Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Own Personal Teacher Quirks

More self-reflection and "A-ha" moments for me:

~ I'm not a teacher who can hang out in the teachers' lounge. Visit on occasion, yes. Donate goodies and nummies on payday Fridays, certainly. Eat lunch every Working with kindergarten students means I'm talking with them, listening to them, taking in their verbal and non-verbal communication constantly. Lunch time is my break. I like to listen to a bit of music, or even just have some quiet time. Teachers' lounges are rarely soothing, calm places. Being social 24/7 is not in my nature. I could roam antique malls for hours, silently, all by myself, or with a friend. Shh. No wonder I almost became a librarian.

~ I don't hang out with parents while I'm their child's teacher. Invite them to volunteer in my classroom, yes, oh yes. Attend their Longaberger or Pampered Chef parties? Nope, though I certainly welcome a catalog or two into my classroom and gladly order goodies that will help out the hostess! Once I'm done being the teacher and school is out at the end of the year? Lunch at Panera, Ladies, lunch at Panera!

~ I have to do all the motions to "The Wheels on the Bus," "Five Green and Speckled Frogs," and "Little Bunny Foo-foo" with my students. HAVE TO. Thankfully, I also have a toddler, so I can usually get away with doing the motions on the weekend, out in public with my family. I suspect that my husband and daughter are looking forward to the day they have to pull me aside and whisper "uh, Honey/Mom, could you *not* do that anymore?"

~ I like putting up bulletin board displays and vignettes. Yep, I'm a sicko.

~ This year, I'm not a fan of "professional development" for "new teachers to the district." Probably because this is the THIRD ROUND of "new teacher PD" I've had to go through in the last four years. Show me the computer program, tell me the quirks, give me the inside scoop on the ins and outs of drills and the school calendar, and then let me teach, please. A person who will be teaching for the first time *ever* needs all the support and help colleagues can muster to give them. They need to be taught that they have resources, they often need to be taught HOW to use those resources and build collegial relationships~ I remember, I've been there. Meanwhile, a person who has taught for twelve years previously needs to know what abbreviations his or her new school uses as labels for the same services s/he was required to provide at the previous district and his or her district password to get into school programs, records, e-mail. Is it called the intervention team, the S.I.T. Team or the S.W.A.T. team? They're the same thing (though their format and operations change a bit, especially now with "response to intervention," R.T.I.) and every school has to have one. My most helpful "training?" Being taught how NOT to set off the alarm at school when I'm there after hours. Alarms are new to me. Otherwise I know how to get information and who to ask. When I don't know who to ask, I ask colleagues anyway, and get steered in the right direction. I know how to read teachers' manuals, know how to set up my curriculum map for the year, and know how to assess my students. I operate PC's and Mac's quite well, and know how to communicate with parents. I know how to teach.

Yet another reason to hope Uncle Sam doesn't move us again any time soon: I don't want to be the new teacher anymore. I just want to teach.

~ Many teachers have day runners, Blackberries, or desk top calendars. I have my binder, divided by sections: Class lists and info; Curriculum map and year long calendar; lesson plans; Kansas State Standards for kindergarten; screening sheets. Want to get on my not-so-nice side? Move the binder.

~ Though the thought never appealed to me before, I would consider being a "mentor teacher" if I could follow the example of my own, Laura. She welcomed me to the district and Kansas before school started, has had lots of info to share with me, has made it clear that she both IS a resource and HAS resources for me should I need or want them, and folks, she has a garden! My family and I are enjoying cucumbers and tomatoes thanks to her green thumb- I'm thinking BLT's for breakfast tomorrow...seriously!

~ My students accommodate me as much as I accommodate them since I hear things a bit differently than most people. I hear everything (except for whispers), and I mean, everything, at the same volume. I hear the student talking with me, the lights buzzing in my classroom overhead, the water dripping from the water fountain, colleagues talking across the hallway, students debating on whether to build a tower or a snake out of blocks, and parents chatting outside of my classroom windows if they're occurring at the same time, AT the same time. Students have to get used to raising hands, and taking turns when I'm listening to someone else, because it takes a lot of focus and attention for me to give a person my almost-undivided-attention. Just another reason I could handle working in a library!

~ I can't wait to make more banners for my classroom decor- I'm enjoying the shift away from pre-printed, pre-packaged classroom displays that can be found at teacher supply stores to more homemade and kindergarten friendly elements that I can create over the weekend. The fact that I have to drive half an hour to forty-five minutes one way to GET to a decent teacher supply store might have something to do with that too! I found some inspiration on Flickr...

1. Back to School Banners, 2. fall round tag banner, 3. Fall Tag Banner, 4. Sparkling Fall Banner, 5. trick or treat swap banner for jess and sarah closeup, 6. Spooky Halloween Banner


How "quirky" are you?


  1. I have a "few " quirks lately.

    In Arkansas we are really striving to promote quality via the ECCRS guidelines. I truly believe high quality places have a much better outcome. It bugs me when I hear someone say " well, the day they ( inspectors) are there , I do it this way.." That doesnt promote a great outcome for children and only the teacher if you are REALLY lucky.

    Parents that come in and say - what did you do today, there is nothing in your cubby? Sometimes I want to say, absolutely NOTHING, We sat around all day and looked at each other. That would TOTALLY work with a group of 16 four year olds. And YES, we do LEARN through play.

    Those are only a couple but real zingers for me!

  2. Great post. I am with you on the first two in particular; I don't hang out in the teacher's lounge because I want to be in my room, with the lights low, some music that I like playing on the computer (I hope Pandora radio survives!), and a nice cup of coffee. I LOVE being alone.

    As for the parents, I have had a few want to be friends, which was quite awkward. But there was one mom I loved, and once both her boys were done in my class, I called her up, and now we do Girls' Nights Out from time to time.

  3. You've inspired me to move to Kansas, start Kindergarten again and request you as my teacher!!! Yah for you!


As always, thank you for your comments, tips, suggestions and questions!