Archive for the ‘Fun Stuff from my Classroom’ Category

July 6 Continuing Down Memory Lane

Mrs. Heath, Ritchie, and my mother,Glendora Oldham, having a teacher/student conference, 1958

             First Grade —- hmmm!  Today I am a first grade teacher and have taught kindergarteners and first graders since 1974.  I find humor in many of their antics, frustration in some misbehaviors, and anxiety in their lack of grasping new concepts…until I remember me as a first grader.  Suddenly, my students seem to become normal and almost above average as I recall my own experiences.  I share these experiences with them on occasion, and they seem to take heart that they too, will be okay. 
                There was the day Mrs. Heath warned me that I should not bring my toy rifle back to school….but I did!  She kept it in a locker ALL year before returning it to me at the summer break!  Daily, or so it seemed, she took my tiny plastic matchbox-size-cars and placed them in her desk drawer.  As far as I know, they may still be there.  The notes she wrote home with RED pencil…I placed in the swift-flowing current in the creek just below the school playground so Mother would never see them.  (I checked the other day as I drove past that creek to see if it was still running – but it was barely a trickle – probably too many of my papers dammed it up)  And reading circle – what an impossible task to sit still in those hard wooden chairs.  I remember my legs and hands getting stuck in the rungs as I twisted and turned in various positions to ward off boredom…(okay, so it took all summer in summer reading program for me to learn to read!).  I remember when “Chuck” said something about a worm, and I said, “yick”.  This was after Mrs. Heath had said “Not one more word!”  Somehow, I never really thought I deserved that paddling for saying, “yick”, but it WAS one more word!  And both my boyfriends; Roy Wright and Charles Otto, turned down my marriage proposals – said they were too young. I loved Roy because his name was so close to Roy Rogers, and Charles, because his dad was a veterinarian who took care of the small birds I found when they had a broken wing. 
                I share these memories because I know that there are days I may seem unfair to my own students, perhaps they have had too many “red” marks on their papers, or they are just having a rough day learning something.  I look into their faces and I remember being their ages.  I remember school was hard for me, and that I wanted to “be good” but just had a hard time following through.  Perhaps the most significant thing I remember about being in first grade is that it was then, at the age of seven, I realized that God loved me so much that He sent Jesus to pay for my sin, and that His love was so great for me, He would have done it even if I was the only sinner.  It was then that I knew I loved Him and wanted my life to be led by Him.  It was then that I began to ask Him to show me how to live.  The Bible verse, “ Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right (Proverbs 20:11), became important to me then, and helps me today as I realize the children God places in my care, are also capable of making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. So today, I honor the memory of Mrs. Heath; my First Grade teacher.  She partnered with my parents, and my church, in teaching me the things that would guide me all the days of my life.  I only pray that the children God has placed in my classrooms through the years may have the same experience.

Inside the Teacher’s Mind

         Thoughts, words, philosophies, theological ideals . . . they all swirl together like dry fallen leaves on a windy day.  I envision them in a miniature whirlwind, gaining momentum as they spin across the yard.  Just at the moment they create a definite shape, the wind stops and the leaves drop to the ground in a disheveled heap.  So are my thoughts oft’ times as I prepare for a new day of teaching.  I study my various curriculums, comb through the language portions, and search for clues about the developmental skills of the students at the various ages.  I continually teach, analyze the learning process, and then adjust and teach again, always seeking to address the skill levels of my material to the learning levels of my students.

            Each day I read more books, think more thoughts, and become more agitated that the “electrodes” are not down loading from my head.  I am thinking always on “a better way” to teach my boys and girls.  It consumes my mental space and over-rides many other daily routine priorities.  I awaken with fresh thoughts, I type in a few seed thoughts, and then so many others get lost in the process.  There are jumbled ideas standing impatiently in line, all pushing and shoving, trying to be first and because of the chaos, many getting lost in the shuffle.  That’s okay because I am finding that they get back into line and conduct themselves in a more orderly fashion the next time around, and I am able to let them have their turn at the front.  I am just impatient.  I want this done now . . . while I’m thinking about it.  But I have time, and patience has its own reward.

            But for now, I will thank God that He has equipped me for this day, and will supply the needs I will encounter this day.  He will be my Helper, this day.  I will face this day with joy and expectancy as I stand before my class and look into the eyes of my students. 

Writing Lessons

Today I saw a beautiful car.  Someone told me it was a Lamborghini.  I had an instant flashback of an incident that happened in my classroom many years ago.  A welcomed quietness  had settled over my first  grade classroom as the children worked on their creative writing assignment.   The only sounds were those of an occassional over-dotted “i” or those made when someone tried to erase a mistake and ripped the paper.
As I was sitting at my desk I noticed one of the students raise her hand.
“Yes, Miranda.”
“Teacher, how do you spell Lamborghini ?”
I searched my memory bank quickly and could think of no word she was mistakenly mispronouncing.  Since I couldn’t figure it out I decided to let her give me some clue as to what she was talking about.
“Miranda, what is a Lamborghini ?”
Just then an amazing thing happened. As if on  cue from a rehearsed script, every head instantly came up and with one voice the children chidingly said to me,  “it’s a car !”
Not being one who keeps up with names of cars beyond Ford, Chevy, or Buick, I was a bit mistified about which cave I had  just crawled out from.
To cover the rather awkward moments of incredulous  stares, I asked the children to please get back to  work.  With much sighing and sounds of disbelief they reluctantly returned to their assignment.
A few moments later, just when I thought the incident had been forgotten, I saw Miranda lean over to her neighbor and heard her whisper a bit too loudly, “and she’s supposed to be the TEACHER !”
Aren’t kids just great!!!!!

Preschool Lexicon

Connor, my two-year-old grandson kept asking me for something, but I was having difficulty understanding him. “BONE”…bone…bonnnnnne,” he said.

“What do you want, Connor? Nonna doesn’t understand.”

His expression was clearly one of frustration and exasperation when he finally sat down in front of me, criss-crossed his legs, placed his elbows on his knees, and entwined his fingers under his chin.  He looked directly into my eyes as if about to explain to a very dense person exactly what he wanted. “Nonna – ring, ring!”

On regular occassions when Connor was in a mood to talk on the “bone”, anything handy would suffice.  On a trip not many days later, his shoe worked just fine.  Never mind a land-line, or cell phone.  All the people he talked to that day seemed to enjoy his conversation as he laughed and communicated his thoughts via his “shoe-line”.

Prayer Confusion

Six-year-old Bethanyapproached my desk to share an important event in the life of her family.  Getting my undivided attention she announced with great seriousness what was on her mind.

“Mrs. Ritchie, will you pray for my daughter-in-law?” 

 Apparently she read the confused expression on my face because she quickly corrected her error. 

 “I got confused.  What I meant to say was pray for my daughter-in-law’s cousin”!

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