“I hope that he will continue to be a purr-fectly paw-sitive presence when he enters 5th grade” – is a sentence that I definitely put into one of my report card comments (he loves cats).
“Why does she read like she’s running out of time?” – is a sentence that I put into another report card (she loves Hamilton).
But I just wanted to include this whole comment that I wrote for another student of mine. I feel so privileged to be able to write something like this; this girl was a literal rock star.
I can’t say that it was a joy to teach **** this year… because this year, I don’t think I really taught **** – she basically taught herself. She always went above and beyond in all subjects and did a great job in making sense of materials that I gave vague directions on (since she was ahead of the class), and constantly made positive choices.
Yet beyond her academic gifting and maturity, I really appreciated ****’s kind and patient nature. I know there were many times where her questions and needs weren’t met because I had to help other students, where she wasn’t called on to participate, and where she ended up with tasks that required trust but weren’t the most exciting. I really appreciate **** for taking this on and just helping me out as a teacher with her positive attitude and kindness towards others. It definitely helped keep the classroom mood light since **** was the friend that some of our students really needed.
I hope that if she learned anything from fourth grade, it is to take risks and to embrace mistakes. I hope that she won’t always be met with success but have some real challenges and opportunities to grow. Like I said, I can’t say it was a joy teaching ****, but I can say it was a joy learning from her and witnessing the power of her being in my class.
Here’s an excerpt from another one. I think this is amazing to witness in anyone, let alone a 4th grade boy..
As a person, **** is one of the most empathetic and kindest boys in my classroom. There are so many instances where he stayed loyal to a classmate even when his peers were not, and other instances, where he was understanding of students with special needs even when they offended him. He celebrates with his classmates and forgives easily. That is not an easy thing to do, and I felt blessed to witness that in my classroom this year.
This morning, a boy delivered this awesome map that a parent at my school blew up for me on his architectural printer… it was beautiful. I enjoyed it for 90 minutes until a certain child, in his haste .. to do whatever, spilled it out of the tube, and pushed it out of the way and crumpled it. I yelled. I definitely yelled.. when I discovered it. Even now, my blood starts to race a little. He denied doing it. But later when I approached him and asked him to iron it, he said he would. And later-later, when I asked him how.. he told me it was an accident. The closest admission of guilt I’ll get.
This morning I opened a box from Amazon. Amazon usually never fails me. I got supplies through DonorsChoose! And I was excited! Was going to put everything away for our art project. Unfortunately, the spackle had cracked and gotten all over everything and so I spent the morning cleaning off my hands and jacket.
I found this in my pocket when I got home. *sigh* I have such big pockets. Pens, post-its, and pokemon cards. All in my left pocket. I leave my right pocket for my car keys, cell phone, and apparently, a crumpled up receipt. There was a hole in that pocket, and I sewed it up. Unfortunately, I forgot to check if anything fell through that hole. I now have 1 binder clip, 1 plasticky thing, and 1 paperclip sewn into the lining of my jacket…
Ms. Kim is a FISH? 🙂
The boy who wrote this (yesterday morning) had a GREAT day today. We finally had a conversation with his mom yesterday. Good thing I didn’t find the note he wrote me until today… lol. (Aside: I sent him out to write an explanation of his feelings with an aide. Now, I understand the need to help a child get out his feelings, but REALLY? As the adult, you couldn’t steer him to see beyond himself? smh). He was upset on Monday because he couldn’t find his rough draft. I suggested that maybe I misplaced it. Then when we really couldn’t find it, he felt that I only cared about myself and that I hid the essay from him. (His words, obvi). Honestly though, it must be so hard to be him.
To you this might look like a normal chair. It did to me too. At the end of the day, I sat down so that I could do some mini-grading. As soon as I sat, there was this weird sound – like velcro. And when I got up, I realized that yes, some sticky substance was now on my butt.. because a bunch of sticky stuff was all over the chair. Great.
But honestly. Today was a GREAT day. Besides the incident in the morning (what do you do about a kid who is extremely difficult and pretty smart? Nothing much since their parents think that it’s your fault anyway. Oh well!) where I yelled, things were really smooth. Thursdays are my favorites because they have dance in the morning and they come in really ready!
It’s kind of funny because our behavioral specialist came in to observe some of my kids at my request…. and everyone was SO WELL BEHAVED that… nothing stuck out. Go figure.
Some memorable moments from this week:
-C sidles up to me and I lean in so that I can hear him, “Ms. Kim, word in the halls is that you have some pencils up front?” LOLLL
-I had a great convo with a parent who is now agreeing to get my student tested. (Previously – very adversed to anything that might apply to special ed).
-When kids were getting in line, one girl punched another girl and then went, “Oops!” and looked at me. Baby steps! I told her she had to hold my hand. Then we walked down the halls, while I held her hand. Usually in elementary school, you know a kid’s in trouble when they’re holding the teacher’s hand. But this was a super big victory because in the beginning of the year, she wouldn’t even let me TOUCH her. And I think she felt giggly about it. This girl makes my day… the most stoic, ornery, stubborn, little feather of a girl… she’s basically a cranky grandma in a little girl body. I love her so much.
-For some reason, one of my very bright girls has started to complain a lot but as a joke. She gave me a backhug and I said with a straight face, “That better not be XX,” which then made another girl and another boy come over to do a group hug.
-Speaking of hugs, I got a few random ones today. and I am NOT a hugger.
-R ran out to recess with a fart noise maker. I was just super proud and impressed that he waited until recess to pull it out!! He has been spending most of his recesses chasing people around with the fart noise maker.
-T kept trying out jokes on me from her new book from the library. I told her that if I didn’t laugh, she’d get in big trouble. She kept trying to give me jokes. I kept not laughing and frowning more. I had a good time.
-4th and 5th graders LOVE getting excited about history and reading and etc. It’s really sweet. There are definitely sweet moments.
– One boy hugged another boy with this deep, loving, eye-closed embrace ….. because the second boy was about to get a video game and the first boy was SO happy for him. They’re my two loudest boys, but I couldn’t get them to be quiet in the halls because I was cracking up, because it was just so sweet (and ridiculous). The second boy has a hard time getting along with people, so my heart was just warmed up to see the first boy hug him.
– OMG. A BOY BROUGHT ME DAFFODILS AND I LEFT THEM AT SCHOOL!!!!!
I’ve also had this pimple for a week now. It’s horrendous. It’s like all the pimples of the year decided to band together to become one pimplón. It’s ginormous. You can see it on my snapchat.
At many of the schools I worked at, Special Ed was always the area where we struggled. One school straight up ignored it, while the other schools had a relationship with Seneca (if you’re in Bay Area education, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Interesting tidbit: did you know the CEO is on the Alameda Board of Education? Talk about conflict of interest…).
I can’t say anything general about Seneca since some of my friends LOVED their Seneca peeps at their school, and I’ve felt mixed about my personal experience. Anyway, the point is, schools ALWAYS struggle to find special ed teachers so they outsource to places (like Seneca) and end up with subpar results that simply comply with legal regulations but don’t actually help the kid….
AND, now I can see WHY.
I have 3 cleared CA credentials. During my multiple-subject credentialing program, I was told I could just add a single-subject English credential by taking an additional online class and passing the CSETs. So I did. Then later on in my career, I took an additional online class, passed more CSETs and added a Foundational-Level Math credential. Now, taking these classes suck, but they helped me get to where I wanted to be….
To get a Special Ed credential, it seems like what I have to do is not only take those CSETs but ALSO take a full on credentialing course! It’s insane! As a sane adult who no longer has the brain capacity to educate AND take full-on classes, the logical recourse then is just to continue with what I have.
This is so problematic. I don’t think teachers naturally veer towards Special Education because it feels so foreign. I think AFTER teaching for a while, you can start to see the need AND ways that you personally can fill that need. (At least, that’s what happened for me). A lot of the complaints about SPED teachers from gen ed teachers is that they’ve never actually been in the classroom. They’ve worked with small groups so that what they suggest or prescribe to the teacher is not something that a teacher can easily implement. I had the privilege of working with a teacher who used to be a SPED teacher. Watching how she differentiated and helped her kids in an inclusive environment is something I’ll always take with me.
Now, seeing the NEED for SPED teachers, I thought, why not? I’ll add that credential. But NO~! I can’t!
Dear California, I understand the need to properly train and vet our teachers. At the same time, there has to be some way to help teachers reach across and teach in other areas without making them a full-time student again. Also, I’ve TAKEN classes about reading difficulties and the brain and learning.
Anyway, I don’t think I’ll try to go into special ed.
I WROTE THIS HUGE POST AND SOMEHOW IT GOT COMPLETELY ERASED!!!!!!
But you know what? That’s okay. Because I’ve saved YOU, my reader, from reading my processing and I’ll just give you the nuggets of wisdom I just gleaned.
I cried at school this morning and basically, I think I cry when I’m frustrated by how self-centered my kids are.. especially since we’re in March and the classroom is still so disparate and lacks community Especially when I compare how much wealth this school has in comparison to my school in Oakland, I just start to feel icky…. and disgusted by them. (Plus.. they’re LITTLE kids.)
Some kids did come to me to apologize (and one girl said, “I think you need a hug”) … and I just drily told them, “4th and 5th grade is the awkward year where you don’t just say you’re sorry, you show it.”
However, I can’t continue in this vein. I can’t control them by snapping at them or by fear. It’s not right. I think it was really hard to overcome the coldness I felt though.
But ultimately, I can’t CHANGE them. I can only change ME. And my attitude. And even though I don’t really know how to make this right, I know I have to try. (Even though for some of the kids, my extension of a white flag is what I “should do” since I’m a teacher and “it’s my job.”)
So then, I wrote a list – 25 things – one to each child – where I let them know what I appreciate… and that brought me to the fact that
They’re trying. Regardless of how emotionally stunted I think they are in comparison to where they should/could be… they are in their different ways.
So.. the end. Tomorrow is a new day. I will try again.
This is a blog I wanted to write on Saturday. Unfortunately, I split my hand open (never use Wusthof while discussing the inauguration) and went to the ER instead.
For TLDR folks, you can skim down – to the purple part.
So, I grew up in CA. To be specific, I grew up in many parts of California – from LA to the Central Coast to the Silicon Valley, and now I live in the East Bay. I find it mildly amusing that given how in high school, I was the “conservative one” (comes from a typical Asian-religious family upbringing), so many of my current peers consider me as someone with more of a “liberal bend.”
I benefited from a rich, liberal education in Palo Alto. I loved it! Well, middle school, of course, sucked (I moved in 7th grade and had to deal with kids who were dealing with their own personal demons… I guess I just was an easy target?)… but high school allowed me to branch out with different interests and I’m still super fond of my memories and friendships from there. Honestly, where else would a poor pastor’s kid get to try rich kid sports in a fancy pool, blow glass, study film, and do labs of the same caliber as an intro college class? Also, Paly let me have a diverse (read: not Asian-only) group of friends.
In college, God saved me. I always knew of the hypocrisy of the church, and in my own blindness, I sought to melt into a large congregation so that I could “do my duty.” Through people that He placed in my life and through the Bible, the clarity of what it means to be a Christian (trusting in Jesus Christ’s finished work when he died for my sins and resurrected — not in any of my own actions or my own thoughts of who He is) … finally became clear. And in His mercy, I came to learn the beauty of the word, submission. Of course, I learned other things too — but that’s my favorite part about college.
In graduate school, I finally realized how “minority” I was. I began to be able to put vocabulary to elementary playground experiences. And, the Internet had evolved to the point where I saw firsthand black and brown men being killed for being loud rather than docile.
When I began working, I began to learn what people might mean by “school to prison pipelines.” How segregation still occurred via zipcodes and high school “accelerated tracks.” I answered questions that I didn’t even know were allowed when I was a kid… questions like, “Why don’t they mention Korea in Asian history?” or “Where is Asia-America within US history?” or even “Wait, am I black or white?” because growing up, during that weekend where we talked about Martin Luther King, there was no other.
That’s me. What else is me?
I’m a teacher. In the last 5 years of my life, I’ve worked with groups that I think may have more of a need for me than groups who have access.
I’m a reader. I love books and blogs and news. Never grew up watching TV. I love satire, I love wit, I love intelligent reasoning, I love pathos. I graduated from college, so now I have time to read whatever I want. (I think while I was in college, I only read books of choice between June and August… oh wait, except for when the final Harry Potter book came out and the Twilight series. Don’t discount this blog post because of this confession).
I support public radio. Grew up with KQED programming on TV (if we were allowed). NPR is my jam. I just discovered KPFA (more local-er news).
I am Korean-American who grew up in a rural town. This means that as a kid, I knew what it meant to be a victim of childish racism. This means that I know what it felt like to receive only one version of history. This means I thought I was white but was the unattractive, flat-nosed, “chingchangchong” oriental on the playground.
I am a Bible-believing Christian. I believe that the Bible has truths that transcend our current social lenses. I believe that as a created being, my God, the creator, knows more about who I am than I can on my own. I can go into the logic behind this — but that would derail. I only include this because it’s a huge part of …
Why I did not participate in the Women’s March.
Why I did not participate in the Women’s March.
Minor Personal Reason 1: I don’t know what we’re protesting. Protesting a man makes no sense to me. Protesting the voting system also makes no sense to me. Historically, marches and protests were in tandem with asking for something specific, and then also using the provisions in place (which I don’t deny people are doing – with the internet, it’s so easy!). I did not vote for DT. Seeing him makes me cringe. But who a person is isn’t his policy (although…. listening to the confirmation hearings… okay, won’t go there). I think he’s just the first president we’ve had where we can actually see who he is. I realized, MOST presidents have decorum. Until now, it was almost a given that you had to have a good facade to be president. This man is ridiculous. But quoting Aziz Ansari, “Change doesn’t come from presidents.” We
Minor Personal Reason 2: The Popular Vote vs. Electoral Vote issue. Okay, I get that lots of people feel angry/annoyed that their vote “didn’t count,” and I also get how there are different views on why/how the electoral college was created. I think what people in large cities are ignoring is the fact that if the popular vote was the only thing around, our country would be driven by policies favored by urban areas. Major Cities-driven politics is one very likely cause of why people rallied to DT. Sure, gerrymandering may have something to do with it — but how many of us have actually paid attention to working-class folks prior to 2015/16? I know at least at HGSE, everyone’s all up in urban education – ain’t no one setting a foot into rural ed. So yeah, I don’t agree with the “2 million strong” thing either. It would suck if counties of SF, NYC, Denver, and LA were driving politics for the whole nation, no? Even if they had more people? Groupthink is real.
Aside: Here are the older links regarding the county votes:
Major Political Reason: Women’s Rights Are Human Rights is misleading. As a young, female teacher of Asian descent, I agree that women deserve the same rights as anybody else and that we get to make decisions about our bodies.
But, you know, given education? … you don’t get a free pass for irresponsibility especially if that free pass includes, you know, killing a person. No thank you.
Why am I claiming that it’s irresponsibility (and dare I say, selfishness?)
A very teeny number of abortions are due to rape or incest or health of the mother. The last actual percent fact I could find on the Internet was from 1989, so I’m ignoring that… but I did go to the CDC site (to check how many are done by kids <19) and AGI (reasons for abortion) to confirm that anywhere from 75%-95% of abortions are due to personal choice, or “a woman’s right to choose.” What was super interesting is how people aren’t asking about the rape/incest cases after the ’90s. My conspiracy theory? It’s because we don’t want to know / acknowledge that the “must” situations don’t actually exist.
By the time we realize they exist, they’re a mini-human. At this point, we know that an egg is an egg, and a sperm is a sperm. When they come together, they actually make a little fetus. A fetus that, by 8 weeks has fully functioning organs. They react to painful stimuli at 24-26 weeks (jury’s still out on whether they fully “understand” that it’s pain though). They’re genetic makeup is completely their own. And, the earliest preemie ever to be born was at 22 weeks (rounded up).. you can abort a kid at 24!.
I teach kids. A lot of them are unwanted by society – I know this because of the reluctance to spend money on them, the reluctance to look at research to see what’s best for them, and you know, how a lot of them are being killed.
I don’t know where you would draw the line on “This is where I stop advocating for unwanted people without a voice.” Is it when they graduate from your class? Is it when they drop out? Is it when they’re “only in kinder” (nevermind that their brains are probably way spongier than when I actually get them). Do I not advocate for them because they can’t speak words? Because they’re small? Is it because they’re in the womb? Is it because it’s 3 days before they have all their complete organs? Is it when they’re only a “blob of cells” (nevermind that if you give it a few weeks, it changes?).
I mean, is it only if it will affect me and my life that we’ll advocate for them? People are now advocating for Bumblebees. A bumblebee is smaller than an 8-week old fetus and is less complex. Come on now! (PS: Also, I think people are substantially more important than animals – God made them in His image. Yup! I believe that! Obvi, this doesn’t mean abuse the earth – y’all know this girl is green.)
Again, choice, to me, sounds like, “If you’re wanted, you live; if you’re unwanted or , you die.”
I think it’s SO interesting to me to hear my friends argue in favor of IDEA and working SUPER hard to make sure that all of our students get their plans and have their needs met, when the hidden elephant in the room is that in 5-10 years, as technology increases and as we clamor for abortive rights …. we probably won’t even have children with special needs because they’ll probably be aborted if found with an issue. Just google that – it’s no secret. (we might also lose females and minorities – because given world-trends, they’re the main victims of infanticide anyway).
I feel like our solutions are ultimately, not out of a care for people, but out of what holds most utility. This is why we have a tendency to overdrug kids rather than offering support in the form of people and time. This is why the way we care for our veterans is so horrible — all the “new” innovations to help people overcome PTSD by engaging with other people is not new. It’s just time consuming. Back to abortion – I know, it’s easier to terminate a pregnancy rather than deal, as a society, with unwanted children or low-income families. But imagine if we spent all our time and money on that rather than on killing.
Planned Parenthood? Please. This is a HUGE money-making industry. Out of every 8 people they serve, 1 gets an abortion (in addition to their other services). They count abortion (with its cost) as equal to giving someone a pregnancy test. That 3% number is a myth… and this was where I got SUPER disappointed in the reporters I follow… how they are willing to get into the nitty-gritty of other facts, but not into this area. They know better – it will tank their careers because PP has a huge lobbying group.
Anyway, at the end of the day, we have science – we can see the craziest 3-D ultrasounds ever. Doctors have been prolonging life and saving life in times and places that our grandparents never even dreamed of. So, this issue? Is mainly an issue of “my body mine” without concern about the risk you take.
How does your body make a baby? Sex. There is a risk involved. There are also PLENTY of ways to mitigate that risk. If it doesn’t work out – don’t just kill the baby because it’s smaller than you or an unwanted responsibility.
Lastly, I don’t need to hear from people telling me to then put money into safe-sex programs because that is not the only other solution. There are SO many things that affect this issue… and also, it’s again, really condescending, to assume that I’m not.
PS. I did not know of any of the “exclusion” things that happened with the march until a few days later… I’m trying to sort of.. pause on my news intake until they calm things down over at the white house. smh…. just saying this isn’t a response to that.
I don’t normally plug my grad program. I’m ambivalent about the stances they take and the directions their churned out alumni run towards. BUT I’m REALLY thankful for the research I got to dip into AND the classmates. Even people (like the two below), with whom I’ve only had very brief encounters with (well, I guess with M, it wasn’t brief since we ended up driving across the continental states together), because we bonded over shared ideas, I CAN STILL HIT THEM UP NOW!!!!
Anyway, I love the resources that spill out of this convo. I feel like they’re pretty rare too. SO, if you’re interested in bringing in relevant and thoughtful resources surrounding native history in the US, look through this convo!
Hey ladies – just took over a 4/5th combo class. They haven’t started US history yet. We’re starting by looking at regions and I’m doing a slapdash job of it.
If you guys have references for how to do due justice to native history (upper elementary reading level) pre-Columbian.. I would totally be grateful.
I think the key would be to connect the narrative of history to the narrative of today (i.e. native people are still alive – funny how often that isn’t taught lol expose them to the traditions but also modern day native authors, music (tribe called red), art (Steven paul judd) – some well known ones
I’m trying to teach it as waves of immigration but yeah – THIS is what I need like – names / people to look into
do you follow adrienne keene’s blog native appropriations? there’d be some good resources there, too
Article VI The constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in th…
Native American Girls Describe the REAL History Behind Thanksgiving | Teen Vogue
6 Native American girls school us on the REAL history of Thanksgiving. Still haven’t subscribed to Teen Vogue on YouTube? ►► http://bit.ly/tvyoutubesub CONNE…
Naelyn Pike, Danny Grassrope, Bobbi Jean – all young native activists I met at a recent summit, Naelyn is still in HS – could be cool for her to FB live or skype into your class she’s awesome! you couod prob google some of her videos
Also I would check out the stanford history education group’s “reading like a historian curriculum” — it is a teaching framework for getting kids to use “historical thinking skills” and simulate historian’s practices — namely using primary sources to view history as the construction of narrative. they have a lesson on the battle of little bighorn that is GREAT
U.S. History Lessons | Stanford History Education Group
The United States Reading Like a Historian curriculum includes 71 stand-alone lessons organized within 11 units. These lessons span colonial to Cold War America and cover a range of political, social, economic, and cultural topics. Each lesson includes a 1-2 day plan that outlines the lesson’s activ…
Thanks to the Disney film, most students know the legend of Pocahontas. But is the story told in the 1995 movie accurate? In this lesson, students use evidence to explore whether Pocahontas actually saved John Smith’s life and practice the ability to source, corroborate, and contextualize historical…
yes 1491s for sure you might be able to find some that are approps
It is November 17, 2016. And tomorrow, on Friday, November 18,2016, I’ll be walking into a neighboring district’s HR office and signing the paperwork to be a teacher for a 4/5th grade combo classroom.
It’s interesting. I feel positive about starting at this new place because the adults seem great and the kids are sweet and diverse. I’ll also get to teach all the subjects (except science, which is my weakest area anyway), and I’ll get to really have some autonomy since I’ll be in my own self-contained room. Lastly, the school itself is just lovely. It’s been the smallest school in Berkeley for the past 100 years and it smells woodsy and fresh.
I think the difficulties of the job (combination, coming in mid-year, first time in elementary) actually will provide me ways to really test my theories regarding classroom management, organization, and ultimately, pedagogy.
Things I’m excited to return to:
Kohlberg’s Levels of Moral Development
developing classroom ownership
Things I’m excited to expand on:
thoughtful blended learning roll out in math
Things that are new, but I’m excited for…
Morning Meetings (a la Responsive Classroom)
Guided Reading / Reader’s Workshops
Calkins-esque Writer’s Workshops
having LESS instructional time and MORE enrichment
It has been a strange school year. I’ve taught straight, from 2012-2016 without taking summer breaks. Then, this past year, I took my first summer break (which was AMAZING — new teachers should try it! I think I found the key to sustainability!). And yet, instead of moving, I ended up staying.
It was definitely a drift-y period, and even now, I need to remind myself not just the generic “God is in control”, but speak to my soul: Yes, my God is sovereign. Yes, He knows my desires. Yes, He knows every minute detail of my heart. Yes, there are ways I can glorify Him and ways that can throw all this in His face. At the end of the day, even though I have been whining, I don’t want to get into a habit of complaint. After all, this was in His timing, and how can I know all the workings of an infinite mind?