Saturday, August 25, 2012

a dream to reality...

pinned from pinterest
Last weekend of summer before I get back into routine of teaching.  Am I excited?  I would say excited like going on a roller coaster...not sure what the next turn will look like or feel like, but I am buckled in and ready for the ride.

In prep for my "ride" I have been researching new ideas, reading up on my old ideas, de-cluttering things I have had in my "classroom files" for YEARS!  So one of the sites I have been thoroughly enjoying this summer for new and fresh ideas is pinterest.  I love pinterest ( can follow me here) well, haven't found anyone who doesn't like it.  While perusing the site I saw a neat pin idea with rocks.  The pin was for a guest book idea where you have a bowl of rocks out and have your guests write their name on one and you have them out on display.  So cute.

So before I tell you what I did...let's rewind a bit and find out how my teaching all started shall we?

I have always wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember.  I had an awesome Kindergarten experience, my teacher was amazing and, well, I always loved school.  When I graduated highschool, I already knew I wanted to do something regarding helping people....either a teacher, police officer, or paramedic were my thoughts.  I took a year and did SLI (Servant Leadership Institute) which allowed me to focus in on God and what HE had planned for my life.  So onto the process of elimination...paramedic?  nope, I failed all things science, so that was not going to be an option.  Police officer?  loved the idea, but it didn't fit with what would serve me and my dreams.

I know looking back God was already setting my heart up to be a teacher, I just didn't know it fully.

During SLI, I met Kent and fell head over heels in love with the guy.  We started dating, got engaged and married all within a year...when you know, you know...and we knew, you know?  During that time I had started a 2 year Early Childhood Education course at Conestoga College.  I went into the course thinking "when I graduate I am going to teach Kindergarten somewhere!"  That was my ultimate goal.  I remember sitting in class one day about six months into the my first year.  One of the profs said "If you are in here wanting to become a Kindergarten teacher they have recently changed the policies and ECE will not be enough for you to qualify in the public system."  I actually was pretty discouraged as I thought "now what am I going to do?"  I was learning so many valuable things that were all things "kindergarten" and loving it!  I loved every course, the teachers were amazing and the people I met were pretty great too.  I did placements in daycares which gave me great practical ideas for lessons, activities etc, but it still was not a classroom.  I finished out the courses and graduated.  At the time of graduation I was six months pregnant with our firstborn.  I remember going to a couple interviews for jobs, but not a lot of people are interested in hiring someone who is going to be on maternity leave starting in September.

One night in July, Kent and I were talking about our "dreams".  "What would be your dream job?"  I remember saying "my dream job would be to be the Junior Kindergarten teacher at Koinonia Christian Academy."  At that time they already had incredible teachers in place, but I thought maybe SOMEDAY I could work there....I can dream, right?

The next day (no joke), the VERY NEXT DAY, I get a call from the principal of KCA asking if I would be interested in being the Junior Kindergarten teacher starting in September.  Two mornings a week.  As much as I wanted to yell YES, there was one slight "hiccup".  The conversation went something like this:

me:  um, that would be great, but do you know I am pregnant, due the end of August?
principal: yes, we can start the year by covering your maternity leave and YOU tell us when you would like to start.
me: ok, I will talk to Kent and I will get back to you.

I remember thinking, wow God, you knew this the whole time, setting me up, preparing my heart, each step purposed to this moment.  Things were changing around us that were opening doors for my dreams to come true.  My parents were moving close to the school and my mom was more then happy to volunteer to take the baby while I taught Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  I started January of 2001and have been teaching every year since (with about three short well planned maternity leaves).

That brings me back to my pinterest idea....

It got me thinking as I looked at the names written on those rocks.  I am going into my 13th year of teaching....yup, that's right 13 years!!!  WOW!  What if I used this idea and every stone would have a name of one of the students I have taught.  Each student I have laughed with, hugged, prayed for.

Some classes have been small, some large, some busy, some calm; but all have been me.  I know some students do not remember I was their teacher, but their teacher remembers them.

So at my front door right now I have a bowl of rocks.  Not just any rocks, each one has a name of a child who was taught by Mrs. Barnes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

1-2-3 what will I be....

Every year around this time I teach the students about community helpers.  We talk about how God has a plan for our lives and that we can use what we do (our job) when we are older to serve him.  At the end of the two-three weeks of teaching this I ask them what they want to be when they grow up.  It never fails, each year the answers make me smile.  This class was no exception.  Enjoy :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

keeping up with the times...

ANGRY BIRDS in my classroom?!?
I love kid's creativity!  I had blocks out on the carpet this week for one of my centres.  I don't give them any "instructions" other then to build something.  I don't want to put limits on their creativity and love to see what their minds come up with.  Some children (working in pairs), build one thing together and other build their own thing.
On Monday one of the students started building a "tower" and then another one a little bit further away.  He then had some coloured blocks and started throwing them to knock over the towers.  I do not prefer the students to throw things in the classroom (understandably) so I walked over from helping another student and asked him to stop throwing blocks please.  He said "I have to."  Obviously needing an explanation as to why he felt the NEED to throw, I asked the big question "Why?".  He answered "because I am playing angry birds!"  As I looked at what he had made, one of the structures looked like a level of the game and the one "tower" did resemble a sling shot.  He proceeded to show me his "pile" of angry birds.
I have come to a consistent realization that the Kindergarten classroom that I grew up in only slightly resembles the one that I teach in today.  Change is good, I just hope I can keep up ;)

a "level"

round blocks are "bomb birds" then the coloured ones are like the game (or so I was told)

the "slingshot"
And for those of you wondering, I did follow through with my "no throwing rule" and asked them to maybe roll the birds instead.  Needless to say it wasn't as "fun" but I believe we can make the most of any situation.  The students gave no complaints to the new rule, it just became a new challenge to overcome!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

when can I go forward?

This week in Kindergarten I have been teaching my class about signs and how we can read them. A lot of signs around them have no words but we are still able to "read" them and know how to obey them.
I showed them an exit sign and even if they could or could not "read" it they knew what it's purpose was. I showed them a blue sign with a lady on it and a blue sign with a man on it and they all knew it was a sign for the washrooms and which one was for which...(with of course giggles, ALWAYS giggles when it comes to the washroom...what is WITH that?)
We went on to the traffic light and how we knew that when the light was red we know to stop, when it turns green we know it is time to go. The next sign I showed them was a STOP sign. I told them again that even if they could or couldn't "read" the word most of them should know what the sign means. They all said it meant stop and that they see that sign all the time. As I went to move on to the next sign, one of the students had a very puzzled look on his face. I started to explain the next sign being a construction sign etc, but then couldn't get past this confused look on this child's face.
I stopped and asked, "You look like you don't understand something? Do you have a question?" He proceeded to say "yeah, when do you know when to go?" I was a bit confused and asked "what do you mean?" He said, "That sign...(pointing at the STOP sign) when does it change? How do you know when to GO?" I then explained how great a question that was and that a STOP sign doesn't change. We obey the sign, look both ways, and when it is safe to go, we make the decision to go. The sign stays the same.

Seriously, deep question! When I think of my own life and when I have STOPped doing something that is in line with my purpose, sometimes in fear of not knowing where I am going. Am I waiting for the sign to turn to give me permission to move forward? Or am I able to look in all directions and know that it is safe to move, knowing God is my protector and provider. I believe there is value in taking a time to STOP at an intersection and wait a moment for things to pass before moving forward (Be still and know that I am God Ps. 46:10). I want to choose to then go and not wait forever expecting a light to flash or a sign to change. I can make that decision with God's guidance, in confidence knowing He is my safety and protection as I follow His "signs" for my life.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bible stories in the eyes of a 5 year old...

In Kindergarten, both the students and I LOVE Bible time. I show big colourful illustrated cards and tell them the story. They sit back and listen and you could literally hear a pin drop each time I read it as they are so intent on listening to every detail. They look forward to this time every week...and so do I :)
...but of course, with everything that happens in my classroom, I never leave without a good laugh. One of these times was back in November or so when we were going through some of the Old Testament stories. This one in particular was about Jacob and when he wrestled with God. The Kindergarteners took in every word as they always do. They really were amazed by the story. When I asked about the story the following week to see if they could recall what it was about, one student put up his hand and said
"God jumped out of a bush and tackled Jacob".
I guess that's one way to tell the story!
Today left me laughing as well as I was telling the children the story of Jesus calling the disciples. The story was when Jesus told Peter to put the nets in the water and Peter did and they caught loads of fish. With each story the students go back to the tables and do the corresponding page to reinforce the lesson. Today the page had a picture of Jesus on the boat and the directions were to draw a bunch of fish in the net. As I walked around the room to see everyone's drawings and give more direction, one child showed me his picture.
This is how the conversation went:
me: Wow, (child's name), what an amazing net of fish you drew!
child: Thanks, I drew sharks!
me: oh my, don't let the shark eat Jesus.
child: oh, they won't, Jesus will "force" them.

Obviously this child watches a lot of Star Wars and believes Jesus is a Jedi! LOL

I love my job, I love my students. So glad my days are full of laughter. I pray yours are too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

teeth and our national anthem

So I had a request to write about some more cute things that keep happening in my class. Well, a couple have happened in the past couple days, so I thought I should share:

Story one: Every week as we learn a new phonogram, the Kindergarten kids get to bring in a show n tell that starts with the letter we are learning. After they show their item I ask them to put it on the red table by the door. That way it is not a distraction in their lap while other's are having a turn. This morning one of the students brought in something that started with "t". He showed his teeth (in his mouth). He walked around the carpet showing his teeth...then the whole class started to laugh because he said he couldn't put his show and tell on the red table. He then proceeded to tell me that his OMI could, cause her teeth come out! Oh boy ;)

Story two: Every Friday we have chapel together as a school. Before we go into chapel I always like to review with the students what we should remember to do or not do in chapel. No talking while someone is talking, sitting proper in our chairs, facing the front, and during praise and worship time we praise and worship. So, we are in chapel and we start off the same way we always do, singing our National anthem. Partway through "O Canada" I look over and one of the students had his hand raised and eyes closed completely worshipping with everything in him for our national anthem :)

I love my job, I love these kids...yes, everyone of them. These "stories" that happen in the classroom are just some of the things that keep my life interesting. I treasure every one of them, and I commit to share more!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

oh the memories

This year is the last year of teaching with having at least one of my own boys in Kindergarten with me. For the past 8 years I have had one of each of my four in my classroom with me, and starting in September that will change. My youngest will move on to Grade one! As I have watched each of them grow and change in their year with me, it made me think about my life. When I was in Kindergarten, I decided two things; I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up and I wanted to be a mommy. Who knew I would be incredibly blessed to be both at the same time.
So, I found the photo of me in Kindergarten and I have come a long way. I found it interesting to see myself at the age I "started" my journey of education....I don't plan of ending it anytime soon :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

what defines me?

Today in Kindergarten we were talking about shapes; particularly squares and rectangles. I showed the class our Canada flag and asked what shapes they saw on it. One child said two rectangles. Perfect! Another child said "the Toronto Maple leaf". Um, yes, a RED maple leaf, but Toronto? :)
Symbols are all around us, and with these five year olds, that is how they label something or define an object or place. If I show them a symbol of an octagon they define it as a stop sign, whether it has the word stop on it or not.
It got me thinking of what defines me? When people look at me do they put a label on me by what they see? Do they define me by my job alone or do they get to know me as a person.
At a staff meeting this past week our Pastor shared with us about "Walking with God" which is our church theme this year. He said something that really resinated. He asked "If you couldn't teach, who would you be?" He challenged us in our own personal walk with God that I am to be a Christian before I am a teacher. I want God to define my life before anything else. My desire is that when people see me they see Jesus as a symbol or label that makes me who I am.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

l is for lion

This past week I came up with a cute craft for "l". I cut out shapes for the students to glue as directed and then gave them white glue in a cup with a q-tip (for a gluestick) and also gave them fusilli noodles. They glued the noodles around the head for the mane. I then gave them a black marker to finish off the details of the face and claws if they wanted to. Some even drew their lion with teeth ;) They really loved this craft....not sure if it was because it was messy (glue) or because they got to play with food, but regardless, they had a great time and the final product was worth all the mess.

j is for jellybeans

For our j craft I had the students cut out different coloured jelly beans and then glue in in a jar. I loved this craft for the simple fact that they got lots of practice cutting ;) They turned out great as well. I showed them a real jar with jellybeans and pointed out how the colours were in all different spots. They also were not all in rows. So their challenge was not to put them in any order or in any pattern (which they love doing as we have done TONS of this in our math lessons) They met the challenge and their jars turned out awesome.