Send me your ideas!

Apparently there are millions of people on the edge of their seats, just waiting for a new posting from me.  Here it is…

My coworker Missy had her last day today.  She is pregnant, and the doctor put her on bed rest, which means she can’t finish the year.  So we threw her an impromptu baby shower this afternoon after work.  She made some really touching comments about how much she enjoyed working with us, and how our staff is like a family.  My first thought was…You’re nuts!  Certain people don’t like the way certain other people do things, or somebody gets mad because somebody didn’t invite them somewhere…  But after some further thought, I realized, it’s that kind of stuff that makes us more like a family.  (Or at least, like my family.)  People get worked up over stuff, but it’s not that big of a deal.

There seems to be two general concensuses about how we should teach preschool and kindergarten.  One side says, they’re not ready for hard stuff.  You’ll ruin their education if you push them too fast.  You should NOT do guided reading until the last few months of kindergarten!!!  The other side says, they need to be challenged.  They need to be ready for the harder guided reading stuff that comes in first and second grade.  You’ll ruin their education if you hold them back.  They NEED to be doing guided reading by the second or third month of kindergarten!  I’ve recognized this division since before the end of last school year, and I’ve sort of sat back and listened to each side, not committing to an opinion.  I just wanted to learn more about what my job was before deciding how best to do my job.  In the back of my mind, I thought I would just make my own decisions and not take a side.

Well, it turns out I’ve made my own decisions, but I’ve taken a side without meaning to!  I’m in the second camp…why hold them back???  Wouldn’t it be so much easier for first grade teachers if the students came in with basic knowledge about print concepts, phonics, a good base of sight words…  We are fighting what seems to be an uphill battle at our school, as far as test scores and reading skills.  Why would we start the battle lower on the hill than we have to?  I actually feel very empowered now that I’ve accepted the fact that I do have an opinion about it all.  It was “easy” to sit back and pretend I didn’t have an opinion.  But now I have an objective for my work, which is even better. 

So I’ve started doing guided-reading-ish things with my older students, the ones who will be going to kindergarten next year.  And I don’t care who finds out.  It’s going so well.  In fact, if somebody wanted to use my classroom as a demonstration for the good that can come out of early exposure to reading instruction, bring it on.  Now that I have an opinion, I feel confident that I could hold my own if I had to defend what I do.  THIS feeling is what I’ve been looking for all year!  Of course each teacher is going to do things differently, the point is, can you DEFEND the value of your methods???  I finally feel competent in my skills as a professional.  Not great, not experienced, but competent.  Ready for the next challenge.

If there are any random teachers who read this blog, I’m sure I’ll get some interesting comments from this one! 

You people who actually do know me, I need some ideas.  Bristol is taking his comps in the first week of April.  (Comps are a big deal in grad school.  Even Bristol is studying for them!  )  If I were doing some such thing, I can imagine Bristol would send me flowers to wish me good luck.  And that would be perfect, I would love it!  But Bristol would not appreciate flowers so much, of course.  So what can I do for him?  Keep in mind that I live far away, so it’s not like I can drop something off at his house on the morning of the test.  But I could work in cooperation with his roommate to deliver him something, maybe.  I don’t think Bristol reads my blog, so this will probably be a complete surprise for him.  But just in case, please email me your ideas, rather than posting a comment.  (If you are reading this, the surprise will just have to be WHAT you get.  )

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