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Welcome to my blog! I use my blog as a way to reflect, share, organize, and re-conceptualize my views as an educator. Enjoy and feel free to comment, post, disagree, and share your opinion. The more perspectives, the better!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A special week

Hey Everyone,

I don't have a lot of time tonight for the post that is really on my mind so instead I though I would share some "Hoppy Happenings" with the First Grade Froggers.

On Monday, the students in our X group got to meet the German Ambassador as he toured our school. The children were very excited about this and it was difficult in our classroom because only some of the children got to meet him. It is hard to talk with some children about the importance of the ambassador and how special it is to meet him (I mean how many of us adults have actually met an ambassador to another country?) without "rubbing it in" for the other children. In our classroom we used it as a mini- social lesson...Sometimes you get to do thing or not get to do things that other people do. It is okay to share these things with them, but it is not okay to make them feel left out or like they are not good enough (one girl in our class told the other children that their group got to meet the ambassador because they were the "smart" group). We explained that ambassadors, like a lot of community helpers are very busy and had a lot of things to see and do on his trip, and that, if he had time, he would have really liked to meet and talk with everyone.

On Wednesday we had another special visitor...Channel 5 news! Channel 5 was doing a segment on our school's ability to achieve an Excellent rating from the state and the parents' camp out to enroll their children. Who did they tape? Our Y group in German class! This was really fun for the children and it helped reinforce the idea that not everyone gets to do special things, but we should be excited for our friends when they get to do something special. Surprisingly, today when we watched the news segment in class not a single child said "Why didn't I get to be on the news?" (though I was not there yesterday so that doesn't mean no one said it...)All of the children were genuinely excited to see themselves or their friends on the news.

For me as a student teacher, this week's special events have helped me realize the quality of a building that I am in. We are not perfect by any means, but we are helping our children learn and grow, which really is the bottom line.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monthly Projects

My mentor teacher assigns the children a monthly project as homework each month. The monthly projects are not designed to take up a lot of time. While we hope thought and effort are put into them, a quality project could be done in1-2 nights.

Our real reason for the projects is for the children to make something at home that they can present to the class. Yes, my first grade students give oral presentations. They talk about their project and then field questions. As teacher we sit back and watch (and give occasional help if needed). The children are in charge. The best thing is that the other children in the class LOVE seeing the projects and listening the presentations. It is not like high school and college in which you are dreading presentation day.

The skill that this project lays the foundation for is invaluable. Public speaking is one of the most common fears among adults. My question is, would these same adults be nearly as terrified if they had been practicing giving speeches in a safe environment since the first grade? My guess is no. As a communication major, public speaking  is talked about, critiqued, and worked on regularly. It amazed me that the skills we are working on with our first graders are the same ones being worked on in early comm classes (Effective Public Speaking and Business Communication are the first two that come to mind). In college we preach eye contact, not relying on a pre-written speech, speaking confidently, clearly, and with animation. Guess what? In first grade we focus on the same things, and even the more advanced skill of answering questions on the spot from an audience.

After a few more monthly projects, I can promise you that my first graders will be better public speakers than many people I have seen in interview and in my classes. They are getting a foundation now, that if reinforced well carry well beyond school and into their careers and daily lives.

I can't wait for the next round of projects!

A Balancing Act

Tomorrow will mark my first week back at classes at UC. It has been difficult only being in the classroom part-time. I feel like half of the time I'm at Fairview now I am playing catch up to find out what has gone on in my absence. I also feel like I have less of a focus while I am at school and with my students.

Prior to UC starting the majority of my time was focused on being a student- teacher...it carried over to all aspects of my life. My sleep, eating, social, and even workout habits revolved around my school schedule. It is difficult to go back to being a student and a student-teacher. The late night make difficult mornings and knowing when sleep trumps homework or when homework trumps lesson plans and where Relay and social activities and now work come in has not quite come yet. But it will get there. I know it will. Right now is just about repositioning, flipping, and rotating (check out all of those Geometry words!) my schedule to make it work for me. 

What does this have to do with being a teacher? Everything! Teaching is a balance. There is a balance between school and home, and a balanced routine that needs to be set in the classroom. We help children get into a balanced routine and we help them make changes as we go (visiting German Ambassadors, assemblies, birthdays, and behavior lessons to name a few in recent time). As much as we need to be flexible, the children do to.

I am also really moving away from my exceptional procrastination habits. As a teacher it brings chaos. We have enough changes that we cannot control, that I want to learn to be in control of the work and preparation I do have. 

My mentor teacher and I had a conversation about this today. We both like to be at school early. We are usually there a solid hour or more before the students arrive. Why? We need that time. We need that time to establish ourselves in the classroom and really, mentally and physically prepare for the day. Without it we rush into the chaos of the children arriving instead of helping them ease into the day. 

I realize that this was part of my frustration with last year. I was rushing everywhere all of the time. I would rush into this meeting or work or class or through homework. By the time I was settled in and prepared to begin the meeting it was almost over and I was rushing to the next thing. I don't want to be that kind of student, and I really do not want to be that kind of teacher. Prep time is invaluable. My major goal for this quarter is to use my time, really use it well. I want to stay ahead and prepare for my weeks and days appropriately. I can't promise I will not rush, but I hope to at least slow down!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"How to Raise Boys that Read"

Wall Street Journal posted an interesting article in their opinion section on helping to encourage boys to read and alternatively, what discourages them. In recent years the disparity between reading scores for boys and girls has gotten bigger. What causes that? Why does it happen? There are a few points in the article that I would like to discuss based on what I have seen in the classroom:

Everyone agrees that if boys don't read well, it's because they don't read enough. But why don't they read? A considerable number of teachers and librarians believe that boys are simply bored by the "stuffy" literature they encounter in school. According to a revealing Associated Press story in July these experts insist that we must "meet them where they are"—that is, pander to boys' untutored tastes.
For elementary- and middle-school boys, that means "books that exploit [their] love of bodily functions and gross-out humor." AP reported that one school librarian treats her pupils to "grossology" parties. "Just get 'em reading," she counsels cheerily. "Worry about what they're reading later."
I agree and disagree with this idea. I definitely agree that for all children, exposure to reading and more opportunities to read will make them better readers.
I do not agree that "stuffy" literature deters boys from reading. I think their needs to be a balance. There are many books throughout my education that I absolutely detested. This did not stop me from reading. It instead helped me determine my tastes and choices in personal reading. It is however, important to realize that I had a foundation in literacy and reading that went well beyond the school day. From the time I could walk my mom took me to the library and story hour was a favorite. We read everyday...usually multiple times. As I got older I am sure I was influenced by seeing those read around me. My mom reads daily and my dad, even though he didn't read books, read the newspaper religiously. Growing up and seeing authority figures read is important.
So what about "gross" humor. In all honesty I don't see the harm in that. It is not like all adult literature is better. With adults you might not get "gross" but I don't think anyone can deny the presence of trashy novels in bookstores. I think that we should be encouraging children to find books that tailor to their interests. If they want to read Captain Underpants or Goosebumps, let them read it. They will grow out of these books (well hopefully), but likely will not grow out of reading. 
Now letting children ONLY pick their books is a mistake in my book. I think as teachers we have the responsibility to share quality literature with the children in our class. We are essentially showing them the different types of books they too can read. I also think reader's response activities are important. Not only are they good for comprehension, they help children realize they do not have to like every story.
In my classroom, boys and girls equally enjoy when we read out loud and reading time. It is not a "boys" thing or a "girls" thing. I personally hope it stays that way. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

When I Become a Teacher

I found the following video on YouTube a few weeks ago and have watched it several times since. The video has helped me define (or begin to define) goals for myself as an educator. After all, a major way to figure out what direction to go in, is to realize what direction you don't want to go in.


I will admit this video scares me. It scares me because there is so much truth to it. So many teachers out their can fit their careers into this statement (my spring quarter placement is a prime example of this...).

The statement I found the most profound was this: "I am going to teach one year, twenty-five times." Now I am not saying that teacher's should reinvent the wheel, but it amazes me how many teachers do the exact same thing EVERY SINGLE YEAR! I mean really, we teach our children to learn from their mistakes, to work harder and continue to move beyond what they previously could do. Shouldn't that apply to teachers at well. Further more, wouldn't you get bored teaching the same thing over and over again. Do you not realize that every class is unique? Do you care? Or are you just too lazy (aka "busy") to change?

To me making changes and modifications is part of the fun. Why do the same thing when you can improve upon it. Beyond that, we are learning more and more about education and children every day. Isn't that the point of a research-based educational program?

Now, I really don't believe that there are teachers that go into teaching to be mediocre. I don't believe there are teachers who go into teachers wanting to teach to a test or through millions and millions of worksheets. But the fact is, way too many of these teachers exist. What happens? Is the system to blame? The teachers?

My mentor teacher and I had a short conversation about how few teachers seem willing to keep learning once they are in the classroom. I guess I just don't understand how a teacher---one who is supposed to inspire children to learn---does not keep learning himself or herself, and hopefully I never will understand this. Hopefully, when I have lost my desire to learn and improve as an educator and a person, I will be smart enough to stop teaching--an educator who no longer wants to learn, in my opinion, should be no where near a classroom.

Dinosaur Bones

Sometimes when we are transitioning or waiting for X and Y groups to come back together, I will talk with the children about their days, and usually about recess. The other day the children were sharing about what they did outside. One child went on and on about how he and some of the other children in the class were digging for dinosaur bones.

"Yeah, we were digging and found dinosaur bones! They were so cool. We found a T-Rex bone AND dinosaur feathers...we wanted to keep digging, but we had to go inside."

Me: "Wow, it sounds like you had a lot of fun outside. Isn't it fun to use our imagination"

3 or 4 students at once: "We weren't using our imagination! THEY WERE REAL!!!"


It is amazing how many times a day we use the word "parents" or "moms and dads" in our classroom. I would estimate at least 5 times a day. We use it in examples all of the time, when we are talking about dismissal, behavior, and when there are upcoming events...

My question is, are we being sensitive to the children in our classroom with non-traditional family circumstances. My classroom is very diverse from a familial standpoint. Several of the children in my class live with single-parents because of varying circumstances, one has two dads, two are adopted, and one lives with relatives from time to time because her mother is too ill to care for her. When we say "mom and dad" or "parents" do these children in these situations understand that we really mean guardians, or whoever is at home with them? 

Even if they do understand, how does this affect them. I know I get thrown off when people ask about my parents or use the term "moms and dad" (though this one happens a lot less being a grown-up and all now). I know that they mean no harm, but it is amazing how a simple statement can throw you into your own thoughts. Do my students have the same response that I do. When we say "moms and dads" does a child who has not had contact with his or her dad or mom in years (or even ever) think about what they are missing? Does it upset them? Do we lose their attention? 

Children at this age are very accepting of differing family situations. On occasion a child will mention something about his or her family situation---something you and I might only tell our closest friends-- and the other children may ask questions, but the questions are from curiosity, not from hate and it does not create a feeling of bitterness for them. 

When they do talk, however, we know that it is on their minds. My question is do we alienate them, purely on accident? Should we even take that chance? I know when we talk to children individually, we speak in a way that is mindful of their own unique family. Why do we revert back to the traditional family structure when we are talking with them in groups? Is it a majority rules type of situation? Does it have to be that way?

Clearly, I have been thinking about this a lot. I think that maybe a better alternative is to substitute "families" whenever possible, or even throw in a qualifier such as "moms, dads, or whoever is at home".

Will a simple change make any difference? I am not sure, but I do not think it can hurt.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lunch "Time"? Recess "Time"?

The following article was posted in the Cincinnati Enquirer at the beginning of the month:

More Students Feel Lunchtime Crunch

The article exposes a problem that is happening in a lot of the area schools, including the school I teach at. The problem: Children do not have enough time for lunch and recess, and as a result, many children are cutting their lunch and meal consumption short to get to recess. Those children who do choose to finish their meals have limited time at recess...sometimes as little as 5 minutes.

At Fairview this has become quite an issue... we have exactly 30 minutes for lunch and recess. That might sound like a lot, but it is important to realize that this time also includes walking to lunch (2-3 minutes...and this is only because my mentor teacher and I make a point to leave the classroom a little early. The other day when we were 'late' or really on time, it took us 6 minutes just to get to lunch because all of the teachers were trying to get through the hallway at once, which is practically impossible), the children who are buying getting through the lunch line (1-2 minutes), the time it takes to get to recess (1min), and lining up for dismissal from recess ( the children are always cleaned up when we get out there...and we are 1-2 minutes early). That is 7 minutes just in transitional time. 23minutes. For lunch and recess. With elementary age children.

So it comes down to this..lunch or recess? If the children choose lunch, they get the fuel they need for the rest of the day, but they miss out on the equally important time to burn some energy, exercise, act like a kid, and get out the jitters before the rest of the day (and trust me they need to get the jitters out!). If the children choose recess, which I suspect most of them do, they miss out on a meal or part of a meal...and take a guess which parts will be left...I don't think I need to explain to you the importance of eating a meal.

Will it change? Should it change? Is a few more minutes of instructional time worth it? I believe that you can get higher quality instruction with your students if they 1. are hungry (I mean really, who can concentrate when they are hungry...I sure can't)  or 2.Can't sit still. Another equally important thing to realize is that lunch and recess is a time that is less structured for children to really form social bonds and develop socially. I don't know about you, but I think social skills are pretty important (if you need proof I can introduce you to a few people without them).

Turkey Vultures?

Today we began our Social Studies unit on Community Helpers. We did a quick introductory activity and then brainstormed all of the community helpers we could think of on the board. Most of the answers were fairly expected...doctors, police officers, figherfighters... one child's however:

"Turkey Vultures  because they take all of the dead stuff of the street after cars hit it."

p.s when I got home today I had to google "Turkey Vultures"...they actually are a type of vulture. Points to my first grader for knowing that :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Supporting Education: an Effort of Many

These past few days I have been exposed to some of the many ways a child's education is supported outside of the classroom.

I firmly believe that families and communities set the precedence for and teach the value of education to children. Teachers, in my opinion, can facilitate growth, learning, and even inspire the love of learning in children. I do not, however, think that they can teach a child to value education. Children who have parents who are educated can see how this effects their parents. On some level they understand that what their parents do and have stemmed from their education. Beyond parent's having their own education (as many parents do not), parents and loved ones that surround the child need to show an enthusiasm for school, learning, and education. 

My parents, for example, never finished college. Despite not having a degree, they encouraged me to learn. I was asked about my day, had homework help, went to the library, and was taught to behave at school. Going to school was my job. I grew up knowing and believing that education was an essential ingredient to success--my parents taught me that. I knew that I was expected to go to college. Even if I could not afford to go to school, I was taught that their were options and that your education is an investment in your future. A college education is worth the debt. My upbringing taught me that your experience in school is a reflection of the effort you put into it. My mom always told me that she would rather see me get a C in a class that I worked hard in than an A in a "blow-off" class. I took honors classes often knowing that I might not always get the A, but it would be worth the extra effort--the enrichment, the more in depth studies, and the level of critical thinking (well, I know that now at least). In the words of Taylor Mali, "I can make a C+ feel like a congressional medal of honor, and I can make an A- seem like a slap in the face." 

I believe the most successful schools are those located in communities where its members value education, and even more importantly set a standard for education. We need to show our children that education is important. We need to model it and reinforce it over and over again. That is why I love the things I have seen this week:

1. I attended a GEBAS meeting (our school's version of the PTA) last night. Not that I needed to see a meeting at Fairview (growing up with my mom and all) to realize this, but it was both encouraging to see parents who cared so much about their children's education and the education of their classmates, and discouraging to see how few parents actually attended (see upcoming post, "teaching involvement?") the meeting. These parent at this meeting showed how important their child's education was to them by becoming a part of the school, understanding and helping problem solve with the school to create a better education/ educational environment for their children. I do wonder, however, if they realize the intangible impact they have (beyond helping support the teachers and school monetarily and with activities...which of course has a huge impact as well).

2. President Obama gave the annual presidential back to school speech today. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/09/13/remarks-president-barack-obama-prepared-delivery-back-school-speech While I really did not think it was the most inspirational speech I have seen from him (though I did just read it and not watch it which makes a huge difference) and I really think he should have a separate, more appropriate address for elementary age students; the point is that he, in the role of a huge authority figure, is telling kids the importance of getting an education. Here is a great example of reinforcing the value of education to our students:
"But here is what I came to Masterman to tell you: nobody gets to write your destiny but you. Your future is in your hands. Your life is what you make of it. And nothing – absolutely nothing – is beyond your reach. So long as you’re willing to dream big. So long as you’re willing to work hard. So long as you’re willing to stay focused on your education.
That last part is absolutely essential – because an education has never been more important. I’m sure there will be times in the months ahead when you’re staying up late cramming for a test, or dragging yourselves out of bed on a rainy morning, and wondering if it’s all worth it. Let me tell you, there is no question about it. Nothing will have as great an impact on your success in life as your education."
3. The Marvin Lewis Community Fund kicked off their "Learning is Cool" campaign in CPS schools today. http://www.marvinlewis.org/learningiscool.aspx For those of you who do not know, Marvin Lewis is the head coach of the Bengals. This program provides free folders and notebooks to children in CPS schools. Additionally, they provide quarterly incentives for children in CPS schools who make the honor roll, or equivalent of the honor roll.  At the end of the year he and the Bengals players host a recognition ceremony at Paul Brown Stadium.

I really like this program because it reinforces the value of education from a pop cultural standpoint. I think it can potentially impact students who might not necessarily care if their parents, teachers or President Obama tell them how important school is. I will, however, say that I think their should be room to measure student growth...not all students, can make the honor roll, but their should be some way to recognize those who have made awesome achievements at their level. 

Football players are cool. It is more than just a cultural stereotype--children, especially boys, admire professional athletes. I think this program helps children realize that the players they idolize value education. These people care about their success beyond the field. Plus, any time you attach a big name to something, there is a better chance of drawing media, organizations, and community members' attention. The Bengals have influence in their community and it is nice to see them use their influence to support education.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I saw this article in NY Times a few weeks ago and it really caught my attention:


Holding children back was not something that I had really considered prior to starting my student teaching. Beginning in my first practicum, I have seen and even taken part in discussions about whether or not to hold a child back (or in the case of preschool practicum, delay starting Kindergarten).

I have not formed a clear opinion on the topic yet, but here is what I do know and some questions I have:

- Some children may just not be ready for kindergarten yet. Despite age, social and developmental skills may need some time...especially for late birthdays.

- The decision to hold a child back should be a joint decision between parents and the school.

- Some children are ready early for school. Once in school, we expect that not all children will be on the same level, but at what point do you hold a child back? Can development be achieved in a different way (extra attention by teachers, tutors, family enrichment)?

-  How will the child be affected socially/ emotionally?

- How do you explain repeating a grade to the child? It is important that the child realize that repeating a grade is not a punishment and does not mean that they are stupid. How do you make them understand this?

My current first grade class has two children who repeated kindergarten, one who is in our class repeating first grade, and one who went back to kindergarten. The situations of these children are all unique and each brings forwards concerns and challenges. One challenge in particular is the resulting age range we have among our class. Our youngest student will be turning six in a week and our oldest student will be turning eight during the year. That is a HUGE age range when working with young children and can at times present challenges, especially on the social dynamic in the class.

Another challenge that we have right now is working with a child who is repeating first grade not because of academic skill, but based on parental preference. This can be difficult to keep him from becoming bored or "giving away" answers to things he has seen before. The last thing we want is for him to become frustrated or to feel like we are wasting his time. I think it is also harder to explain to a child why they have to repeat first grade when it is not based on academics.

What about the children who are advanced socially, but not academically? This was the situation for a student in my kindergarten practicum. It was an equally, if not more difficult decision. How would this child feel about being around much younger children? How would this affect his social situation? Would he become frustrated and act out? Is it better to send him ahead without the needed academic skills or hold him back and risk social isolation?

In charge?

On Friday my mentor teacher was absent from school. She knew in advance and asked if I would like to be in charge for the day. I agreed and we started planning for the day. On Friday, I was not sure what to expect. From the beginning of this experience, my mentor teacher and I have been working to define my role as a student-teacher to our class. My mentor teacher summed it up best when she explained to the children that "We work as a team. Sometimes one of us will be teaching while the other watches, and sometimes both of us will be watching." My mentor teacher made it clear that I have the same authority she does and that I deserve the same respect as she does in the classroom. So far the children have responded well. They listen to both of us equally, and respect us as a team in the room. Even though they have responded well, I wondered if it would be the same if my mentor teacher was not in the room. Would the children act up? Test their limits?

Friday ended up going really well. There was nothing that really threw me off, and I felt prepared to run the classroom. It definitely helped that we had an awesome substitute who taught for several years and regularly subs in our building. The day went pretty smoothly with a few exceptions. There were a few times where it took some time to get the children to quiet or calm down...especially before Fun Friday started, but I do not think this would have been much different had my mentor teacher been present. The morning went really well, as the children seemed to be trying to be on their very best behavior--their behavior in the hallway was unprecedented! Our CAFE (reading) time, was the most difficult time of the day. The children seemed really antsy and our silent, stamina, reading time was anything but silent. We split up into groups for the next part, which turned out to be very difficult to get both groups started and on task. I would like to improve on my direction giving skills because I think in this instance that had I been a little bit more clear, things would have ran better. One big mistake that I realized was that during this time I forgot to specifically tell the children what they could do when they finished their task (even though the answer is always the same). As a result, I had children coming up to me left and right to ask what to do next. I guess a lesson for me is to be clear and specific. I also think that organizing my thoughts and directions before hand will be a huge help.

Friday turned out to be an awesome confidence boost and one more reassurance that I might just be ready for my own classroom post-graduation.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Library Mouse Writing Activity

My mentor teacher and I are working hard to help the children in our classroom understand that even if their handwriting isn't the best or they don't know how to spell every (or any) words, they can still be a writer. It is important to us that they see themselves as writers. We have worked on many different types of writing already including letters, invitations (see open house post), books, lists, and notes.

One of my favorite activities so far centered around the children's book Library Mouse. For those of you who have never read Library Mouse it is a story of a mouse, Sam, who lives inside of the library. Sam loves the library and decides that he wants to be an author. Sam writes "mouse size" books and after the library closes each night he puts his books out on the shelves. The librarian and children in the library LOVE his books! They desperately want to meet the "mystery" author and post an invitation to the author to join them in the library. Sam doesn't know what to do...He is sure that they would not accept a mouse in the library. I am sorry to give away the ending, but Sam decides to help the children realize they can be authors just like him. He works all night  making a stack of mouse size books. Then, he cuts a hole in a box that says "meet the author" and sticks a mirror inside of the box. When the children look in to meet the author, they see themselves!

We read the book on day one of the lesson and talked about how everyone, even kids, can be writers. The next day we created blank mouse size books (a piece of copy paper cut into fourths and stapled like a book). We set the books next to a shoe box that said "Meet the Author". One by one the children opened up the box and saw themselves! We sent them back to their seats to create their books. For this activity they were allowed to write  about anything they wanted--just like Sam did. We had been talking a lot about imagination and the children came up with some great book ideas!

This activity went really well. Even the children who are hesitant writers loved making mouse size books. I think it was a little less intimidating to them because there was not a huge page to fill. Some of the children added as many as 4 extra pages! The children kept their books to share with their parents at open house later in the week. One child in our class was so excited about Library Mouse that she went to the library and found the newest Library Mouse book to share with the class!

Here is a link to find out more about Library Mouse and the author, Daniel Kirk's other books!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Compliments from First Grade Fashion Critics

To go along with my previous post, "I see London, I see France..." I thought I would share some of my favorite fashion related quotes:

Child: "Miss Prinzo, you look like Cruella Deville today."
Me: "That doesn't sound very nice. What makes you say that?"
Child: "Well.. Your shirt is black and white. And your skirt is black and white. And if your hair had a white steak in it, you would look like her." (sometimes it is better not to ask ;)

"Miss Prinzo, I love your outfits. I love your shirt. My grandpa has one just like it."

(on the day my mentor and I happened to match...we both had on black bottoms and a magenta shirt) "Oh my gosh...you two are twins!" "Look you are twins!" "You look exactly alike!" The best part of this is that a week or so later, when my mentor teacher and I were wearing the exact same Fairview shirt and capris, not a single child noticed or mentioned anything all day.

I see London, I see France...

I see your child's underpants. Seriously. I do, all day long, every day. I know it has been a while since some of you have been in an elementary  school, but their is a lot of sitting on the floor, recess, game playing and of course, gym class. Skirts are just not ideal for these activities. So this post is for parents...If your child wants to wear a skirt, put some shorts, tights, or leggings on underneath. While we are on the topic here are some other related thoughts:

Allowing your child to pick out their own clothes does not reflect badly on your parenting skills. In fact it reinforces decision making and independence. Additionally, it often puts a smile on my face. I understand that your child's choice to wear 6 non-matching colors and prints or a brown patterned skirt with a rainbow striped shirt cannot be found in a fashion magazine, but it does make your child unique and often gives them something to talk about. (a personal favorite outfit of mine: the child who came to school with 10+ hair clips clipped on to her shirt).

There are some things that do reflect badly on you as a parent (at least in my eyes)... Allowing your child to wear dirty or unclean clothes. We as teachers notice, and other children usually do as well. As a parent, make sure your child's clothes are clean (now don't freak out, a stain from breakfast is not dirty.We understand your child is not Mr.Tide or Miss. Clorox...). It helps teach personal responsibility and hygiene.

Another wardrobe concern relates to weather. If it is below 40 degrees outside, do not let your child wear shorts, skirts without tights or leggings, or sandals. It is TOO cold. There is a line between giving your child the freedom to choose their wardrobe and making sure your child is appropriately dressed for the weather. This rule also applies to winter coats, hats, gloves and boots.

Be practical! If it is gym day make sure your child wears gym shoes (not flip flops, sandals two sizes too big, or flats with no tread on them). If it is an art day, do not send your child in a brand new white T-shirt. If it is going to be cold outside make sure your child can put on his or her own gloves (if they can't there is this awesome type of glove called a mitten...you may have heard of it). If it is going to be hot outside three layers of long sleeves probably isn't the best idea.

In my opinion a child's wardrobe, like for adults, should be a reflection of individuality. It should not, however, be free from rules and the teaching of appropriateness.

What Teacher's Make

This is a short, but powerful video posted on Scholastic Teachers the other day that I think is a good conversation starter to something that has been on my mind a lot lately....


So what do teachers make? If you are one to judge your success and failure on income, teaching is not your profession. I don't know a single teacher that went into education to make money. At the same time, it is frustrating to know that I have friends in the medical or engineering fields who will make more in their first year out of college than I will make halfway through my career. It is frustrating to watch the news on Labor Day and hear this statistic joked about by morning hosts. It is frustrating to hear my mentor teacher talk about problems with contract negotiations and how Cincinnati Public School teachers have not had a raise in SIX YEARS.

Despite all of this, the teaching profession is still considered to be one of the most trustworthy professions. People want reassurance that we will take good care of their children (and I know I for one, will); the nation as a whole expects us to prepare our future professionals we are expected to teach children how to share, work as a team, and become independent. We teach children to read, write, spell, compute, analyze, research, problem solve, and analyze. We nurture, set guidelines and goals, and work to keep our children safe and healthy. This is the education that if I was a parent I would want for my children. This is the education I hope to give every child. I believe that this is the education our society values. My concern is that the value of education, as with many other necessary and trustworthy professions (social workers immediately come to mind), in a society dependent on capitalism, does not show. We want the best for our children, but we aren't willing to pay for it? This is not even just about salary. It is the idea that schools and classrooms often have to operate below their potential because the resources they need are not available to them. (This is what makes places like Crayons 2 Computers so great!)

Maybe this is something that makes teachers (and people in similar professions) successful. We care more about the welfare of children and sustaining a successful community than we do about making money. We perceive success away from the constraints of money and property.

On a more personal note: I want to be a teacher.I choose to be a teacher. It is more important to me to do something that makes me happy, that can make an impact in so many lives, than make a lot of money (and I really think I could do well in a higher paying profession if I really wanted to). At the same time, I have experienced the difference between a comfortable, middle class lifestyle and the fear, anxiety, and frustration of trying to support a family on limited or no income. It is hard trying to make a lot out of little to nothing and even harder to sacrifice necessities as an individual or as a family. Realizing that I am choosing to continue the latter for at least a few more years, if not the rest of my life is disheartening and terrifying. I guess it wouldn't be a goal or a dream without a sacrifice. Maybe it is possible to have both, but right now I don't have that answer. I will let you know when I find it.

Other links, sources of info, and topics mentioned:


http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2009/12/29/then-vs-now-how-prices-have-changed-since-1999/ (this shows how much things have changed in 11 years, the best I could do to show the sacrafices of CPS teachers who have gone without a raise for half of this time.

http://www.crayons2computers.org/ an organization trying to help make things right :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Life according to the children at Wynn Center

As the intro to "Kids Say the Darndest Things: Miss Prinzo Edition" I would like to go back in time and share the    thoughts I collected when I worked at the Wynn Center.

For those of you who do not know, the Wynn Center was the site of my sophomore year work-study position. It was my first time in a pre-school/day care setting and I learned a lot. Looking back, I wish that I knew then what I know now about working with children. I think I could have done so much more good.

The Wynn Center is a non-profit preschool/day care center that enrolls children from low-income families. Almost all of the children there receive some sort of voucher and many qualify for HeadStart. Working at Wynn Center opened my eyes and helped me really see what it means to live in poverty or to work at an urban school. Many of the children in my classroom dealt with more in their four or five years than I have in my entire life. It was emotionally draining, but by far the most rewarding thing I have ever done. The children there, like all of the children I have ever taught, helped me learn about myself--my strengths and abilities, and my weaknesses. Though almost two years ago, and before any of my cohort or formal teaching experiences, I regard working with the children at Wynn Center one of the most influential parts of my education. I will write about the children and experience from time to time and I hope this background will give you reference for future posts.

Now on to the fun...Here are their words!

Life According to the Children at Wynn Center:

Miss Michelle: “We all live in the United States”
Carlos: “No I don’t! I live at HOME!”

Orlando: (telling Isiah to spray more water from the hose) “Turn up the volume!”

Antwaine: "Miss Michelle, David called me a cry baby! I am not a cry baby!"
 (1 second passes)

Miss Michelle (reading) “I see with my…”
Carlos: “eyes!”
Miss Michelle : “ I hear with my…”
Carlos: “ears!”
Miss Michelle “I touch with my…”
Carlos: “Rabbit!”

Miss Jasmine: “Tell the doctor what happened.”
Carlos and Tayerra: “What happened.”

(Playing tag) Orlando: “I’m in the basement!  I’m in the basement!”
            Translation… “I’m on base!”

Tayerra (pointing to a watermelon): “Look! A pickle!”

On Pets:
Ziala: “I have a spider in my house. It’s my puppy!”

Kyndall (jealous that Maylani has a new puppy): “Miss Michelle, I have a puppy”
Miss Michelle: “You do?”
Kyndall: “Yes, it’s pink and has fur. It’s a kitty.”
Miss Michelle: “So did you get a puppy or a kitty?”
Kyndall: “Both. It’s a puppy kitty”
Miss Michelle: “You have a pink puppy kitty?”
Kyndall: “Yes”

On relationships:
            Ms. Bernie: “Where do boyfriends and girlfriends go on dates?”
            Orlando: “To the store.”
            Kid #1: “Miss Michelle, are you married?”
            Kid #2: “No! Teacher’s can’t get married!”
On growing up:
Isiah: “Miss Michelle, you are old! How old are you? Eight?”

Kyndall: “He’s BIG! He’s like a mommy now!”
Antwaine: “Actually…He’s like a daddy!”

Carlos: “I am NOT a girl-ly! I’m a Boy-ly!”

On diversity:
            Ziala: “Miss Michelle, you look like a white girl!”
            Miss Michelle: “Ziala, I am a white girl”
            Ziala: “oh, okay!”

            Mikyale: “Miss Michelle, how did you get white?”

Math Lessons:
            David: “I’m smarter than you! I know what 2+2 is… It’s 18!”
            Isiah: “No it’s not! It’s 16!”

On Politics…November 5, 2008:
            Teachers: “Who is the president of the United States?”
            Preschoolers: “Barack Obama!”
            Teachers: “Who can name some of the other presidents?”
            Student: “God and Jesus”

On pop culture:
            Kiyone: “Miss Michelle, Deonte won’t let me call him Deonte!”
            Deonte: “That’s not my name!”
            Miss Michelle: “It was Deonte yesterday…What is it today?”
            Deonte: “My last name is H. My middle name is H. My first name is H.”
            Miss Michelle: “Your name is HHH?”
            Deonte: “Yes! My name is Triple H”

            Toddleah: “Miss Michelle, can you do the ‘Stanky Leg’?”

            Carlos (commenting on Ethan’s “Hat day” hat): “Ethan looks like Chis Brown!”

            Orlando:  “Look its jumping! It’s doing the ‘soulja boy’!”

Tayerra (singing and dancing for the camera...she is 2 ½ years old…): “Apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur, the whole friends was lookin’…she hit the floor (hit the floor) and then goes low, low, low...Apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur…”

On Religion:
(Playing “party” in the Kitchen area) Isiah: “It’s time to eat…God is good, God is great. Let’s rock n’ roll in the name a Jesus Christ. Amen”

The ultimate “That’s what she said”:
(while playing some game that involved rhythmically hitting their hands on the table…)
            David: “ DO IT!…DO IT!…DO IT!…DO IT!...DO IT!...DO IT!”
            Nahyal: “NO DO ME! DO ME!”
            David: “HARDER!...HARDER!...HARDER!...HARDER!...HARDER!”
            Nahyal: “STOP! YOU ARE DOING IT TOO HARD!”

Welcome to my blog!

This past summer I have become an avid reader of blogs. The creativity, personality, and content of the blogs amazes me. It wasn't until a classmate of mine started a blog about her student teaching experience in an urban school district that I realized the benefit a blog could have in my life/my own student teaching experience (the two are synonymous right now!). I hope to use my blog to reflect, share, organize and re-conceptualize my views as a (future) educator.

Right now I am hoping to categorize my posts into the following areas:
1. Daily experiences--general reflections on my day/week
2. Kid's Say the Darndest Things, Miss Prinzo edition---these posts will be the fun stuff, the 'what the hell did he/she just say' moments of the day that I have been promising my mom I would write down.
3. Education in the News--I try to read national and local (Cincy and Akron) education related news every day. When I find something interesting I will try to post them. Sometimes I want to comment and other times just share or remember.
4. Activities and Ideas-- In the words of my supervisor, "beg, borrow, steal". This section will help me organize activities and suggestions that I hope to use in my own classroom. I keep notebook paper in my practicum binder for this purpose during the day and will transfer those ideas to here and add in ideas found in other places.
5.  Links, etc.--this section will be for links of interest

I have a huge list of things I am ready to blog about (it is amazing how much has already happen in the past three weeks!). The posts will come VERY frequently for the next few days, and my goal is to update at least three times a week throughout my student teaching experience.

Enjoy and feel free to comment, post, disagree, and share your opinion. The more perspectives, the better!