Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2008 has been busy, educational, enlightening, germ-filled, history-making... all around a memorable year. While IM'ing with Alice yesterday afternoon, I shared that while I'm not an advocate for adding more hours to the day, I am feeling a bit frustrated that I'm missing out on doing all of the things I'd like to be enjoying. Prioritize, organize, sort, toss, de-clutter, sacrifice...they all work in emergency situations, and I've found them helpful during times in my life when I've felt overwhelmed, without direction, treading water. Shake it up, clean it out, start fresh- all those things many people resolve to do at least once a year. But spending time with my family, teaching kindergartners, crafting, reading, blogging, exploring, keeping up on letter writing/correspondence and enjoying "down time" are all important to me. While I don't ever put aside family or my job, I absolutely feel loss when I push one or more of the other pleasures to the side for a weekend, a month, or a semester. I'm not falling behind, I'm just not getting to do what I want to do. It's my selfishness coming out- or many things simply do matter to me.
Thoughts floating around in my mind for the next year:
~ Listening to political pundits and spin doctors diagnose, mis-diagnose, blow smoke, and generally keep the American public on some terrifying rollercoaster ride once our new President takes office is not something to which I'm looking forward. As an individual, he didn't get us into this mess folks, he's been hired to help get us out of it. And it won't be easy, and it won't be fun, and it won't be quick, so:
(find other colors of this poster at sfgirlbybay's ETSY shop)
~ NCLB continues to have me worried, especially when state/formal assessments for pre-schoolers and beginning kindergartners are being considered, adopted, and inflicted upon young children. It's not that we as teachers don't assess- we do, constantly. I've shared what I'm noticing and what I check for when I meet my students for the first time, and I assess students daily using academic and social/behavioral rubrics throughout the school year. I assess in order to know what each child's strengths, needs, and prior schema are in order to adjust my teaching style so that I can provide an effective and enjoyable kindergarten experience for each of my Stars. I do NOT rate them on a scale from 1-10, with the goal of having each and every student a perfectly matched 10 by the end of the year. One child's handwriting may still appear wobbly while another's is almost freakishly calligraphic. Several students may be comprehending literacy materials several grades above their level, while many classmates will still be building their sounding out and sight word recognition skills in preparation for their future light bulb moment in the first grade.
NCLB doesn't help the varied needs of our diverse student populations- it looks to punish diversity itself. We are not clones, biologically, emotionally, physically, socio-economically or mentally, yet we are all capable of accomplishing in our lives. Forcing students to learn how to pass a single test (because if they do, then gee, that means we've solved society's ills, made everyone equal, and can finally compete in the world market, right?) robs them of the time they need to learn what may be their most important life skill of all: how to find the information they need. Go ahead and teach the basics. Add a bunch extra too, and encourage students to ask questions and to go out and experience the world. Keep them interested- and teach them how to find the answers to what they want and need to know. Guide them as they continue to think, learn and explore for themselves, no matter how much it frightens marketing gurus, religious zealots, and other predators.*
* (Yes, I group them together. If it bothers you, never fear: I'm just a kindergarten teacher.)
~ Dear Husband is likely to deploy for the second time in three years. We've bought December 2009's Christmas cards, and have already signed them and tucked them away. Pre-deployment preparations start early...really early. We'll begin stockpiling flat rate mailing boxes soon too. Hooah!
~ Is anyone willing to share not-so-obvious yet completely-necessary tips with this beginning gardener? Remember, I'm in Oz, have a yard that enjoys a lot of sun during the summer, and like many families enduring our nation's financial fiasco, want to grow our own veggies to see us through. We also have roaming deer in these parts- my guess is they too, will try to enjoy our (hopeful) bounty. Ideas?
~ The movie wasn't as good as the book, which has me a bit worried that seeing any future film installment made of the Twilight series will also be disappointing (come on make up specialists, the vampires are supposed to look ethereally beautiful, not cakey and plastered), but I read all four this year (Dear Daughter is finishing the third and hopes to finish the fourth before the end of January), and enjoyed them enough to hop on the marketing bandwagon to purchase a Twilight pendant. No, no, no, not from Hot Topic or some other teeny-bopper mall shop... I found mine on eBay, and followed the seller's link over to her ETSY shop: OliviaMoon.
Photography, books, jewelry, exploring, typography, crafting, teaching, ranting, family, friends, blogging, kindergarten fun... so many things to carry over into 2009! Goodbye 2008, hello NEW YEAR!