Thursday, November 17, 2011

AEW

This week is the annual American Education Week in our schools where parents are welcomed into the classrooms to get an idea on what their kids are doing all day.  I love having this opportunity and the kids seem to like it too.  As luck would have it, Wednesday was designated as kindergarten and 2nd grade visit day (although you can come another day if you check with the teacher) so Jason and I took the day off and spent the morning between Caroline and Bryce's classroom.
Getting settled eating her 2nd breakfast

We started the morning in 2nd grade and all I can say is how much I love, love love, Ms. A.  She is an excellent educator and I am so grateful that Caroline has her as her teacher this year (and yes, I made this very clear on my AEW survey that goes to the principal).  While she is friendly and caring, she is also firm and clear.  The children know what is expected of them and she barely has to say anything and the kids do it.  I couldn't believe how quiet they were and how quickly they followed directions.  When a kid or two wasn't completely on task, she'd just have to say their name and give them a little direction and they snapped to it.  Her manner is just so calm and patient.  In addition to that, she really mixed up the lesson so that it wasn't just her talking to the students - they did group work and then individual work too.  I also loved how she would randomly acknowledge a child doing something well when they weren't expecting it.  And while I realize Ms. A knew she was being watched, I also have been so impressed with all my other interactions with her this year that yesterday's visit can't be far from the normal day to day.  She clearly cares so much for her students and works to challenge them and bring out the best in them.  Caroline was on task most of the time and I noticed that the issue she'd had in class in kindergarten and first grade of not being able to keep her butt on the seat all the time has largely resolved.  She wiggles a lot but her butt stays planted.   Jason and I got a kick out of seeing her facial expressions in reaction to things they were discussing in class.  Yesterday's lesson was about schemas and how your background influences how you feel about a story.  I really enjoyed the things the kids had to say about the story they were reading about a wedding.

Then around 10am, we headed down to kindergarten to see what Bryce was up to.  Bryce's class was coming back from the bathroom and Ms. R had them all sit down on the carpet for a phonics lesson.  In true kindergarten fashion, they were wiggly and boisterous, but still fairly good.  Bryce sits right in front of Ms. R on the carpet and did a really good job of sitting still and raising his hand.  Ms. R has 23 kids in her class and almost no help!  I really feel for her - but I'm glad she's so patient and relaxed because I would certainly overload as a result.   (The helper she has is only in there part of the time.)

The gem of the morning though was yet to come! They were working on the letter "S" and when they had gone through writing it and the sound it makes, Ms. R gets out the giant Alphabet Book that has a poem in it about every single letter.  She puts it up on the ledge and asks the class, "How do I know where to find the poem for the letter "S?"

Bryce raised his hand and Ms. R called on him.

"Page 40."

"Well, Bryce, that's a page in the book, but how would I find where it was?"

"The table of contents."

"That's right!"  And she opened the book to the table of contents.  To all of our surprise, damned if that letter S poem wasn't on page 40!!!!!!!!  Ms. R laughed and paused and looked at Bryce and said, "Now wait, Bryce, I've got to hear this, how did you know that the S poem was on page 40 without the book being open?"

(At this point I am in tears I am laughing so hard.)

"Well, actually, I just remembered that yesterday the R poem was on 38 so I knew that the S poem would be on 40."

Ms. R just had the most surprised look on her face and could not get over that he knew the page number without looking.  Jason and I were trying hard to keep from laughing.  Ms. R looked back at us and was trying hard herself to not make a big deal out of it - none of the kids seemed too interested in what just happened.

Then she dismissed the kids to go back to their tables to work on the letter S and I got to sit down with Bryce and ask him about it.  He seemed totally unfazed by it because it just made sense to him.  All I could do was kiss him and tell him he was something else!  Ms. R came over to me while the kids were working and laughed again about his calculation.  She said that when she mistakenly will call a child by the wrong name, Bryce always keeps her in check.  She said she doesn't need a helper, she has Bryce!  Jason and I headed out when it was time for the kids to go to music class and then we headed home.

Later in the evening, there was a Math/Reading night at school where we got to visit the teachers and they gave us ideas of how to do fun activities with our kids to help them in their studies at school.  The 2nd grade teachers had some fun activities and then we went to the kindergarten teachers.  Bryce wasn't with us because he and Jason had gone to his end of soccer season party.  Ms. R gave us some activities for him and then told me how much Bryce amazes her and how she would love to just sit and talk to him if she had the time.  She then told me that during lunch earlier in the day, one of the students had signed up to get tuna salad decided while in line that she wanted grilled cheese instead.  Well, she came out of the lunch line and sat down and Bryce immediately called Ms. R over and said, "Ms. R, D. wasn't supposed to get grilled cheese!  She signed up for tuna!"  Ms. R assured him it was fine but she could not believe he had memorized who had signed up for which lunch.  I got a good laugh out of that one too although it didn't surprise me as much because Bryce regularly comes home and reports on everyone's behavior color that day. (We tell him EVERY time that we only care about him and and he needs to only worry about himself.)  It's no wonder that Bryce gives us such a hard time about things we forget - the kid was blessed with a pretty incredible memory.

So all in all, it was a great day!  As we were leaving school later last night, Caroline out of the blue exclaimed how much she loves her school.  It was really nice hearing that because while I have my doubts about the school sometimes (the area we live in and the general population that feeds into the school), I really like the teachers and am glad that Caroline feels so good about going there - that's what matters after all.

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