Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday SOL Stories mean relationship

It is Tuesday and this is a "Slice of Life" for Two Writing Teachers.  Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.

The first weeks of preschool have been
a seemingly endless series of
immediate must-do's and small crises,
such as -

helping children out of soiled clothes,
wiping up spilled milk,
interpreting loud voices and screeches,
changing wet clothes and bed linens,
preventing bodily harm,
rushing dancing children to the bathroom,
"herding cats," as we prepare for walks,
helping children find their words,
negotiating sharing and other disputes,
checking for hives and allergic responses,
comforting children in tears.

Each of these is momentary,
a mere flash in the day,
inconsequential when only once,
but remarkably stressful when they occur over and over,
as they have,
these first few weeks.

Each of these moments springs up as quickly as a mother bird from a nest when someone comes near... unexpectedly, surprisingly,
from 'out of nowhere.'

Is this year of teaching more difficult than others?
Or is this what every new year feels like for awhile?

What is different?

Perhaps it is because my youngest has gone to college, my own nest is empty?

I don't know.

Some ten of my preschoolers are newly three - meaning, there are many, many potty accidents. We haven't had a day without them.  Adding considerably to the work, a couple preschoolers are still learning to have bowel movements in the toilet - these accidents are developmentally normal, but much tougher in an elementary school environment, where bathrooms are down the hall and we do not have changing facilities.

There have been a lot of tears at drop off, these very young preschoolers feel anxious about their new days at school.

We have a couple students with acute food allergies, and we must be vigilant during breakfast, lunch, and snacks - all of which are eaten in our room. I have found myself near tears over spilled milk.

It has been essential during these first weeks of school to slow things down,
to emphasize soothing, comfortable, safe, fun, and loving,
in all that I do in the classroom.
How can we settle in together?
How can I help these preschoolers adjust to school?
What helps?

I reflected - What do I love to do? What is essential? What feels right?

"How does your story begin?"

This fabulous curriculum idea from Bev Bos has been particularly delightful in these first few weeks,
as we build community together,
from our many disparate perspectives.

In and about every little mishap that I am dealing with, I can cuddle up to someone and ask, "How does your story begin?" and get the most delightful responses. The children are so happy to share, and particularly delighted that I am careful to record their responses in my computer - only to read these aloud at our daily closing.

How does your story begin?

I find out about their favorite tales....

With Little Red Riding Hood.  Little Red Riding Hood went to her grandma’s house, went to see her grandma at the doctor. Then the big bad wolf came and ate the grandma. Then Little Red Riding Hood was at the doctor now. She went inside and saw her grandma. And she brought some candy for her. And then the big bad wolf said, “I am not your grandma!” [uses growly voice] “I’m not your grandma!!” Then Little Red Riding Hood says, “you don’t look like my grandma!” and then Little Red Riding Hood says, “You’re the big bad wolf!!” Then the wolf spit the grandma out and then grandma came home with Little Red Riding Hood. The End  [Caroline]

The itsy bitsy spider is my favorite story. He went up the water spout, and down came the rain and he went out! Then he got in again. Spiders go on webs. I saw one at the park, the park with the water for babies. Spiders do not like water. There was a bug in my car, in Black Jack. Black Jack is my car. I have this dress with flowers. My Mom let me wore this dress to school! It is all blue and red. The End. [Amelie]

Once upon a time there was an egg named Humpty dumpty. He sat on the wall and he fall off the wall. And then the kids helped Humpty Dumpty’s face. And then he got candy – he got a lollipop. The kids gave it to him. He said “I like that candy. It is so tasty and so yummy.” And he ate the whole thing! The End. [Jasmine]

The big bad wolf and the three little pigs. The big bad wolf blows the three houses over – whooooosh! And he blows the brick house down. These two little pigs run to the brother’s house. The End. [Evan]

How does your story begin?

 I find out about their imaginations...

Once upon a time in the faraway land, a girl named Jenu – Mom and Pop left Jenu at the house. The lady who was cleaning up, but Jenu was screaming, and the lady who was cleaning up called the policia. Then, once upon a time there was three little pigs and they blew and huffed and puffed and the big bad wolf ate the mother. Then the big bad wolf spit out the mother. Then her baby brought Jenu and an alligator and a crocodile and walked all the way in the woods and ate Jenu, Then the alligator and the crocodile put Jenu in a box. The End! [Shaan]

I have a monster in my house and it knocks down the windows and it is really nice. You knock down the ceiling. It falls down to the ground. And you fall on the floor. The great big monster eats the curtain. It has a really big eye. The End. [Charlie]

I’m thinking. It’s fun to think about the other story I did outside our classroom, and what I said. I don’t want my sleeves to get sweaty. And my arms are hot! All the other friends’ stories start with Once upon a time. Shaan’s story starts with Once upon a time. Once upon a time. My real stories at home, which are in a book, all start with once upon a time. So, I wanted mine to start with once upon a time, too. [Hallie]

There was a monster and a kid. The kid was wobbling. And along came a monster and he ate the kid up. And then a big M came and rescued the kid! And then, a father came and then he took the kid home. The kid played. He played and played, until a big, big, big bumblebee came in and snapped him and ate him up. And then the bumblebee ate the father and mother and the little baby. The End. [Micaela]

Once upon a time, little red riding hood went apple picking and one day the big bad wolf came. And the wolf ate her. Then, a monster comes and spits her out! The monster fights with the wolf. The wolf was fighting with the monster. And the monster was fighting with the wolf. [Bernie]

I have a princess story. This is a Cinderella one. I was doing this thing, I was telling my Mommy a secret in her ear at my house. And my door was glass. [Lily]

How does your story begin?

I find out about their daily lives...

My mommy used to read me stories when I was little. She gave me milkie when I was little. I love how the Mommy talks. She gets to wash my hair. And Daddy gives me some water so I will finish my bath. And then my Daddy washes my hair with it. [Ada]

I have a baby. Her name is Kamara Miriam. And my Omi is here. She’s gonna stay at my house and sleep. Mommy, we just name her Kimberley. I used to play with Kamara but she’s not a toy. My Momma said to me, my Momma said to me, my Momma said to me, “she’s not a toy.”  The End [Alysa]

Cole has superstickers, batman stickers. He has a dog. He is my friend. I am going to think of another one. I want to have - ummm, I have a baby brother. His name is Wes. I give him baby stories and baby toys. I was a little baby. My Daddy would leave me in the sink!!I have another story.  I want to tell a story about letters. I was a little baby and I used to have letters in my home. I give my toys to my Mom and Dad. When I was a little baby, I used to have a bottle. [Eloise]

I fell down the stairs and I had blood going down my nose. I had blood on my lip, and this happened to my leg. That’s my story! [Hughie]

I have a Mommy and she used to give me a bath in the sink when I was a tiny baby. I get a bath in the bathtub! Then, teeth brushed. Then stories and bed. [Lavinia]

I went to the beach and I stayed at a hotel and I meet my Grandma and my Daddy and I had my cozy room with the air on. Then I wake up and I went to the beach. And I played in there. My Spiderman surfboard went into the water so that I can surf there. That is the end! [Zuren]

These five simple words

How does your story begin?

are helping to smooth out our days together.

We have just begun our fifth week of school, and
I feel a sense of calm,
of pleasure,
of community.

These five simple words

How does your story begin?

fit conveniently into so many small moments...
whether I am
sitting with children outside the bathroom,
rubbing backs of restless children at nap time,
re-directing 'spirited' children from certain activities,

The children ask me,
frequently and regularly,
'Ms. Ingram, can I tell you a story?'

The children gather quickly for our daily closing, to hear the stories I have collected that day, in and about our doings...

These five simple words

How does your story begin?

are helping me to build sweet new relationships

between me and my students,
between my students and each other,
helping all of us to understand each other a little better.

Here's to our year together!!


  1. I'm glad you have found a way to connect amidst the mayhem with your little ones. This connection, telling their stories, will be the lasting mark you make.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! 3 year olds--what fun! I feel the same way and I teach 3rd grade. Building a new community, learning to be in a space together, all takes time and so much energy. Somehow each year, I forget the attentiveness I need to give to every second of the school day during these first 3-4 weeks!!

  3. Wonderful post. I identified with these lines: "Is this year of teaching more difficult than others? Or is this what every new year feels like for awhile?" September is so hard!

  4. What a wonderfully rich post. I don't have any experience teaching kids this young. Actually not since summer camp counselor, but I do know this language you share. So I am happy to see the roots to the riches

    These five simple words

    How does your story begin?

    are helping to smooth out our days together.

    We have just begun our fifth week of school, and
    I feel a sense of calm,
    of pleasure,
    of community.

  5. WOW you are a wonderful teacher...if I had a child, or grandchild, I would want you to be leading them in their literacy journey. I LOVE THOSE LITTLE WORDS: How does you story begin!!!!!!!1

  6. Maureen, my two granddaughters moved to a new pre-school (4 & 2) & they are learning so many things, come home with new ideas. When I hear them, I think of your wonderful classroom, which again you just shared. Amidst all the seeming chaos, you find a way to calm and celebrate. Wonderful to read!

  7. Maureen, this is lovely. Thank you.

  8. It seems I always always always have to remind myself to teach "September" kids, not "April" kids.