Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kindergarten is Like Herding Cats: More on Horne Street Elementary Fieldwork

My current moto for kindergarten is that they are like "herding cats."  They are adorable, playful, want to get into everything and are pretty hard to wrangle.  We teach one kindergarten class a day amongst the other grades.  This week is very special for them: they get to check out their first school library books!  It's a pretty exciting time.  Last week we taught them proper page turning, and I never thought in my life I would say "That's good page turning!" but I did and the smile I received in return was fantastic.  This week we read them a wonderful tale of five little monkeys who mistreated their books and a librarian bear who would gently reminded them what they were supposed to do.  Then we had them say a library pledge to take care of the books, and then let them loose!  I found myself surrounded by kids asking me where to find books about this or that or wanting me to read to them the title of the book they had chosen.  It felt a bit overwhelming but also fun and challenging.  I cannot wait for today's kindergarteners.

The Library Monkeys. By Pat Miller. Illustrated by Virginia Allyn

Mrs. Smart has been doing a wonderful job of sneaking me into lessons, often on the spot which has been fantastic practice for me.  Thus far I have read out loud to several classes two books:  Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell and Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story From Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter, and talked about what the student's hopes and dreams are for the library.  We then make a wordle for their whole class, which Mrs. Smart is going to hand up somewhere in the library once every class has one.  Last week we looked at "hurt books" which are books that have been damaged and talked about proper book handling.  I got to lead a few exercises for the class, showing them the books, letting them handle them and then asking them what they thought happened to the book.

Unfortunately regardless of these lessons accidents happen and three books have been returned to us in poor shape by very sorry looking children.  One had wine spilt all over it from someone's dad, and another was torn when someone's friend ripped it out of his hands.  I don't know what happened to the third but Mrs. Smart is a little upset by this.  Still, the kids who returned them understand what they did and are admitting to it responsibly.  I believe this is progress.

I need to work on my classroom control.  It is something I am by far not used to and here they use something called "responsive classroom" which is a manner of discipline that I have yet to get used to.  In a little bit Mrs. Smart is going to allow me to take over a whole class while she stays nearby.  I'm more worried about keeping their attention and silence when I am reading.  I'm a good reader, but when kids want to move and ask questions I find it hard to get them to settle down again.  But this class is apparently a regularly easy class to deal with so my hopes are high.

I shall post again by the end of the week to wrap up my fieldwork experience.  It's been only two weeks but I have learned a lot, and I feel I have had a good taste for how the elementary school atmosphere is meant to be.


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