December 17, 2013

Who's Afraid of Kindergarten?

I was subbing in an elementary media center one day when a teacher came in looking a bit frantic.  She asked if I would be able to sub for her a week from Friday.  After mentally going over my calendar and realizing that I was not already working that day, I told her yes - I could sub for her.

"Really? Are you sure? Next Friday, can you really?"  she responded.  I was surprised wondering what I was getting myself in to.  I assured her that I could sub for her and then I asked her what grade she taught.  The answer --- kindergarten.   Oh my.

I was a little afraid of kindergarten.  My experience has always been with older children and I don't know if I have the patience or the flexibility to be with  5 and 6 year-olds all day long.  They have short attention spans, snotty noses, tummy aches, untied shoes, and small bladders.  Don't misunderstand me.   I love little children.  I have a grandchild who will be in kindergarten next year.   But the day was set and I would be spending a full day with a room full of kindergarten students.

I went in that morning a bit anxious and apprehensive, but I left feeling pretty cool and confident.  I survived and I had fun!  The kids listened for the most part and they were good little learners.  Some were more mature than others just like any classroom.

At the end of the day there were:

  • 3 tummy aches ( no one sent to the nurse ) 
  • 25 or more bathroom trips throughout the day ( thank goodness for a bathroom in the room) 
  • 1 crying episode
  •  3 pairs of shoes tied 
  • 2 jackets zipped up 
  • 1 pants buttoned 
  • 1 ponytail redone  
  • glue, scissors, color crayons 
  • good books to read 
  •  stories ( kindergartners have lots of stories to tell) 
  • laughs

 It was a good day.  I am not afraid of kindergarten anymore.

December 16, 2013

Subbing: A New Adventure

I stepped out of the classroom awhile back for various reasons and now I have decided to step back into the education playing field--jumping in with substitute teaching.  To make the decision I considered the pros & cons:


  • Get to know many age levels, many buildings, many colleagues 
  • hours are basically school hours - no planning or grading outside of school 
  • Schedule is more your own - you can take a day if you'd like it off

  • Most days you don't know where or if you are working until that day or night before 
  • pay is mediocre and no benefits 
  • some children consider sub days a license to misbehave; they do not respect the authority of a sub
  • every building has a different climate and silent culture that must be learned 

The bottom line is teaching, education, school, is what I know and what I do.  Being out of the classroom made it all too clear that it is my calling and I miss it.   So, the adventure begins. 

July 6, 2013

A Review of The Book Whisperer

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child  is written by Donalyn Miller, a 6th grade language arts and social studies teacher from Texas. 

In this book, Miller explains her theory for teaching children to be life-long readers.  To read and to like reading, one must spend time reading and reading many kinds of books.  The book outlines how she begins her year motivating students to read and gives her expectations in the classroom.  It includes some student opinions and student samples of surveys.

Miller gives us a theoretical background of the reading philosophy and her rationale.  She explains how her classroom library is set up and how it is managed.  Students have a reading notebook and it is explained within the pages of this book.  Even Miller keeps a reading notebook during the year which she tells us about.  In the back of the book are appendices with some surveys and book lists.
For accountability and grading purposes, Miller shares some traditional practices found in reading classrooms ( such as book reports, reading logs, comprehension texts) and offers some alternatives. 

The Book Whisperer will ignite your reading teacher passion! After reading this book, you will be able to start teaching reading Miller's way of reading right away.  However, there will be some administrators that will not like seeing this type of teaching.  They are happier with tangible products of reading.  They want students reading the same books and doing a certain worksheet or project to prove they have read the book or that they understand the book. Additionally, many teachers are required to teach a certain program or with specific materials.  You can still incorporate Miller's ideas - it just may take a little creativity.

Needed if you are to teach like the Book Whisperer:
1. Access to many books --many genres of various reading levels. It is best if they are books that are either yours or can be kept in your room.

2. You need to be a reader yourself - read so you can authentically converse about books and so you can recommend books

3. Time to read - class time , stolen moments, at home

4. A belief that all are readers- be positive and dont put labels on children ( struggling reader, reluctant reader) Find the books that will hook the child in and help them become stronger readers.

If you are a language arts teacher or even if you are not: I recommend this book should be in your stack of professional resource books to read.    Add it to your stack!

The Book Whisperer: Awakeneing the Inner Reader in Every Child.  
             ~ by Donalyn Miller   

Have you read this book?  What other books are in your stack? 


June 27, 2013