Tag Archives: kids

Paging Mrs. Broccoli!

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I have a new name this year.  A new name…at least with some of my kindergartners. After almost twenty-seven years as Mrs. Rackley, I am now Mrs. Broccoli.

No kidding…

Over the years, I’ve had trouble with students pronouncing my name. We work on it a time or two and that usually does the trick. Not this year and especially not with this one little boy. We’ve practiced. We’ve broken down the word into syllables…RACK-LEE. Still, he can’t get it. He finally told me that he just couldn’t say it and that I was Mrs. Broccoli.

The thing is, he’s heard my name other places so in his little six-year-old brain, Mrs. Broccoli and Mrs. Rackley have become two different people. I’ve tried to explain, to help him, but still no luck.

We’re on the final swoop of the year, working on the last nine weeks, and trying to finish with as much growth and positive energy as we can. Honestly, it’s hard. In some ways, the end of the school year is just as hard as the beginning. It’s just a different kind of hard. People are tired…kids and teachers alike. All of us are struggling from time to time with energy lags, sometimes frustration, but then at other times, amazement at how far the students have come. If your babies at home are seeming a little more tired or maybe a touch grumpy, don’t be alarmed. It’s a real condition from now until the end of May.

Funny’s of the week:

Bright eyed girl, age 5 – “You’re pretty,” she says to me as she looks me up and down. “I look just like you.”

Cool boy, age 8 describing new guitar lessons – “The first day of lessons was the worst day of my whole entire life.”

Bubbly kid, age 6 – “If you’re not Mrs. Broccoli, then who are you? I know you’re her!”

 

Can’t Never Could

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Where has the time gone??  Six weeks since I last posted. Of course I know where really…it happened when the big change occurred in my life.  When I last posted, I had just gotten a new position at work, and since then, that change has consumed my life (but in a joyful way).

This past week, I finally began to interact with my new students. Being an interventionist, I serve small groups of students at a time, helping with certain skills. So far I love it. I love the one-on-one time…I actually have time to talk to them about the process of learning. Early in the week, I did a welcome-back-to-school activity while we were testing. It was very simple…they had to write the word can and decorate it. The word correlates to the “I can do it” poem I say with students who come my way.

Most of the kids smiled and quickly completed the task but one little boy balked. I told them that in my room we don’t say can’t, only can. He frowned at me, a very confused scowl on his face, and said, “But…but some days you have to say can’t.  Some days you just have to.”

I said, “We’re going to work really hard in here and try not to say can’t.”

“But…,” he shook his head, “No…no.”

This is the same child who within five minutes of meeting him, told me that his mom and dad don’t live together, his brother is being bullied every night, and his sisters are in heaven.

No wonder he knows the word can’t.

Can’t never could…maybe it’s hard to believe that when your home life is in shambles. Maybe it’s hard to believe that you can succeed when everything around you is crumbling. And believe me, he’s not the only child in our building whose home life is far from ideal.

I definitely look at him in a different light now.  Even though I may be expected to treat all students the same, how can you when you catch glimpses of their souls? Each one of them needs something different, something unique. Our job as educators is to figure out what that one thing is.

Can’t never could…I’ll be repeating that statement to myself often next week. I begin working with Kindergarten students…something I haven’t done since my first two years out of college. A part of me is excited, the other is terrified. They’re young, needy, sometimes very emotional, but so stinking cute. Should be interesting!

Love my new space…


 

 

Crayons and Tears

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Miss Sarah, my most excellent student teacher, left us today, ready for her next adventure. There were a few tears…and sobs from one little fellow. I’m taking Dr. Seuss to heart tonight:  I will not cry because it’s over – I will smile because it happened.  I’ve made a new, wonderful friend, and there’s nothing sad about that.

Here are a few goodbye letters from the children.  Nothing like first grade authors!

“You just might graduate!”

 

Last week, Miss Sarah read a great book to the students.

Afterwards, they wrote letters to the main character in the story and then gathered old crayons for her to melt. This is what she gave them today using those crayons. Our Miss Sarah will be missed!

Hello Christmas Break!

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It should be mandatory for every adult in the world to spend the week before Christmas break in schools.  Not only to experience the chaos…the squealing, running, chatty, messy chaos (and that’s just the teachers), but to feel, to remember what it’s like to be a child.  The children go to another place, a world adults forget about when they grow up. Children live in a perpetual realm of giddiness this time of year.  It’s exhausting but it’s also infectious. Every adult should get to experience that kind of giddiness at least once more in their lifetime.

In the midst of utter pandemonium, here are some of the things I heard over the week:

Little boy, age 6 – “I have ballet stuck in my head!  When I get home, my daddy’s going to ground me.”

Funny girl, age 6 – “When did people get in color?  Like not gray anymore?  I saw an old picture and people used to be gray.”

Too smart for me boy, age 6 – “Who first started using money…not just trading stuff?”

Precious girl, age 6 – “That sounded like two snowflakes singing together.”

Inquisitive girl, age 6 – “Who made the Earth? I know God, but like who did the landscaping?”

 And last but not least, after receiving a precious homemade card from a little girl…a handwritten card with a beautiful Christmas tree and lights and a star in the sky, I find another note folded up inside. She pointed to it and said, “It’s a zombie map, so if you need to get away from zombies.”

A journal entry from the week. I asked who the man was at the bottom and she said God. Sigh...sweet baby girl.

A journal entry from the week. I asked who the man was at the bottom and she said God. Sigh…sweet baby girl.

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with love and laughter.

Brown Eyes 

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I know you must get tired of my teacher stories, and after this one, I promise to find other topics to write about.

There’s this tiny fellow in my room…brilliant, asthmatic, mannerly, kind.  He’s so smart he can barely contain the thoughts bouncing through his head.  We’ll call him Brown Eyes.  Well, today he came in from the playground with a massive pout on his face.  I mean this kid was down.  I called him over to my desk and asked what was going on.  It took all of three seconds for him to burst into sobs – the kind of sobs you can barely speak around.  He proceeded to tell me that nobody would play with him, that he’d even asked a few people and they said yes but they all ended up running in different directions.

By this time, he was nestled in for a big hug, his head on my shoulder.  The other kids were watching.  One little boy slipped up behind him and began to pat his back (this fellow is Blue Eyes).  I took the moment to remind the class that we take care of our own, we’re family and nobody gets left out.  About this time, Blue Eyes said, “It’s alright, man.  Don’t be sad.”  

That was all it took…Brown Eyes turned around and threw his arms around Blue Eye’s neck and held on for dear life.  Blue Eyes looked at me, startled at first, but then just hugged him back.  See….here’s the thing:  Blue Eyes is a whole year older than Brown Eyes.  He’s seen more, lived longer, and in little boy years, has outgrown innocent shows of affection.  Brown Eyes is young, he’s still very innocent.  To him, hugging another boy is no big deal.   Blue Eyes…he’s already been taught or simply learned through osmosis that guys don’t do that.  But here’s what’s awesome – he let Brown Eyes hug him anyway.

Not to be outdone, here come several girls, ready to mother at a moments notice.  A few more boys hustled to us.  Suddenly, at my desk…at 11:03 on a warm day in September, there was a group of seven or eight kids, arms thrown around each other in the sweetest group hug I’ve ever seen in my life.  

Brown Eyes smiled after that.

I shared this story because it was my life-line this week.  I’ve been weepy, sad in a way I have a hard time expressing.  My heart is achy because I believe my heart may be realizing that the teaching I fell in love with so many years ago doesn’t exist in that form anymore.  I ache for what I fear is gone.  The teaching I once knew has been replaced by numbers and mandates.  What may be the hardest is knowing I’m not a numbers or mandate kind of person…never will be.  So when I was at my lowest, that little boy and my huddle of kids…well, they gave me a reason to keep going.  Those babies reminded me what I love about teaching…them.

Highlights of a Hairy Week

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Here are some highlights from a very crazy, busy week:

Mrs. Rackley…can I ask you a question about babies? 

Be.  Still.  My.  Heart.  This came from the mouth of a precocious, mannerly little fellow.  As smart as he is, I’ve got to be honest, I sputtered some.  My eyes, I’m sure, got big.  Finally I said, “Sure.”

Why do babies walk on their tippy-toes all the time?

After I could breathe again, I tried to answer him.  I might have said something like, “Oh you know, their muscles are not strong yet…blah, blah, blah.”  I was so happy it hadn’t been anything worse, I could barely focus.

**

I got this love letter on my birthday.  It was written by the sister of one of my students.  And let me assure you, sweet girl, you ARE beautiful…and smart and creative and kind and thoughtful.

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At another point, we were brainstorming (-ed) family words.  I got bed, red, fed.  One yells out ted.  I told them yes but as a name with a capital letter.  A few little brains churned until I hear, “Like the movie ‘Ted’?”

“Yes,” I say, while I’m thinking ‘you better not have watched that movie’.

Someone else yells out, “What about Teddy…like my teddy bear?”

Then boom, another says, “Teddy Roosevelt!”

Only the little fellow and I knew who he was, but still, it was another one of those moments where I know my face looked stunned.  (I have a hard time hiding emotion on my face, like really hard.  It’s a curse.)  I’ll tell you, I’m surrounded by some very intelligent, inquisitive children this year.  Hope I can keep up!

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So, I had a birthday this week.  The students asked how old I am, and I told them….then it was their turn to look stunned.  Their minds cannot process 46.  It’s too much – especially when I’m older than most of their parents…which they made sure I knew!  I’ve got to be honest…birthdays have become a weird, almost depressing event over the years.  What happened to the celebrations?  Now it’s just, “Oh crap…in four years I’ll be fifty.”  But fear not, the hubby made the one thing I wanted for my birthday.  I had chocolate cake so all is right with the world.

This is the masterpiece Bill made.  Half chocolate icing, half cream cheese.  Yum!

This is the masterpiece Bill made.  Half chocolate icing, half cream cheese. Yum!

Riddle Time

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It started out innocently enough.  Riddles in our reading series…working with a partner to figure out the answer.  My class loves them and it has turned into riddles and jokes all the time.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.  You just have to go with it and let the silliness take over.

Blondie, age 6 – “What do you call a test you can eat?”  (I shrug because I have no clue.)  “A piece of cake!”

Little fellow who barely spoke the first semester but has now ‘blossomed’, age 6 – “You wanna hear a ‘your momma’ joke?”  I naively said yes because like I said, he didn’t talk for months.  “Your mother is so stupid (he whispered this word), she tried to climb Mountain Dew!”

The same boy asked me a different day, “Wanna hear another one?”  “Sure,” I said.  “Your momma is so….” (I have to stop right here because this joke was a little bit dirty and definitely not appropriate for first grade!  I blushed!  His jokes now scare me.)

Hubby got in on the riddles yesterday.  “What is the first thing you know?”  This one stumped me all day long and he refused to tell me the answer until he got home.  You ready for this??  “The first thing you know ole Jed’s a millionaire!”

Just go with it people!

I took this joke to school and of course none of the kids knew Jed. I got very blank stares so I explained that it was an old show.  Sweetie pipes in, “I don’t watch those shows.  The only adult shows I watch are Dancing With the Stars, America’s Funniest Home Videos, and The Golden Girls.  That show’s a hoot!”

And so are these kids of mine.

Rocking On

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“Mrs. Rackley, why do you have that T around your neck?” asks an inquisitive, sparkling child.

“It’s a cross,” I answer as my ‘whoa, be careful, not supposed to talk about religion in school’ meter goes off.

“What for?  Did somebody die?”

“No…it’s just my cross.  My son gave it to me,” I have to say and then no more.

These conversations pop up out of the blue and always stop me in my tracks. We’re going, going, going, filling every minute of the day with stations and RTI and reading, and then boom, a little child pulls me back into the real world. I’m usually in deep teacher mode when these moments happen, and it’s almost like a little smack when they ask me real-life questions. Makes me wonder what would happen if I had more time to listen to their thoughts and stories and musings.

The playground is usually a good place to hear the unusual, the off-topic and sometimes, trivial.  I actually enjoy going out for recess, unless we’re having a rash of tattling that day.  Only outside can you hear the following (which are actual quotes I put into my phone as soon as I heard them):

“I ain’t scared of a ladybug.  They’re nice.  They might poop on your finger but they’re nice.”

“This rain’s got good flavor!”

ladybug

So school is rocking on.  We’re 18 days into the year, and in the last few days I’ve felt us slowly round the curve.  The children are learning routines, finding their way into first grade slowly and steadily (well, I may have pushed them a bit…).  We’re trying to find our footing, and I do believe we will.  I got my first two ‘I love you’s’ this week…a few kisses on the arm from one loving fellow…and hugs from a few girls I worried might not open up to me at all.  All these things are glimpses of bonding…me bonding with them, the children bonding with me.  But bonding is more than skills and numbers on a page…these children remind me of that often.  I have to listen to their inquiries and tales, and I have to let them hug and love.  That’s how they become mine and I try to become theirs.