Wait for it Wednesday ~ Class Birthday celebrations

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Welcome to another edition of :

So curious how you all celebrate birthdays at your sites...I love being friends with teachers all over the world and hearing how different things are done at different districts.  
So with that being said I want to share how my birthday celebrations have evolved over the years.
Back in the day - parents would bring in  cupcakes with mile high frosting and the kids would be on a sugar high for days hours that's why the smart teachers did the celebration 10 minutes before school got out. LOL
Then the healthy kids movement came through So. Cal and my district NO LONGER allowed sweets or home baked items.  So there were very limited items on the list that they could bring in ~ ~ which included skinny cows.  Let me tell you that's about all the parents bring in and it got old after a while. I wanted cookies or wine even.  KIDDING, kidding of course.
But seriously jump ahead a few more years and I started receiving longer allergy lists from the nurse and emails from parents about kids with special diets.  ( gluten free, dairy free etc. ) It became more of a 'chore' to celebrate a birthday: kids were feeling left out because they couldn't eat the skinny cow ice cream or had allergies, etc.   I found myself consoling first graders during what was suppose to be a fun celebration.  That started becoming not.so.fun!
SO ~ about 4 years ago I did away with birthdays well not really.  I told the parents at Back to School night that I loved birthdays and wanted to make their child feel extra special on those days but I no longer allowed food to be brought in.  The first time I did it I was soo nervous for Back to School Night.  I felt like a first year teacher.  My palms were sweating and I was like : they are going to eat me alive.  Do you know what...after I said it, I had about  two thirds of the parents clap.  NO JOKE!  They were smiling and clapping and I was so relieved!  However that left the other third...some had crossed arms, angry eyebrows, etc.  But the parents of kids with allergies or the super uber busy working parents ( from home or work ).  Let's be honest raising toddlers is a full time job right?!?!  They cheered, one mom told me afterwards that she was so happy because her child always felt left out due to her special diet and classroom birthday parties brought anxiety.  
I have since then stuck to it and each year I don't get any nasty emails or attitudes.  I provide their child with a fun crazy birthday straw which you can get { here }

They also receive a birthday pencil from the front office and a birthday shout out from the principal.  I also use to give them a fun seat pocket to hang on their chair but now with flexible seating I've replaced that with a special cushion they can use. 
Don't get me wrong:  I 'm a huge proponent of kids being kids and there are many times I think we push kids too hard.  I don't want them missing out on the 'fun' stuff of being a kid at all.  I just want every child to feel supported in my room and for me this works.  It eliminates sad kids and being worried if anyone is allergic to anything that might be brought.  All the while still making the  birthday child feel special!  How do you celebrate?

Also if you need a way to display student birthdays this is brand new in my store:  

You can grab it { here }


Flexible Seating ~ it's not for everyone

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

flexible seating in the primary classroom

Welcome to my  weekly:

It's back to school time & that means my Wait for it Wednesdays blog posts are BACK!!!!  I love the Back to School energy and meeting my new group as well as seeing my big kids that I've taught over the years.  It just makes my heart so happy!
This is my second year with a pirate theme and my first year trying out flexible seating!  
What exactly is flexible seating and what can a 21st century classroom look like?
Well think about how you best read/learn or study?  I know that my 2 teenagers ( that happen to be straight A students ) work best sitting on their bed or couch with a lap desk and a pillow.  I like to be propped up with a pillow behind me or in an over sized comfy chair.  Why not create a classroom with those options?  Flexible seating is an arrangement that a teacher creates to give his/her students freedom of choice for where they learn or work best.

My flexible seating includes:
* a standing table
* kneeling pads/pillows on a lowered table
* regular/ traditional seating
* gamer chairs
* arm pillow chairs
* stools

I will tell you my students LOVE flexible seating!!!  I am learning to love it.  Just keeping it real here...I am a 23 year veteran and I feel like a new teacher this year.  Many of my management 'tricks' from the past don't work in this new environment so I've had to be extra creative.
For instance:
Table Points ~ yeah ~ those don't work anymore unfortunately.  I love table points. :o(  My students don't sit at the same table/spot all day so table points won't work.  Also not all kids are sitting at tables.
Rules  ~ Some of my rules have had to change.  My students don't have desks anymore so there's a bit more movement than I'm use to...and that's okay.  It's just wrapping my brain around all the extra movement has been a little challenging.
Having no desks has been different for sure.  My students now have cubbies which is fine but they need to get UP to grab their math books or their journals throughout the day...in the past they have just pulled them out of their desks.
What I'm observing:   My students are engaged, moving freely in their space, taking ownership of their learning, having more freedom of choice during their day and collaborating more freely.
Raise your hand if you are a teeny, tiny bit controlling ~ if your hand wasn't raised I don't believe you. Teachers are by nature a little bit controlling to some degree right?!?  Well I've released some of the control and they have certainly gained some.  But, I'm realizing that with the freedom of choice some of my behaviors that I normally see popping up have tapered down a bit.  Maybe not having a teacher breathing down their neck  guiding them along is actually beneficial...they are taking ownership of their learning.  I've seen just in the last week kids get up and find a new learning space.  They thought something would work for them but realized 5 minutes in that it wasn't for them.  I LOVE this!  They are realizing at the age of 8 how they best learn.  How great is that?!?!

Here are some pictures of my classroom: 

pictures from my flexible seating classroom, lowered tables, standing tables, hooki stools and yoga balls.

flexible seating in the primary classroom

flexible seating ideas on design, ikea and furniture tips as well as management ideas

You can see a facebook live video of my classroom tour on my facebook page if you'd like a closer look:  https://www.facebook.com/teachingandmuchmoore/

Now ~ ~ ~ flexible seating is NOT for everyone!  I've read several posts that mention it's a fad or teachers are jumping on bandwagons.  That's fine, but I had to try it and I'm glad I did.  There needs to be a definite strong management style with this so kids are very CLEAR on your expectations but it can be done.  I will post another time on just how I do manage it but for now I wanted to leave you with some thoughts on the first few days and what I'm learning about it.  Who said teachers aren't always learners...I love that I'm learning and growing everyday with my awesome third graders!!