Change

In the same way I wake up on Tuesdays, excited it is yoga day I am beginning to look forward to Saturdays when the new #kinderblog challenge word is posted. This week the word is “Change.” Hmmmmm….. Let’s think about that one all week. Originally, I wanted to write about how our Kindergarten team time has changed due to a district-wide journey to become a professional learning community. Creating team NORMS (a written commitment we made to each other to assure our collective success) and using a written agenda to keep the focus on students and learning have changed the way we work together. This change in the way we behave when we are together has helped us to stay on task and get more accomplished. As we all know, there is never enough time to do everything, but an agenda helps us prioritize and constantly move forward with decisions that are best for students and learning. Facilitating this change has provided me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills within my team and building.

But….the change I’d really like to reflect on in this post is the perception that children have changed so drastically in the past 27 years of teaching. How often do you hear from colleagues that kids have changed? Schools have changed. Teaching is different than it use to be. Well, yes to all the above! Our whole world has changed! I’ve had to learn right along with my students how to use a computer and the internet, an Iphone, a copy machine (Remember the old hand crank blue line masters?), Twitter, and now add blogging to the list. There is one thing however, that has not changed a bit and that is a five-year old. Kindergarten still is and always will be…

Working and playing together.
Respecting the rights of others.
Being a good listener.
Expressing one’s self.
Following directions.
Developing good work habits.
Completing assigned tasks.
Keeping work area clean.
Working as part of a group.
Using a variety of materials.
Sharing.
Developing an interest in books.
Improving fine and gross motor skills.
Increasing attention span
Using new vocabulary words.
Using math in everyday situations.
Making school an enjoyable experience.

With the lazy summer days creeping toward August and thoughts of starting another school year, I couldn’t be happier that SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE.

BRAG!

The #kinderchat13 challenge this week was just that!  A challenge!  After thinking it over all week and realizing that tomorrow a new challenge word will be tweeted, I decided to just go for it and brag a bit about my two families: my kindergarten family and my family-family.

Yesterday, my kindergarten team (There are six of us.) and their kids (Add on eight more.) came over to enjoy some sunshine and pool time. We are a unique bunch of colleagues who enjoy spending time together outside of school. Yes! We are more than colleagues. We are all good friends. My friend Becky was at a PLC conference and texting me one evening. Her roommate, who happened is a teacher in the same district commented, “Wow! You text your team? My team would never do that!” That’s just the way we roll in kindergarten. We learn from each other, support one another, and bring out the best in each other. I believe we display these qualities daily with our students and it creates an amazing atmosphere for learning.

On August 5th I will be celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary and I’d like to brag about that. My husband Jeff and I were high school sweethearts, so it actually is more like our 34th anniversary! We’ve been best friends forever and are just like my school family. We learn from each other, support one another, and bring out the best in each other. I believe we display these qualities for our two children, creating a happy, healthy environment for them to reach their fullest potential.

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Well, there!  I did it!  I can brag all day long about my students and my kids, but seldom take time to brag about the adults in my life.  Thank you Jeff, Becky, Trina, Beth, Alyssa, and Kelli for giving me lots to brag about.

Confessions

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I confess that I am learning things totally unrelated to teaching this summer. And I’m okay with that! I’m having the time of my life! I am working part-time at a local farm stand learning all about the food grown locally at Oakridge Farms, a small family farm that provides amazing food to our community. I am thoroughly enjoying meeting the people in my community that appreciate REAL food grown locally.

Working during Pick-Your-Own strawberries was a blast! I totally underestimated how happy strawberries make people feel! The little ones love the tractor ride out into the fields and the grown-ups appreciate the fresh fruit. Confession…I had no idea there were different varieties of strawberries just like there are different varieties of apples. My favorites…Jewel and Honey-Eye. Another confession…I went picking FOUR times for a total of 30 pounds. To my surprise I discovered my husband had never been strawberry picking before. WHAT?!?!?!?! He entered the field under duress and exited saying, “I think we might need to come again.” My freezer is full! Bring on the raspberries and blueberries!

In addition to working at the farm stand, I joined the CSA (Community Supported Agricuture) program through Oakridge Farms. Every other Tuesday, I pick up a box of fresh produce and it feels like Christmas when I open my box. I am forced to research (Does Pinterest count as research?) vegetables I’ve never tried and learn how to prepare them in a variety of ways.

I tried a radish sandwich after hearing two elderly ladies at the stand rant and rave about them. I even went a step further and made Radish Butter! The old folks that come and buy vegetables are a wonderful resource for asking, “How do you like to prepare that?” Last night I prepared rainbow Swiss Chard. I really wanted to put it in a vase because it was so beautiful. I am a honey convert and am in desperate need of another jar already. Homemade Pesto and Hummus full of garlic scapes are nestled in the fridge as I write this post. Kale chips? Really?! Yep! We tried them, but Kale in our morning smoothies is our preference. I have never tasted, bought, or prepared a beet in my life for myself or my family til last week. Grilled beets were a hit and I’m definitely buying them again.

Last confession…I could never really turn off my “teacher” brain for the summer. I’m blogging and developing a PLN through Twitter, both things I would’ve never had the time to explore and commit to during the school year. I’m ready to tackle the #kinderchat13 challenge for the next 6 weeks!