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Sunday, March 20, 2016

My new job

       I haven't had the energy or material to blog since I started my new job as a lead teacher in a Head Start classroom. The work is intense! With what little writing energy I have at the end of the day, I have been keeping a private diary about the work on Penzu. I wont be able to share most of it, but just this one time will share the entry I wrote this morning. I am keeping the journal mostly for myself - it is necessary to process each day in a reflective way and writing really helps with that, but I am also considering that it might make a good book some day that could help Head Start get the recognition and funding it needs.

        Looks like I wasn't able to write an entry here all week. I am not surprised as that was not an easy week. I'll recap what I can. Not sure how many times I was punched and kicked this week. Got stuck cleaning toilets and sweeping up mud for lack of a janitor. Not sure how many scheduled meetings were blown off by the other party (at least 3).
        Here's some of the good stuff: We were finishing up our Ezra Jack Keats author/illustrator study which was a phenomenal success. I have made a lot of progress in winning these kids over to book loving in a short time, though there is still a lot of work to be done. The collage study was not nearly as successful. I have never seen preschoolers as uninterested in messing around with creative materials as these. I am not sure why that is. One factor, I think, is the DP area which I have been giving a lot of thought to. It is very popular with this group, especially a handful of girls who play there during free choice period and rarely do anything else voluntarily. I don't think they are learning anything new there, just rehashing skills they have mastered. I want to take the whole thing down for awhile. Sounds simple I know. Of course I should be free to do that if I think it is in the best interest of my students. And at this point I'm sure it is. The adjoining block area is too small and I'd really like to expand it so that the learning there is expanded. But there are a lot of rigid rules governing these HS classrooms, and even though I was specifically hired to do some things differently, there is a lot of blow back when I do, and I haven't done anything big yet! They use the Creative Curriculum which requires a dramatic play area be present. These are the kinds of foolish requirements that hobble me.
     While the first round of parent conferences were not successful (clearly meeting with a teacher is not something these parents are excited to do which is a reflection of the poor self esteem they have about their parenting, another thing I'll be working on.) I did make some progress with parents this week in small interactions. And Wacky Hat day on Friday was a good, no-fail way to get some in-kind participation from several families.
     It also became clear to me this week, via a couple of migraine headaches, that I will have to be ridiculously firm about both parents and other HS staff members not bringing any chaos into the room. I will have to be almost militant about protecting the calm atmosphere I am working so hard to build from the crazy amount of disruption adults are bringing into the room. The parents at drop-off and pick-up, often with other children in tow, and other HS staff who think nothing of popping in and out of the room whenever they want which of course is a disruption, especially so for my vulnerable class, so easily distracted. I already instituted a no cell phone policy, now unfortunately I have to start policing the doorway. I hate doing that because none of these adults should have to be told to be respectful. For the four hours I have these kids the time and space within these four walls is going to be all about them and nothing else. Everything else can wait or happen out in the hall. Period.

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