Wednesday, March 9, 2011

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes...

Last week was Dr. Seuss' Birthday. In Elementary School they might as well make it a National holiday. We didn't only celebrate on Wednesday, his actual birthday. Oh no. It was Dr. Seuss WEEK at the school. Yes. You heard me. All week long we celebrated this legendary children's book author and illustrator. I believe he deserves a week devoted to him. Dr. Seuss has always been one of my favorites. With his silly rhymes and fantasized characters, he knows how to draw children in with awe and amazement at his whacky stories.

Every day was a different dress up day. The dress up days were coordinated with the book of the day which we read aloud during Reading time.

Monday: Go Green Day (Green Eggs & Ham)
Tuesday: Silly Sock Day (Fox in Socks)
Wednesday: Wacky Wednesday (Wacky Wednesday)
Thursday: Pajama Day  (I Am Not Going To Get Up Today)
Friday: Hat Day (Cat In The Hat)

On Monday they served up green eggs and ham in the cafeteria. Luckily, I was at Interview day and missed this [not so] appetizing dish being served. Thursday was by far the best day. Whenever you get to wear pajamas to school, you are guaranteed to have a great day. I had never read I Am Not Going To Get Up Today, but coming from someone who loves to sleep in...I am now a big fan of this book.

Speaking of being a fan...that brings me to my next fun activity of the week. An activity that evoked loud squeals and googly eyes from the girls and exasperated sighs and rolling eyes from the boys. Two words: Bieber Fever. Yes, Justin Bieber. The most current child/tween heartthrob that has captured young girls (and some boys...) everywhere. The Jonas Brothers are so yesterday. Biebs is an absolute stud and something about his sweet smile, his silky blonde hair swoop, and his smooth voice are sure to make any young girl swoon. Now I know you're wondering what in the world this has to do with Dr. Seuss week. Some genius (no sarcasm, seriously) came up with the idea to have this kid celebrity do a read aloud of Cat In The Hat. No big deal, right? Wrong. They recorded it, threw in a green screen for some special effects, and made sure he smiled and flipped his hair...a lot. The minute I put this video on, they were mesmerized. For 10 minutes my students were absolutely enthralled in the story...and in Justin Bieber. But hey, whatever works right? I'm thinking Bieber should start recording math and reading lessons and post them on YouTube. Imagine the classroom management and behavior problems that might fix. I give to you...Justin Bieber reading Cat In The Hat. 

On Friday I ended up bringing in some Dr. Seuss books I had at home. My sweet grandmother has started sending me children's books in the mail. I can remember her taking us to Books-A-Million when we were younger and I know how much she loves books. It warms my heart to think loves going to the children's section and browsing for books for me to use in my classroom. I always tell my students about her when I read a book she has given me and I feel like she's a part of our read aloud. She has sent me several Dr. Seuss books. I chose one of my favorites to read, Oh The Places You'll Go. I hadn't read it in a while and after reading it aloud I felt absolutely inspired and filled with happiness. That's what I love about these books. They all have a hidden message, which is why Seuss' books are timeless and so inspiring. Wether or not the children understand, hopefully someday they'll pick Horton Hears a Who back up and come to see a new story when they read it. Maybe that's exactly what Dr. Seuss intended. Smart man, that Seuss. Go to the library and check out some Seuss books. You're not too old. Or if you'd rather...just let Biebs read to you.

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go.
Kid, you'll move mountains! your names Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O'Shea, 
You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

Oh The Places You'll Go
By Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tell Me How You Really Feel

It is a rare occasion that I can pick out an outfit in the morning with ease and no hesitation. I'd say almost every morning I pull out 2 or 3 tops, a few pairs of pants, and maybe a dress or two. This isn't just due to my indecisive nature; although that is probably the main contributor to my lengthy preparation time in the morning. Ever since I started my internship, I've had to adjust not only to the 5:15 A.M. wakeup call, but also the daily business casual dress attire. Oh but on Fridays we get to wear jeans. Just one more reason to celebrate TGIF.  I'm guilty of being one of those Nike Shorts, big T-shirt, Chaco wearing college girls. Please don't judge me for it. I'd say having to get up and actually make myself look somewhat presentable was one of the biggest adjustments to this semester. Sad, I know.

Now when I say that my indecisiveness is not the only reason for my outfit selection in the morning; it is because I am greeted by 15 of my biggest critics when I enter the classroom. Who knew that 7 and 8 year olds could be so observant, and even moreso...extremely honest? I learned this the hard way during my Spring semester practicum of my junior year. I got a really bad stye infection in my eye one weekend that gave me one swollen shut eye and a "no makeup" rule. The doctor gave strict orders: "Take this medicine, throw away all of your makeup, and you can't wear makeup for at least one week". I was actually thrilled about this. That definitely gave me a little extra time to sleep in the mornings. I didn't think it would be a big deal or even that big of a difference...that is until I walked into Kindergarten Monday morning. After receiving consistent stares, one brave little boy spoke up. I won't defend him or make his approach sound sweet. Oh no. He walked in, and with a dumbfounded look on his face and a raised eyebrow, boldly exclaimed "Ms. Kinney, what happened to your face? How come you look so different today? You look weird." Okay I really don't wear that much makeup that it would cause a noticeable difference, but apparently the au naturale look was shocking to them. These were the same kids that asked me how I turned my skin black when I got back from Spring Break. One little girl asked if I had dyed my skin.

I thought jumping up to 2nd grade might put a cap on the filter that the younger ones otherwise lacked. I thought wrong. That filter is still very much nonexistent. Now I will give them a little credit. Most of their comments are usually somewhat positive...or at least that is their intention. Let me explain.

Boy: "I like your shirt, but shouldn't you be wearing pants?"
Me: "It's not a shirt. It's called a Polo dress. It just looks like a long shirt"
Boy: "That's not a dress. It's a shirt. Is that an XXL shirt or did you get it from your boyfriend's closet?"

"Ms. McKinney, your shirt is beautiful. My mom got that for her birthday, but took it back to the store because she said it was ugly. But it's beautiful on you!"

"Ms. McKinney, I like your watch. You must have gotten it in the K-Mart dollar section."

"You look really pretty in this picture. You don't look like that anymore."

"Your eyelashes looks pretty. I bet they're fake aren't they?"

And my all time FAVORITE happened just last week. Let me set it up for you. I was walking around the room grading papers and one of my boys asked me if I could wear what I wore to school my first day again. There was no way he remembered my outfit from my first day. Wrong. After asking him to please tell me about this outfit because even I couldn't remember; he described in detail my first day attire. From boot detail and sweater pattern, to hairdo; he nailed it on the head. This conversation was overheard by a girl nearby. I was wearing my hair pulled back in a low ponytail that day. This particular girl told me she liked my hair better when I wore it down or with a headband. She asked if I would honor her request as well as the boy's and wear my hair down for her. It gets better. A sweet, quiet, somewhat awkward little boy calls me to his desk....

"Ms. McKinney, I'd just like to tell you something. Well I...I...I just think you would be a little bit more beautiful if you would wear your hair down and wet and slick to your face. Just a little bit more beautiful."

Thank you sweet angel for your well intended advice, but I think if I also honored your request, you might quickly rebuke your statement.

Thanks to my classroom experiences, my skin has thickened. I have learned to not take anything personally; not by children at least. If you need an honest opinion, hit up your local elementary school and ask the kiddos how they really feel. They will most likely tell you the truth, and maybe even make some suggestions that will get you one step closer to being "a little bit more beautiful".