Three proposals from Libertyville and Washington Elementary Schools in the Fairfield Community School District were selected to present at this year's ITEC (Iowa Technology and Education Connection) Conference in October.
Shelley Carter & Brianna Thornton, 2nd grade teachers
Brandi Strickler, Kindergarten teacher, with John Grunwald, Music Teacher
It was an energizing week for me! Throughout the short week with students, I was reminded of several things.
1) Remember and treasure their innocence. It's easiest to see in the kindergarten students. They are learning so many new routines, and trying so hard. The rudimentary drawing of a fork and spoon that I had drawn on the silverware buckets at lunch had worn off since I drew them on last year. I noticed that our new cook had written "Forks" and "Spoons" on the bucket. She smiled when I asked to borrow her marker to draw the symbols on again... "Some of 'em can't read yet," I said. She nodded.
One afternoon, I walked past the girls' bathroom. I heard a small voice say, "How does this work..." Then SPLOOOSSHHHH... The same voice said "Oh!" I smiled to myself, thinking of all of the little things we "just know."
2) Students remember how we treat them. When I asked the students, "What is my job? What is the principal's job?" Most of them started with the regular, "takes care of naughty kids." Several students, ones who have actually been to the office, said, "She helps you solve problems."
This morning I was visiting a 2nd grade classroom where students were working on math. One little boy motioned me over and whispered, "I need help on this one. It's big." It was a word problem.
Last year, when he was a first grader, I noticed that he was supposed to be working on math and had a huge pile of bear counters in front of him. I saw that he was pushing them around and acting busy. I kneeled down and quietly asked him to read the first problem, "7-3= ". He said, "Seven, three." I explained the symbols to him, and we reread the problem together. Then I modeled that 7 meant that we start with 7 bears. I counted out seven, and pushed the rest aside. Then, we took three away. We counted the leftovers. After another problem, I was on my way to the next classroom. That afternoon I wandered into music class. He wiggled and wiggled. Finally, there was a break as students were putting materials away. He turned around and said, "Mrs. Schloss! I finished ALL of my math!"
Back to this morning. We read the problem together. Mother baked 6 chocolate chip cookies. She gave two cookies to Kevin. How many did she have left? I whispered, "Do you remember last year when we worked with the bears?" He nodded. I said, "If we counted out bears for the cookies, how many would you count out?" He said, "6.""So, how many does Kevin get?""2.""Great, can you see them in your mind? Moving two away? How many are left?""4!""Right!"
3) I am part of an awesome team. Repeatedly this week, adults came together to get things done. There were duties, and planning. New students, open house, and classrooms to get ready. Students who weren't sure what buses to get on. It was busy, busy, busy... Nonetheless, every time that I walked into a classroom, a meeting, or down the hallway, my teammates were smiling and teaching students, connecting with families, and working to provide the best education for each student. Many people had their flexibility tested this week, and I am very thankful for their positive team approach.