14 Easy Christmas Gifts You can get RIGHT NOW!

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Happy shopping season! It is that time of year where you are running around trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Well, today I thought I would help you out by sharing some of my favorite things that may just be perfect for someone on your list. In this blog post you will find gifts for teachers, bloggers, techy friends and so much more!

Let's get to shopping! 

(note: all items contain direct links)

Gifts for the Teacher in your life:

Your best bet is to get a GIFT CARD to Target, Starbucks, Amazon or any other stores that they frequent. 

If you want to give them a little more than a gift card, here are a few other ideas! 

You can NEVER go wrong with getting a Teacher a brand new pack of Mr. Sketch Markers! I love using these skinny ones to grade papers or write smelly notes for my students. The broad tip markers are also another great choice! Heck, WHY NOT GET THEM BOTH! Skinny Sketch markers.

 

A Doorbell! I know this seems crazy, but trust me. I use this doorbell in my classroom and it has not only saved my voice, but my sanity as well. With 50+ different tones and a quick set up, this gift is bound to excite any teacher for the Holidays! http://amzn.to/2zk3hRc

 

Any teacher will squeal with joy when they see ASTROBRIGHTS paper! With copy budgets being tight and not being able to make copies in color, bright colored paper is the way teachers are still bringing the rainbow into their classroom! There are A TON of color options so you can find a color to match any classroom! 

 

Speaking of tight printing budgets you can bring any teacher to tears by purchasing a printer for them to print at home! I use this printer to avoid high printing costs by using HP Instant Ink, now I don't have to decide which centers need to be black and white and which ones can be printed in color. I CAN PRINT EVERYTHING IN COLOR and save myself time and money! Use this link to get 3 months free! 

 

Finally, do the teacher in your life a favor and buy them some pre-sharpened pencils. I swear my students eat them and by December they are writing with small stubs and all the nice pencils have disappeared. No teacher has time to sharpen 20-some pencils, so help them out with some Pre-Sharpened Ticonderoga pencils...they are bound to bring a smile to any teachers face! 

 

Gifts for the Techie/Vlogger/InstaGrammer

So many teachers have started creating their own side hustle or they are simply obsessed with the latest technology. Here are some of my FAVORITE Tech gifts for the TECHIE in your life:

Say hello to the Square Jellyfish Tripod Mount! Do you have someone who does Live videos on Instagram or Facebook?  This Mount is simply AH-MAZ-ING! The strong grip, 360- Swivel and Lifetime Warranty easily make it one of the best! 

 

If you have a mount, you are going to need a sturdy tripod for videos or product pictures. Say hello to my fave tripod the Joby GorillaPod ! This tripod comes with a ball head bundle making it easy to set up with your Jelly fish mount and get right to work. This stand is great for DSLR cameras as well! Sturdy, flexible and just what you need to get your side hustle up and rollin'!

 

YES!! These babies are on my wishlist this year. I have the wired beats and love them, but as I travel and work out the cord drives me nuts! Say hello to the Beats Solo3 Wireless ... I absolutely love how comfy and sound proof my beats are! I've got all the heart eyes for these wireless pair as I use these babies to jam out while I'm grading in my classroom, or on the plane when I am working (trust me these babies have blocked out screaming children on a plane!). They are a solid investment for any tech lovin' soul! 

 

This little guy is a total life saver! I store all of my creations, pictures, music etc on this little guy which saves my computer or laptop from running slow! It was a solid investment to removing large files from my computer that I needed without running my laptop into the ground.  This is perfect to transport files between computers or store your life on it, like I do. I love mine so much it even has a name, Tiny Dude. You can grab your very own Tiny Dude here!

 

I often get asked what I use for lighting in my pictures and videos, so..here it is! This is the Prismatic Mini Halo Ring light. It is a smaller ring light that packs a powerful punch. With a dimmable light, carrying case and collapsible stand, this baby can go anywhere at anytime. I like that it is smaller so it doesn't take up a ton of space like stuido lighting or a full size ring light. It truly is one of my faves!  This is perfect for staging product photos, shooting live videos, head shots and so much more! 

 

Gifts that anyone will enjoy!

I know that not everyone on your list is a teacher or will enjoy some of the things listed above, so I thought I would also share some of my favorites that I have given to my friends and family in the past. 

 

If you have followed me long you know that I am OBSESSED with Wax Buffalo Candles. These pure soy goodies smell amazing and are locally made right here in Lincoln, Nebraska. Some of my favorite scents include: Sweet Tobacco, Cinnamon/Clove (from the Christmas collection), The Orchard (from the fall Collection) and Rosemary + Mint for an uplifting clean smell. These scents also come in wax melts and are guaranteed to make anyone smile! 

 

I love shopping small and I discovered Soap and Paper Factory a few years ago and fell in love. I have extremely dry skin during the winter and my hands usually crack. I was tired of using awful smelling creams that really didn't help my hands. I love their hand creams and they truly help my skin. My favorite scents are Madagascar Vanilla and Winter Vanilla (from their winter collection). These are great stocking stuffers and they have so many options! I have ordered these as gifts for colleagues and they are definitely a favorite! 

 

Hello my sweet tooth peeps! LuLuBee Chocolate is to die for!  This is one of my favorite people and creators I have ever met through Instagram and to make it better, she is right here in Lincoln!  I got to meet Gaylene at a craft fair where she told me the story of how she began making these delicious chocolates, how her business name was inspired by her two daughters and how she loves sharing her creations with the world. Her chocolate is truly beautiful and delicious and made with love. The English Toffee is one of my favorites!

 

Need a cute way to fight the cold? Love Your Melon is the way to go!  From hats to scarves, this company has amazingly adorable hats with an even better purpose. Every hat purchased helps provide a hat to a child battling cancer.  This company was created in an entrepreneurship class in Minnesota and slowly evolved into a  worldwide movement! 

 

So, there ya have it folks! There are a few of my favorite things to help you get started this Holiday season! For more ideas, check out the live list of items I will be adding to throughout the year! 

 

I hope this list has helped you find some ideas to tackle your shopping list! 

Happy Holidays! 

Thanks for stoppin' by

Dyscalculia: My Lifetime Struggle with Math

Hey there, folks! Today I am here to share more information about my struggles with my learning disability/brain disorder-Dyscalculia.

Some of you may have already watched my Megabyte Monday video where I discussed this and cried (I seriously hate that I cried), but if you haven't click here or scroll to the very bottom of this post!  

Clearly, this is something I have struggled with my whole life. No matter how many amazing teachers I have had or methods I have had introduced to me, my dyscalculia will never go away....I will always struggle. This is something I have had to come to terms with in my adult life and it is something that ,still to this day, many people make fun of me for....and yes...it still hurts...more than you will ever know.  However, I have also learned that by being open and advocating for myself that ,yes, dyscalculia is a thing and ,yes I have it...there are more and more people that protect me, love me and support me in spite of this struggle. 

As an educator living with this disability I have decided to research and educate myself on this topic so that I can:

 

1) Help my students and be able to recognize the early signs of Dyscalculia

2) Spread my knowledge and story to educators in hopes that they will be able to help students like me and not become a "Ms. Hawk" to their students. (see Megabyte Monday to know who Ms. Hawk is)

 

Today, my goal is to share resources with you so that you can remain aware of this learning disability and hopefully help a student from feeling the way I have for so many years. 

 

What is Dyscalculia?

By definition it is the severe difficulty in making arithmetical calculations, as result of a brain disorder. 

Now, I did not suffer brain damage in my lifetime so I am considered to have "developmental dyscalculia", but it is important to know that if one suffers a stroke or severe damage to the brain it could cause symptoms of Dyscalculia. 

 

If you google "Dyscalculia" you will see a large list of information, blog posts, "cures" etc. and by reading through these you will begin to see that there are some discrepancies between sources. That is why I look to the amazing Jo Boaler for information on Math anxiety and her brain research of what occurs when a child does math! CLICK HERE!  Another great resource is to search through Google Scholar to find the latest research and cast studies! Needless to say, there is still a lot to learn about Dyscalculia even though the term was coined in 1968 very little is known about this disorder. 

 

You are probably sitting there going, "Okay Meg, but how do I know what this looks like?"

GREAT QUESTION! The truth is that Dyscalculia looks different for everyone. There are many signs of this learning disability, but before I share those you must promise me that:

1) You will not use this information to start viewing every child that struggles with Math as someone who has this disability

2) You will understand that society has made us view Math as something that SHOULD be hard and complex while Reading is viewed in a totally different light 

and 

3) YOU WILL REMAIN PATIENT WITH ANY CHILD THAT STRUGGLES! (yes, this may seem like a 'duh' statement, but you would be amazed at the things people said to me)

So, do we have a deal?!

Great!

First things first....DYSLEXIA AND DYSCALCULIA ARE NOT THE SAME THING!!! 

Having one of these doesn't mean that you automatically have the other.  I have never struggled with reading, spelling or writing...in fact...these areas are where my strengths lie. After talking with my mom I discovered that I was considered "above average" in school, but my teachers never understood why I "didn't get" math.  Some thought I was being lazy, some thought that I had "peaked" in my intelligence (hello closed mindset) , while others just got frustrated with me, often.  My parents had me tested for dyslexia, which goes to show how little is known about this disorder,  and tested for Special Education services...you can probably guess that I didn't qualify for either. 

I remember early on thinking numbers were strange (kindergarten is when I made this discovery). They were these wiggle things on paper that actually represented things, but I didn't know what things they represented.  On of my earliest memories was trying to make sense of how this thing called a "number" could represent something off of a page. See, in reading sounds are made by letters, but letters aren't tangible...but these number things were...? Just weird. 

So, I decided to analyze these numbers on my page. I began to notice that these numbers had bumps and points that seemed to match their "value"...

1...has one point at the top, 2....has two points one at the top and one and the bottom, 3...has three points.....aha! I had figured it out...it was like a secret language! Well, not really, because my whole method was shattered when I began to reach numbers like 6 & 7....they don't have points! 

From here on, I decided I just needed to memorize....I am very good at memorizing...I am a visual learner, so this wasn't a problem for me. I could look at a number and tell you what it was, but I couldn't tell you what it meant. 

Moving on to first grade things got complicated, all of a sudden these number things were growing and shrinking.

WHAT?!! You mean these things work together?!!

I relied on manipulatives heavily and when I was made fun of for it, I resorted to using my fingers. I truly had no idea what I was doing and I quickly learned that math wasn't easy for me. Teacher's became frustrated, peers began to mock me and call me dumb, and I began to believe that I was stupid. To hear the rest of this story, you will need to go and watch my Megabyte Monday Replay (embedded at the bottom of this post) . 

This was just the beginning of years of ridicule, testing, struggle and feeling worthless.  At the age of 28, I have decided to open up and tell my story, because there is no use hiding anymore.  I cannot be the only one that has this and I don't want anyone to feel the way that I have felt for so long! 

Ways to help...

Throughout my research I have not come across an intervention for dyscalculia, but I have hope that there will someday be an intervention for this hidden disorder. 

What I do know is that one of the biggest ways you can help a child with Dyscalculia is with your patience and understanding. Make math visual, hands-on and do not ever skip through foundational skills. Do not take away concrete objects from a student that struggles and do not control the process for them, instead sit back and observe so you can see how they are making sense of mathematics. Understand that speed is not a defining factor when it comes to intelligence. The worlds leading mathematicians will spend years working on one problem, so why must we rush our students through concepts!?! Speed is one thing I will never have when it comes to math & to this day people still judge me for that. I have learned how to keep my anxiety at bay, but the judgement of colleagues will never cease, sadly.  

 

I spent many years with tutors, online programs, teachers that wanted to help and professors that wanted to protect me. Despite all of those things, I still struggle to this day, but my struggle does not mean that I am inadequate. Dyscalculia does not mean I am not intelligent, in fact I believe it means the opposite. My Dyscalculia, although a deep wound, has built and shaped me into an amazing educator that understands struggle.  This learning disability has helped me view the world differently and see that there is not just ONE WAY to learn & for that I am grateful.  Do not pity me for my struggle for I have embraced it, instead I hope that you seek information and learn from my story so that you can help a child in your classroom. 

 

 

Thank you so much for stoppin' by

To hear more I have linked 2 videos where I discuss my learning disability in depth. You can check them out below! 

How to Immediately Boost Positive Behavior with One Easy Game

We have all been there...you are standing in front of your classroom at a complete loss. It seems as though you are watching animals at the zoo, they are doing strange things you have never seen and you have tried every trick in the bag.  What are you going to do?

I have been there.

Wanting to crawl under my guided reading table and simply hide from it all. Reaching out to everyone I can and trying multiple strategies only to have nothing change. It is frustrating, exhausting and puts you in a dark place of total grumpiness. 

Today I am going to give you a simple strategy that has turned my classroom around. 

It will take you being SUPER consistent with your expectations and focusing on the positive. 

I give to you...

TeachervClassMC

Teacher vs. Class

All you will need is a writing utensil and something to display this chart on. 

It is a simple T-chart where you will manage behavior with tally marks. Each time students do not follow directions, are off task, blurt, etc. the Teacher earns a point! I like to announce to my class that "Oh no! It looks like I earned a point." I don't call out any specific student, but it let's them know that not everyone was on task or doing what I had asked. In my classroom students can earn points:

- Stopping immediately after a classroom call back

- Following 2-3 step directions in under 1 minute (without running of course)

- Lining up quickly/quietly with voices off and eyes forward ready for the hallway

                                                                                                                     - Raising hands to answer questions during lessons 

You get the idea...

So far, this simple game has helped manage behaviors that were driving me bonkers! It is simple and extremely effective. Now, I am sure you are wondering : Do I keep it running all day? What are students earning that keeps them going? 

"Do I keep a running tally all day?"

No, I erase the points during large transitions in our day. We have them run from Morning until Lunch, Lunch to Second Recess and Recess to the End of the day. I noticed that my students had the most trouble with running tally marks, so I decided to split our day into more manageable pieces. 

"What are they working for?"

I brainstormed different "rewards" for my students. If they have more points than I do as we approach a large transition, they can go early! I take the difference between my total and their total and that is how many minutes they go out early to recess. I also use the difference to give them time for Free Read, the length of a GoNoodle brain break, or short clips of Pixar movies. All of these rewards are simple and the kids love earning them! I also knock out reviewing subtraction by having them find the difference between our totals. 

If the Teacher total is higher, we take those minutes and they owe me that time for instruction, work time, etc. This allows me to cover content we missed to help students during work-time that I otherwise would have lost. It has really helped us stay focused and make up for minutes that have been lost in the past due to behavior. 

 

So there you have, a simple way to help get your class back on track. No need to purchase any fancy items, try any online accounts or anything! It is simple to implement and effective on managing those tough behaviors that seem to knock us into a world of grumpiness. 

Give it a shot and tell me what you think! Still have questions or need something clarified? Email me at meg@megscrayons.com or shoot me a message on Instagram (megscrayons) & I would be more than happy to help! 

 

Thanks for stoppin' by!

Mind blowing ways to quickly launch flexible seating now!

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If you have been around at all in the past few years, you may have noticed the explosion with flexible and alternative seating in classrooms. You can find amazing blog posts from Greg Smedley, Kayla Delzer, Erin Klein, Angie Olson and many more!

I am here today to share my spin on things when it comes to flexible seating. I feel that, while there have been many amazing posts about flexible seating, there have not been any about unique situations when it comes to parameters, demographics and other factors. 

And that, my friends, is what I intend to share with you! 

Now, please keep in mind that my demographic is different than most. I also run my flexible seating within my administrators and districts parameters. This post is not to go against or disagree with those that I have listed above that inspired me to take the leap into this world of flexible seating. This post is to simply share how flexible seating can be run and how I make it work for my students and myself. 

 

Let's get rollin'!

*WARNING: THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS MATERIALS YOU WILL NEED TO LAUNCH FLEXIBLE SEATING IN YOUR CLASSROOM. READ CAREFULLY TO FIND YOUR MATERIALS*

I have been working on phasing into flexible seating in my classroom for 2 years now. I have received a lot of questions about why and how I make this happen. and today I will answer it all! 

 

Let's start with 

Why...

Why do I phase into my flexible seating? Am I aware that there is guided exploration? Isn't it better to just start with it and have it all year? 

All of these are very valid questions, however it all comes down to what rules I have to follow and the parameters with which I must stay in.  My school is in a high-poverty area that continually has refugee families moving in along with families in crisis. With this being my "norm" I have to keep in mind that children and families going through all these transitions are experiencing many new things.  Light switches, automatic toilets , running water, computers, etc. can all be very overwhelming to someone going through this process. I have been asked to "phase" into my flexible seating mid year for two reasons. 

 Click upper left corner to pin!

Click upper left corner to pin!

1) By mid year we do not see as many refugee families due to many different reasons, but one being our winter weather. 

2) My class list no longer see's such a high turn over. Having a high turn over means that you will constantly be re-teaching expectations and how to use materials appropriately. 

Now let's move on to the next question... 

How...

This is where it get's fun! There are many different ways that you could phase into your flexible seating and it honestly comes down to what works best for you and your students. Keeping that in mind, I will explain how this works in my room. 

At the beginning of the school year I inform my students and their parents that our classroom will phase into flexible seating mid-year. This allows parents to ask questions face-to-face at back to school night and gives them time research or look into what flexible seating offers their students. By telling my students and parents at the beginning of the year allows me to pull out different seating options "for fun" or "as rewards" before December. It is always fun to give students a little taste of what is to come. 

Around Thanksgiving, I pull my class together to discuss progress that has been made and we begin the discussion of how our classroom will begin taking the steps to prepare for flexible seating. We talk about the options they will have, why we are going to do flexible seating and how it can be fun but, it is meant for them to grow as learners.  At this point in the conversation we take a moment to talk about the future, how someday they will have jobs doing whatever they dream of and how those jobs will have places that look different than our classroom. In this discussion we talk about how I, as their teacher, believe it is important for them to know how they work best.  This is where the conversation gets exciting because we begin to show office buildings, such as google, and their minds are blown! Adults using wiggle stools?! There is a slide?! You mean they can lay down and work?!

(Images found on google. Image of Google Offices, Hudl and Facebook)

Yes, yes my sweet kiddos, this is the goal. For you to walk out into the world and know that you can be productive while wiggling, fidgeting and laying. 

At this time in the year I discuss how in the next few weeks they will find a VIP table in our classroom. This table will have different seating options around it and I will rotate people through so everyone will have a chance to try out the new seats. The reason I start with a VIP table is because it allows me to slowly introduce seating options and control how many students are using that seating option at one time.  In this case, I typically have 4 to 6 students around the long table and I will bring out yoga balls first (since that is what I have the most of and it seems to be the one that is the hardest to figure out due to bouncing). 

Each seating option is brought out and explored as we get closer to Christmas /Winter break.

Once December hits, our flexible seating countdown begins. Now, I know this may go against the grain, but...in my classroom my students "earn" each flexible seating option. The reason we go through this "earning" process is because it helps keep them motivated through the weeks leading up to the Holiday season. (I could try to come up with some creative answer, but that is honestly why we use the word "earn")  

So far, this process has worked like a charm! The kiddos are excited to be working towards a flexible classroom, I am able to manage behaviors and my sanity and we all are excited and happy in the end! Now, we do not have ALL of our seating options launched before we get to break, but this works out perfectly because we are then able to continue with a consistent process as we return to our school routine. 

The truth is, I kind of love phasing into my flexible seating. It gives my class a goal, something to look forward to in the middle of the school year. It gives me time to build strong relationships with my students and work with them to find where they may be most successful. 

Check out the flexible seating options in my classroom! 

(Below you will find: Backpatter red chairs from Lakeshore, Yoga ball chairs from Amazon, Pedals from Donor's Choose, Hokki stools from Donor's choose and black "jellyfish"/safco zenergy ball chairs in black from Donor's Choose)

 

Now, it's your turn. Are you wanting to take the leap into flexible seating? Let me help! The image below is a direct link to a video walking you through the steps of preparing and executing flexible seating in your classroom. In this video I cover how I launch each seating option with visuals, how my students choose their seats without running or fighting and where you can find flexible seating options right now! What are you waiting for?!?! 

(click image below)

If you have any questions please do not be afraid to comment below! 

I hope you found this helpful!

Stay tuned for more of my brain vomit which is sure to be spilling out soon! 

Thanks for stoppin' by!

Take the Chance

For the past year, or so, I have been preaching that we all need to be stepping outside our comfort zones.

Many of asked "How?!" or have said "I just don't think I can do that."

 I think it is time that we get down to the nitty gritty of why it is so hard for us to open up and be vulnerable online.  What is it that keeps people from putting themselves out there? This is a question I have been asking myself a lot lately and I think I have it figured out.

 Hang with me now, the rest of this is solely my opinion and my reflection, so here we go..

 click upper left corner to pin

click upper left corner to pin

I believe that there are a lot of things that prevent people from stepping outside of their comfort zone, however, I think the biggest factor is fear.  Fear of of judgement from our peers and strangers. Fear of ridicule and snide comments that can knock us to our knees.

I wish I could tell you that there was nothing to be afraid of, but I can't. The truth is that by putting yourself out there you open yourself up to a world of judgement, ridicule and people looking to knock you down.  I can understand why some would be comfortable staying within their comfort zone. There are moments where I ask myself ...

"Is this worth it?"

I would by lying if I told you that what people said didn't hurt me, make me want to give up or simply want me to give them a piece of my mind.  I have experienced every emotion there is when it comes to me putting myself out there. Does it suck sometimes? YUP! Of course it does, I am human and people judging me or trying to tear me down is not something I can always turn a blind eye to.  

In a perfect world, we would all love and support each other. There would be rainbows, gumdrops, unicorns and fairy godmoters. We all know that that is not reality. Reality can be dirty, mean and can kick you down, but while you are down something magical happens. I have found that each time someone talks about me, tears me down, unfollows me or simply feels the need to send me a less than enjoyable email; I make growth.  Each time I am torn down I only become stronger.  

A year ago, I began a journey of live streaming video which was scary and exciting all at the same time. I launched my first shirt design and everything seemed to be hunky-dory. MAN, was I wrong... I was not prepared for the judgement, rumors, emails and straight up gossip that followed. It knocked me down...hard, but while I was down I found people that truly loved me for who I was. They loved me for being me! They loved me sitting on my bathroom floor ranting for two hours. They loved me for putting myself out there! This is when I realized that while being open and vulnerable is not always easy, it will always be worth it.  

So, my friend,  I must tell you that if you are afraid to put yourself out there, know that you are not alone I too am afraid a lot of the time. However, we are not going to make an impact or make connections by sitting back in the shadows because we have let our fear swallow our dreams. No, we are going to step out and put ourselves out there, because there are so many that may never overcome that fear. YOU can do this! There is a world out there full of connections, people and adventure! Why would you let fear keep you from that?!  

Forget the judgement, it will always be there. Screw the gossiping people, at least they are talking about you (insert valley girl "why you so obsessed with me?" look). Embrace who you are and share it with the world. 

You have nothing to lose when you are vulnerable, real and you. My friend, there are only amazing things for you to gain. So get out there! 

Class Dojo Tutorial!

Gearing up for the school year can be an exciting and stressful time! I don't know about you, but I am always looking for ways to spice up my classroom management. I found ClassDojo about 3 years ago and started using it in my classroom. When people started asking me what "I was doing to keep my students in line" I would send them this tutorial. ClassDojo quickly swept over my District and I was lucky enough to share my love of ClassDojo and present for my District. 

If you are curious or have always wanted to know how to set up ClassDojo here is my tutorial on how to set up your classroom!  If you have any questions after watching the tutorial please feel free to contact me or email me at meg@megscrayons.com and I would be more than happy to answer them the best I can! 

Enjoy! 

ClassDojoMeg'sEasytips

I hope you enjoyed your tutorial! 

Thanks for stoppin' by! 

Growth Mindset: Chapter 7

Hello! Welcome to my little corner of the web-o-sphere! I am very humbled to be a part of such an amazing book study this summer! i have learned so many amazing things that I can't wait to apply to my classroom in 3 short weeks! 

Today, I will be summarizing Chapter 7, sharing my insights and brain vomit with all of you on how we can make this work in our classrooms. 

 

Let's get started!

Looking at Chapter 7 we think about praise, constructive criticism, high standards and how this connects to motivation. When giving praise it is important to never include a child's personality traits or intelligence. When praise is focused on or includes references to a child's traits or intelligence in decreases a child's motivation and hinders performance. 

We need to focus on praising the process, not the product.

 

In the video below I will go into greater depth of examples of what praise should and shouldn't sound like, as well as give you the information of where to find an awesome freebie that can be used in your classroom this fall! 

I would love to hear your thoughts and takeaways from this chapter in the comments below! 

Don't forget to head to my TPT store to grab your goodies! 

Thanks for stoppin' by! 

Through the Eyes of the Innocent

As I was going through some of my old blog posts, I stumbled across this reflection piece and found it to still resonate deeply with me. With the school year coming to a close it is easy to get lost in the hustle and stress of it all. I always love finding small reminders like this that help me remember why I became and educator.  Enjoy! 

 

 

 

 

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” - Anon

This quote is my first week of school with Kindergartner's in a nut shell.  Yes, we have all heard the cute comments that children share with us about how think the world operates and their explanations of the unknown. And I'm sure we have all given the same look to that little genius....you know which one I'm talking about....One hand covers your heart, your head slightly tilts to one side and you just can't help but smile and lightly giggle at their "innocence" of the world around them and then we go and share it with other "adults" who will also find it utterly adorable ( and possibly make the same "oh...innocence" gesture).  I don't blame you....they are adorable and sometimes you just can't help but giggle at them, I do it all the time!  But this week my students so called "innocence" almost brought me to tears. Not tears of frustration, anger or stress...no these tears meant so much more.  These tears are the ones that you would feel flooding your eyes on your wedding day or on the day of your child's birth...they were heavy and meaningful. Let me start from the beginning....

If you did not already know, I have an inclusion classroom meaning that I have "Special Education" students in my classroom with the rest of my "average/normal" students. ( I do not like to call them inclusion students so from now on I will refer to them as "my girls" because they are two adorable girls).  I am ecstatic to have an inclusion classroom, but I did worry about how my other students were going to handle it.  I worried if they would make fun of them, if "my girls" would be included by other students and if any of my "average/normal" students would befriend my girls.  I usually am not a "softy", but my heart always goes out to those who struggle because I too have struggled and been made fun of by other kids ( my one soft spot...we all have to have one right?). We all remember when we saw people not being nice to the "slow kids" at recess, you may have actually been the person making fun of them, and the anxiety and humiliation that many of these children go through. With that in mind, I went in to this first week well prepared to have to defend and scold my students for making fun of others...I even had carefully mapped out what I would say to ensure the result of it never happening again. But...I didn't have to....instead I was abruptly slapped in the face by two of my students actions, both of them boys.  ( Since I cannot name their actual names I will call them "Ace" and "Chance"). Both Ace and Chance sit at a table with my girls, and have witnessed tantrums, button charts, being hit/kicked, and having their pencil boxes hijacked by my girls.  Now, many other boys at the age of Five or Six would respond with a squeal or simply hit back, but not Ace and Chance. I was amazed how these boys handled themselves at this chaotic table surrounded by Teachers assistants and noise.  My first tear-jerker was when one of my girls was having a rough day and had hit Chance multiple times....Chance looked at her and smiled and said"You are doing such a great job of sitting! I know you've had a hard day but if it makes you feel better you can hold my hand."  And quietly my one little girl smiled mid-tantrum and took Chances hand and began to sit quietly. I was shocked! First because the Teachers Assistant and I had been attempting to reason with this little girl for fifteen minutes while she yelled and stomped her feet, and here sits a five year old boy who offers understanding and the simple comfort of her being able to hold his hand. 

 

My heart melted and my eyes began to sting as the tears began to fill my eyes, Chance just taught me what I was doing wrong.  I wasn't listening to what she needed nor was I even beginning to understand what her day had been like.  I viewed her as a student with needs that was having issues with following directions and she needed to be "distracted" in order to sit quietly like the "normal" students.  When all that she needed was someone to tell her that they understood her!  So here I stand, watching children's so called "innocence" and "misunderstanding" take control of the situation. Later that day my other little girl was having issues sitting on the rainbow rug and keeping her hands and feet to herself.  She had stuck her tongue out multiple times and was refusing to participate in the upcoming station time.  Ace was in my girls station group of three, and as the Teacher Assistant tried to reason with my little one Ace quietly came over and crouched down in front of her and said "You're in my group! C'mon let's go color, it will be fun and I know your favorite colors are yellow and purple so I will let you have those!".  Again, my heart melted and my eyes began to sting with tears. Ace showed me exactly what I was doing wrong...I wasn't listening and again I was viewing her by her disability rather than just another student. I felt horrible! I felt like I was an awful teacher!  I went home and explained to my mother that I had done what I promised myself I would never do, and that was to look at a Student by their disability rather than just another student. She quickly reassured me that I was doing what any normal "adult" would do, and that is to do what you are told and what you are trained to do.  That's when I realized that this so called "innocence" that we all find so adorable was something that I no longer had.  I had been "taught" and "trained" and "told", I could not see the simplicity in my solution. Because I had been "taught" that children with "needs" have special ways of being handled, they need consistencyand are expected to behave like any other student in the classroom. But, I had forgotten what it is like to be a child to look at everyone as if they are the same as you....no labels, no disabilities, no social status....just another kid to play with or talk to.   


Where did my "innocence" go? When did it disappear?  Will I ever be able to get it back?!  
  Ace and Chance had taught me a simple life lesson that I wished I had never forgotten....
that everyone, no matter the difference, just wants to have a hand to hold when they are scared.  The tears that fell from my eyes on the car ride home were heavy with disappointment because I had forgotten, but also with hope for Chance and Ace in that maybe I could help them to never lose their "innocence".