Saturday, September 5, 2015

What Did We Do at School Today?

Often, parents want to know what their child did at school everyday.

This is completely, 100% understandable, and it is their right to know. It is their baby who they are graciously sending off to school every morning. They have a lot of hopes and dreams for their child. They have a lot of wonderings and questions about their child. Will my child make friends? Will my child be kind? Will my child learn new things?

It is so difficult, however, to answer the question, "What did my child do at school today?" because, if I answer you honestly, this is what it would look like.

It wouldn't look like a seamless, followed-to-the-exact-minute schedule.

It wouldn't look like your child sitting at a desk all day long, doing long calculations, reading a textbook, working in a workbook, or doing lots of worksheets.

It wouldn't look like a perfectly silent and quiet classroom, with all 19 children obeying and following and listening to every direction.

It looks like this...

Today, I greeted each of your children at the door as they entered and got ready for their day. I want them to know that I see them, that I know they are there, and that their presence at school today is celebrated.

Today, I led your children in exercises of independence and organization. I taught them how to unpack their backpacks everyday, put their take-home folders in the right basket, get their iPad ready for the day, and get started on their morning work. You see, we are working on doing things by ourselves, instead of having others do them for us. We also practiced how to gather all of our needed materials for math class by ourselves, which starts right after announcements are over.

But, after announcements were over, I led your children in understanding the "why" behind saying the US and Texas pledges, as well as why we observe a moment of silence. Lots of them were still trying to sit down or continue to work during these things, or talking or making noises during the moment of silence to be funny. We discussed the importance of respecting our state, country, and fallen soldiers who have fought to protect our freedoms. We discussed the freedom of getting to go to school, to learn, to worship the way we want, to dress the way we do, to marry the person we want. We practiced doing the pledge and moment of silence after these discussions, and your children showed ample respect.

Today, we had math class. During math, we talked about what good mathematicians do. We learned the value in double checking our work. We learned how to organize our thinking about numbers and place value. We learned how to take our time to do a good job. We learned how to download an app and how to use it the right way. We used the app to show the place value of numbers up to 120 and beyond, because I let your children pick their own number and show me all that they could do. Then, we worked on your child's individual math goal that they had set at the beginning of the year. I pulled each child one at a time to work with them individually on their specific goal. I taught one-on-one lessons about multiplication, division, and triple digit subtraction with borrowing-- because those were your children's goals, and I'm not going to stop them from going beyond the curriculum if they can. While they weren't with me, they were doing challenging problem solving questions or logic puzzles in groups. When math was over, I could barely break them away from their focus. They were so into their learning.

Today, we had snack time, because your children get hungry mid morning and I want to listen to that. Their basic needs must be met before learning can happen, so I let them have a snack.

Today, our class circled up and I told them good morning by name and that I was glad they were here today. We talked about how we are feeling today, because sometimes children can carry in hurt or pain or confusion or anger to the classroom, and this is a time to check in and help them overcome those things.

We talked about who we become when we enter this classroom, and who we want to be. Among the answers from your children were: thinkers, dreamers, learners, writers, authors, scientists, friends, artists, readers, loved, and important. I never want them to forget the possibilities within.

We talked about our favorite parts of the week, and reflected as a group on the wonderful things we had done together in class. We laughed together, practiced listening skills and how to make eye contact with others, how to wait our turn when someone else is talking, how to respond to someone's story or thought, and how to show respect in a group and value everyone's voice.

Today, we did a brief but fun calendar time. I asked your children questions like "what number month of the year is the month of June/September/December" or "what would the code date be 6 days from today?" because I know that your children already know the months of the year or how to write today's code date, so I added some depth to it.

Today, we talked about character, how to start a chain reaction of kindness, and read the book "Each Kindness" together, which is about a little girl who lost her chance to show kindness to another child, and it was too late. We talked about being brave and showing courage by being kind. We made text-to-self connections to our own life as we read, and commented on how parts of the book reminded us of things in our own lives. We deeply felt the sorrow at the end of the book. You could've heard a pin drop as I closed the book. I nearly cried after reading the last page. We shared that moment together and understood the depth and importance of being kind to others.

Today, we each made an artistic expression of the word "BRAVE" and decided how we would have courage and be kind this year. We wrote our response on our "BRAVE" posters and used our creativity and art skills to construct a masterpiece. We talked about being brave in making new friends, or standing up to others who are bullying or being unkind. We discussed intellectual courage and being brave with our ideas and our thinking, how to push our brains in new ways this year that we haven't pushed them before. This is so important for us to discuss, because this year will be hard. This year, your child won't coast by. They will have their thinking challenged by other classmates. They will have to grow in strength and reasoning in their intellect.

Today, I held 3 separate children while they cried.
Today, I rubbed a child's back while gently redirecting him to make a better choice.
Today, I put a bandaid on a child's scrape, wrote 3 nurse passes for ice packs or sore throats, and felt 2 foreheads for warmth.
Today, I walked around the playground and located every one of my children, and made sure that they had someone to play with. I helped connect them with other children if they didn't, and helped them practice social skills in joining in play or requesting to play, or inviting others to play.
Today, I gave countless hugs.
Today, I calmed a child down while they had a panic attack in the corner.
Today, I walked many children through the lunch line and made sure that they had a balanced meal and encouraged them to get fruits and vegetables, and not just sweets and snacks.
Today, I noticed lots of good choices made by your child, and had them mark down those good choices and reflect on them.
Today, I helped sprinkle a whole lot of glitter on your child's artwork, lovingly and carefully trying to stick to the design they wanted.
Today, I taught your children how to clean up after themselves and take care of their classroom.
Today, I lined your children up at the end of the day and told them how much I loved them, thanked them for a fabulous day of learning, and told them how much I would miss them over the weekend.
Today, I listened to your child groan because they wouldn't get to go to school for the next three days. I listened as your child told me they would miss me and school and their friends. I hugged and high-fived your child as they walked out the door.
Today, I made sure your child got home safely and got to where they needed to be.
Today, I hung up your child's Brave poster and marveled at their words. I thanked God for each one of them. I prayed for a year of growth and learning.

The past couple of weeks, we have explored the science lab and tools a scientist uses; we have built stamina in reading independently; we have read aloud many beloved books and creative chapter books, and shared rich moments diving into literature; we have focused on building our classroom community and seeing how we are all connected to one another; we have talked about the importance of rules and their purpose, and debated over whether rules should ever be broken; we have slowly started to set up our iPads, learned how to download our own apps, are still learning how to use an app independently, and are still trying to type in our own passwords correctly. We are learning how to brainstorm and think creatively and see things in more than one way. We are learning how to not get stuck as a writer, and discussing ideas of what to write about. We are sharing our passions and interests and starting to research the things we love most.

We have done so many things over the past two weeks since school began.

So, when you ask your child or me what we did at school today, it is a really loaded question. That is why sometimes your child gives you a brief and non-informative answer. That is why my weekly newsletter recapping the week and discussing what learning is to come next week leaves you with lingering questions. Because what we do, everyday, is so much more than a blurb about an objective; it is so much more than what a picture can capture.

And I can't wait to see what the many days to come will hold.


  1. You are amazing! We are lucky to have you on our team, as are all of the students to have you as their teacher!

  2. We are so thankful that you are Lily's teacher!!!!

  3. I love learning from you! Great post! :)