Friday Love Notes

 

imgres-2

I went back to work the August after an unexpected medical leave in January 2016.

It’s been good to be back, even with the challenges of a larger group of students with varying levels of specific needs.

One of the things I love about teaching Kindergarten is that I can literally shape how a child views anything–even the most mundane task–just by my reaction or how I present it to them.  Work they need to do becomes “a project” or “a puzzle”. Assessments or small group work  becomes “working with Mrs. T” time –-and everyone LOVES one on one time with the teacher! Even a little post-it lunch box note from Mom turns into a glorious love note. The kids BEAM when I gush, “OH LOOK!!!! Mommy wrote you a LOVE NOTE!!” We read it together and the child toddles off with a smile on his or her face, so happy they got a love note from home.

images-1
google image

Sometimes, the children bring in pictures for me—beautiful Kindergarten drawings of us together, sometimes with a drawing of my faithful puppet Red Word Fred intermingled with the hearts and shapes and colors. This year, I’ve had a few of my scholars  say, “I made you a love note,” handing their treasure over to me when we collect the mail at the start of the day. I gush and preen over each note, thanking the child and putting it up on my bulletin board behind my table. My bulletin board is already filled with these notes, and I decided it was time to give back the love to my students.

This past Friday, I sent each of them home with a love note from me. Since we do mail in the morning, I had to remind them they couldn’t open it up now, or on the bus, or at the YMCA program after school. They had to wait until they got home to share it with their families.

Their reactions were priceless as they were handed folded notes. Some said thank you, some sat there in awe, looking at their name and heart drawn on the front, reminding me of Charlie Bucket when he found the Golden Ticket, and others were literally just beaming with joy and smiles. I had enclosed both a note and a dot-to-dot page. I’m not sure what will transpire as far as an extra little goodie inside each week—I haven’t planned that far ahead– but my goal is to give them each a love note every Friday morning to read at home.fullsizerender

I hope the love gets passed around this year between home and school!

How do you show your love?imgres

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

Advertisements

Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics

20160830_074822_resized

I officially went back to work on Thursday, August 25, 2016.

It was my first day of school since leaving on January 15, 2016.

And it was great.

It was like I never even left, outside of all the hugs and well wishes and “So glad to see your smiling face!” greetings. Even sweeter was a post it note from my new principal that he left in my classroom the night before, saying how welcoming everything looked and how happy he’s glad I’m able to return.

Prior to our “official” start date, I participated in the Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics.  Usually, it can be a five-day or longer event .  This year, due to scheduling issues, it was a 3 day affair with multiple-tiered activities.

I engaged in all sorts of games that had been previously set up by the individuals in my room, both adults and children,  while I was out on sick leave. And let me tell you, they did a wonderful job of challenging me! I tried my best to complete each game to the best of my ability. Some of them were more challenging than others, but all in all, I think I represented my Kindergarten colleagues quite well!

What’s In The Cabinet?” was great fun as I discovered all sorts of materials and paperwork out-of-place. Some cabinets I just opened and then quickly shut, while others I cleaned and organized without much fanfare. This multi-tiered event didn’t put me in the running for the gold or even bronze medal,  but my efforts were rewarded with several empty cabinets. I still have several that need to be tackled, but that is for another day.20160830_074637_resized

Container Crash” was not an event I wanted to participate in due to the time constraints I was under,  but it was necessary to complete.  For about an hour, I sorted through the 16 years worth of containers that I have–baskets, boxes, and lids of all sorts of sizes and colors. Some matched, while others remained lonely.  I managed to give away a few of them to some of my co-workers, but I still have a huge store of containers stacked in boxes over the cubbies.  If you need any containers or lids, either matching ones or replacement parts, let me know. I’ll give them to you for FREE! (That is certainly worth a silver medal, right?)

20160830_074800_resizedBook Jam I” was a difficult event.  My trade books were not in any particular order, and I was unable to properly organize them to my satisfaction in the allotted time.   I did ok with the “Book Jam II“, sorting Reading Workshop books into the correct bins and finding my personal collection of board books that I like to use to start out the year with. But the BEST part of “Book Jam II” was when I masterfully placed my outward-facing bookshelves so I actually have TWO book corners this year for my little Kindergarten scholars! I think that event was purposefully scheduled to try to trick me into getting rid of Kindergarten furniture. I get a double gold medal for that one!20160830_074840_resized

Where Are The Spacemen?”  is still alluding me. During writing, we use these adorable spacemen clothespins created by Really Good Stuff for teaching about putting spaces between words.  I can’t find any of them!  They may have gone into Mr. Pail at the end of the year, or they may still be playing “What’s In The Cabinet?” Another level to this game is “Where Is The Smartboard Pen?” I had two pens, and one is missing.  Clearly, no medal for  me for this event.

At the start of “Kindergarten Kitchen Nightmare“, pocket books were filled with toy food, little scratch pads had one scribble on a page, dishes were mixed in with clothing, and the babies had bed head and were all naked.  I had to get everything back in its correct, loving place. By the time I was done, the table was set with a tablecloth and napkins I made over the summer, the babies were all clothed and in bed with little handmade blankets, and the food and dishes were put away in the correct spots.  Another gold medal for me! Sorry, no picture proof of this, but I can honestly say, the kitchen looked wonderful by the time I was done!

Sharpen The 1,000 Pencils” was another non-medal event, sadly.  My TWO electric pencil sharpeners are busted, so I’ll be purchasing one over the weekend. Guess I’ll be participating in that one on Monday morning!

And “What Did I Order?” is a game also still  in progress. I purchased glue sticks prior to the start of the Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics while back to school shopping. Lo and behold on Friday, I received two boxes of glue sticks that  I guess I ordered since my name was on them! Ah well…better extra glue than no glue!

Class List Confusion”  is always a challenging event for even the most seasoned teacher.  A new student was added to my class list and I wasn’t aware of this change when the children visited on Thursday, the 25th.  I had to make her crayon cup with her instead of it already set for her at her seat.  But on Friday, I made sure to make the labels for seat and cubby, so she will be all set for the first day of school the following week.

Paperwork Paparazzi” started out as a challenge, but ended up being a silver medal event for me.  Another side-event of “What’s in the Cabinet?”, I found student work and assessments from last year in two separate locations that needed to be sorted, organized, and distributed to the first grade teachers.  I also located behavior charts for students, parent information, and other miscellaneous paperwork that just didn’t find its way into Mr. Pail at the end of the school year last year.  About an hour and half later, all the pertinent paperwork was correctly organized and given to the proper people.

 

Bulletin Board Brilliance” was a gold medal winner for me, for sure!  Not only was the bulletin board I made adorable, it is highly effective in terms of student work placement. I made little cupcakes from bulletin boarders and tissue paper. The flame above lists my scholars’ birthdays. Underneath each one, there is a clothes pin hanging by a tack. Putting up and taking down student work is a snap!  An added bonus: I’ll be putting their photos underneath by the 2nd week of school, so everyone who visits will quickly know which happy little cupcake belongs to which scholar.14054047_10207200523746791_8415621747711157217_n

The best game, though was “Toss It!” I KNOW I won the gold medal on this game!  I had THE biggest pile of boxes, trash, a rug, broken containers, and other unusable items stacked up in three towers of trash. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of my award-winning dump pile! (You can see a bit of the pile creeping out of the hallway in this photo.)

All in all, I think I fared pretty well in this year’s Olympics.

Now, let the learning games begin!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

5 “Needs” To Be Ready For Kindergarten

imgres-2
Google clip art

Welcome to Kindergarten, my new friends!

Here are 5 things you need to be ready for Kindergarten!

BRING A BACKPACK that you can carry that has your name on it.

 

imgres-1
Google clip art

 

BRING ONE lunch box with your name on it to hold both your snack and lunch. More than one lunch box makes it hard for four and five year olds to figure out what to eat when. Also: be sure your child can open any food containers you send without assistance. If they can’t do it on their own, then it should not be sent to school. NO peanut/nut products or candy at school, please.

WEAR sturdy shoes and play clothes! Shoes should be close-toed for safety on the playground. NO LIGHT UP SHOES, JEWELRY, TOYS, OR TRINKETS, PLEASE.

 

images
Google clip art

 

BRING EXTRA CLOTHES TO KEEP AT SCHOOL. We get messy, have accidents, or get wet at the fountain. We want to avoid calls home for replacement clothes, so please send in clothes to keep at school. Please include an extra plastic bag to send soiled clothes home in and supply replacement clothes should the bag come home.

 

BE WELL-RESTED AND EAT BREAKFAST BEFORE SCHOOL EVERY DAY! Four and five year olds need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night! We are busy learning from day 1, so it is very important to get to sleep early, eat a good breakfast, and be on time for school.

 

I can’t wait to see you on the first day of school!

Dear Governor Malloy

I wrote this letter back in 2014, and with a new school year approaching, I felt the urge to post it here on my blog.  To all parents: we teachers support your children’s learning every day, even in the face of mandates that seem out of reach. And to all teachers: I salute you in the job that you do every day, in the face of seen and unseen hardships.

I wish every one a safe, fun, and positive school year!

johnson-celebration-of-learning-Thinkstock
google images

March 8, 2014

Governor Dannel Malloy

State Capitol

210 Capitol Avenue

Hartford CT 06106

Dear Governor Malloy:

I could never be a true leader. True leaders have a very difficult job—balancing the needs of the masses while holding onto your own ideals and values. Listening to every side to make informed decisions that will propel people forward to greatness. Anticipating problems before they occur, so that final decisions don’t cause larger problems. And all the while addressing current issues with the understanding that future ones will undoubtedly occur and shift any number of outcomes.

I say I could never be a true leader, but in a sense, I guess I am. I am a teacher. I have been a Kindergarten teacher for 15 years now; over the years, I have learned the value of listening to the other side while using what I know as a teacher to bring out the best in my students and families. I try to engage my four, five, and six year old students as best I can, taking into account their needs and experiences while implementing state and national mandates that come from non-educators, which now tell me what I must do to be a “highly effective” teacher.  I follow these mandates, while sometimes negating my own personal beliefs, values, and expertise on child development, because I enjoy these children. Sadly, if I want to keep my job, I must follow these mandates even when I can see daily in my classroom that they clearly do not represent the best learning for how a four, five or six year old mind works, feels, or explores their world.

No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and now Common Core, all ideally look wonderful on paper, but when you are a classroom teacher and must implement them, these mandates do not take into account a student’s educational background, a school system’s economic difficulties, family dynamics, or past and future developmental milestones, which all clearly impact how and when a student learns best. I feel these initiatives at heart, may seem very logical, but in practice, are very foolhardy and do not adequately allow teachers to do their jobs using the years of expertise, knowledge, and maturity that they so readily and want to use on daily basis, but are hindered by laws like Common Core.

I would venture to guess that a child born in 1947 is not that biologically different than one that was born in 1970, or even 2014.  Every infant, toddler, preschooler and Kindergartener still needs to pass through specific social, emotional, and physical developmental milestones in order for him/her to be able to access academics in a meaningful and appropriate way. When we try to speed up this natural process by teaching abstract topics like sight words or metacognitive skills, the end goal of engaged, inquisitive students doesn’t justify the means, and we are only asking for more frustrated teachers, students, and parents. I feel like these initiatives are akin to giving a 13-year-old child a set of car keys and saying, “Go drive on I-95 and then switch to I-91 in Hartford”. Any rational parent would never do such a thing, realizing that the outcome will be deadly. The child has certainly may have had a good deal experience in a car, but experience as a passenger is very different than experience behind the wheel, when coupled with maturity and solid age-appropriate teaching.

But my words are probably not what you want to hear. Let me share what one of my Kindergarteners wrote to illustrate my point. We use a Writer’s Workshop model, which teaches the fundamentals of writing—spaces, punctuation, capitalization, and formats of writing, within a child’s developmental level. Appropriate trade book texts are used as models for the students, and they truly enjoy writing because of the format and model of instruction.

Our past unit was about “How To” writing. I modeled “How To Be A Kindergartener”—use listening ears, use kind words, do your best, and clean up.

One of my students also decided to write on the same topic, but his slant was very different:

Step 1: Work! Work! Work! Work

Step 2. Learn! Learn! Learn! And Learn!

Step 3: Write! Write! Write! And Write!

Step 4: Don’t make silly faces.

I have enclosed a color copy for your review, and on the surface, this is a fabulous piece. He included all the facets of a how to piece, his illustrations were perfectly aligned with his text, and he used the conventions of writing that have been vigorously taught: capital letters, spaces, sight words, and punctuation marks. And yet, its underlying message is also very sad. The fun has been taken out of Kindergarten—highlighted by all four lines of his text. And step four says it all: no silliness for five year olds is allowed in school.

Kindergarten used to be just that: a garden for young children to grow and blossom. In the past, children learned how to socialize, solve problems, and respect both teachers and peers. Now, we are so focused on teaching academics, –racing to the top at the cost of the students’ emotional and social growth– that these natural developmental stages are being pushed further and further away from core curriculum. And the trickle up effect of all of this is that EVERY GRADE is not an appropriate grade level. Students from Kindergarten up to 12th grade are now expected to work well out of their grade level just to be “on grade level”.

In the future, I am sure we will see many more elementary children, teens and adults with social problems, anxiety, and increased stress levels because we as a educational society are not adequately addressing their needs at the right time in their education. Instead, we are force-feeding academics at the expense of their social and emotional well-being.

Please keep this student in mind the next time you meet to discuss education reform. He is one of many who are feeling the negative effects of the current legislation, but thankfully he will only be a Kindergarten student once in his lifetime.

Joanna Teodosio

Orange Avenue School

260 Orange Avenue

Milford, CT 06460

Deadly Venom or Saving Grace- Is Bee Venom Therapy the Answer to Lyme Prayers?

 

20160714_131829I worked for kids. I was a vibrant Kindergarten teacher for 16 years. I loved creating my own puppets and lessons, and I had a loyal following every year! My students and colleagues loved a puppet that I created out of a wooden fork from the dollar store. I used him daily to teach sight words, and on Fridays, I’d invite the whole Kindergarten and special education classes to my classroom for a “show”. It was funny and silly and sometimes off the cuff, but none-the-less, it was a great way for my little scholars to learn abstract words like ‘here’ and ‘will’. They loved these lessons, and I would try to improve on my lessons each week with various props, songs, and little stickers to give to the children. Even the adults would get into the act. One of the paraprofessionals gave me different seasonal-themed bow ties to put on my puppet friend, which I still have and use each year. My principal wanted to create a theme song for him. And I loved every minute of it.

Now, I work for Lyme. I took a leave of absence from my teaching job this past January, becoming my own Lyme doctor, working towards better health. I read books and articles written about Lyme by doctors, researchers, and victims. I search blogs and websites, trying to find any new information that can assist me. I cross-check any healing therapy that seems to be too easy or too good to be true with a friend who has been a Lyme warrior for many, many years. I create my own recipes because my system is so fragile and can’t digest even the smallest amount of carbohydrates without feeling like I’ve gotten stung by bees. I limit going out to eat since I don’t have access to the foods I can eat or the 40 oz. or more of liquid I need to drink. I record and track my food, water and supplement intake each day, as well as check my blood sugar to ward off diabetes. I listen to advice from all sorts of people who are either suffering themselves or know of Lyme victims and have information to share.

20160701_212836

I have numerous appointments with my primary doctor, naturopaths, and up until recently, my dietician. I am always on the look out for other avenues to help me, obscure or ‘out there’ as they may be. Lyme is a smart body terrorist, so I need to be smarter to beat it. It morphs and changes and knows when you are on antibiotics, hiding in your joints and muscles, waiting for you to show your weakness so it can attack with pain, fatigue, and loss of concentration and focus. It causes multiple levels of damage to your body and brain. Everyone’s chemistry is different, so everyone’s reaction to Lyme also differs. I have to work to be sure that I keep my stamina up and reactions under control while fighting Lyme every day.

20160606_111639_resizedI write about my experiences as a therapy but also as a way to help others. I ‘post’ and ‘follow’ on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress. I seek out ways to help the Lyme community by sharing my own experiences to educate and inform those who are misinformed, misdiagnosed, or both.

Working for Lyme has led me down very different paths to wellness. My most recent experience has informed me about Ellie Lobel and Bee Venom therapy (BVT), which is pretty ironic, considering that is how I describe how I feel when anyone asks what my inflammation feels like! She was a scientist before being bit by a tick when she was 27. A chronic Lyme sufferer for 15 years, she was in complete organ failure and was on the road to her death. She had moved out to California, and had unexpectedly been stung repeatedly by a swarm of bees, which turned her whole immune system around. You can read more about her story here:

http://mosaicscience.com/story/how-bee-sting-saved-my-life-poison-medicine

She now travels around the country, educating people on using bee venom from live bees to combat Lyme disease.

This seems like a ‘too good to be true’ type of solution, and yet, if it worked for Ellie after 15 years of living with the ravages of Lyme disease, could it work for me? And what would my results be after having only been dealing with Lyme for almost a year versus her 15 years? Would my results be quicker, or would I have an adverse reaction to the venom?

According to Ellie, you need to start a detox process prior to starting actual stinging, which outlines on her Facebook page. Additionally, you need to have an EPI pen and Benadryl available at each stinging session, just in case. Her method is very controlled and specific, which is in an effort to both kill the Lyme as well as limit the herxing reaction that will come afterwards as the venom works its way into your system. If you are unsure how you will react to the bee stings, you do a test sting first. After the initial test sting, you add one more, and then you increase the stinging by two’s, slowly adding two additional bee stings over time, so you are up to ten stings in one sitting. OUCH! Depending on your herx, you may stay at only two stings for several weeks. You only add more stings as you feel you are ready. And you continue to use your detox protocol in addition to the stinging routine. Since this is a controlled method for killing bacteria, you sting 3x a week, which allows you the weekend to also detox and recoup. Stinging is also very specific on your body: one inch on each side of your spinal column, spaced out up and down, to allow the venom to travel through the nerves to your extremities.

Many people across the country and the globe have experienced success with BVT for centuries, and for a variety of illnesses. And yet, I am torn with trying this method, because I know that with every plus, there is a minus. On the one wing, if I can contract an illness by an insect, why can’t I utilize another insect’s natural body chemistry to combat it? Makes sense, right? But then I on the other wing: what if BVT doesn’t work for me? I want to know about any anomalies in BVT and Lyme disease before I get involved with the whole process. With my luck, I’d be the one person who doesn’t take well to BVT and have an adverse reaction that won’t let me live to tell about it.

I am still working for Lyme, and I have found that my work with my diet and whole food supplements have started to change my immune system. I have more energy, my brain fog is slowly lifting, and my nails are no longer thin and brittle. Perhaps a little more work with the bee venom will set my immune system completely straight. Or perhaps it’ll set me back another six months! I still want to research it a bit more before I buzz into the BVT hive.

Have you utilized BVT to treat a chronic illness? What have you experienced?

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL