The (Orange) Badge of Courage

SOLSC Day 31

I signed up for this challenge after I declared I was breaking up with challenges. And here I am, at the beginning of my last post for the month. It wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t as hard as I imagined.

This brings to mind my “one little word” for the year. I wrote about this five years ago on this day, my first blog post. Synchronicity with a capital S! I’m not the one little word type. At least I wasn’t then. The past two years my one little word was create. I’ve been working on that in so many different ways, but my focus has been writing.

This year, I almost didn’t choose a word. But one found me anyway. I’m still not sure about how I fee about that one little word because words are anything but little. They can carry the heft of the world or they can take you to new, unimaginable places. And spaces. Like this one.

This year, the word that found me is courage. I gradually began posting more frequently last year during the shut down. Being locked in, writing was my way to venture out. People have always encouraged me to write. They see things in my words that I fail to see. S’s room takeover was my first pandemic post. Then I started playing a little and had such fun publishing a Videoconferencing Yearbook.

Chris Margocs of Horizon 51, a fellow librarian, shared this space with me and invited me along. I dipped my words in and here I am. She doesn’t know this, but the Day 2 Slice, You Know That One Friend? is all about Chris.

I typically shared my blogs on FB, but sharing it with others in this way taught me so much. There are so many talented writers out there. You all have taken me under your wing with encouragement and support. This is my first writing group other than those in my undergrad courses. That was a long time ago.

I plan to continue posting on Tuesdays. Seems easy compared to posting every day. I’ll venture out to join other writing groups. As an educator, work overlaps into my personal space and always has. That’s the nature of working with your passion. I’m ready to venture out on my own and break away a little. Carve out some writing space for me.

I’m no longer a classroom teacher, but I have always loved teaching writing. As a librarian, I have to figure out how to get a group of students to participate in the classroom challenge next year. Muster up the courage to do something out of the norm on my campus.

And that’s what words do. They give us courage and teach us about ourselves. Above all, they connect us to others through the power of a story.

Royal Keepers of the Kindergarten Kingdom

That’s what I call our kindergarten teachers because not only do they keep the Kindergarten Kingdom, they do a phenomenal job teaching the little subjects. I have no idea how they do it. It’s a gift. I don’t have such a gift. I didn’t even have it with my own kids. They’re older now, in the sweet spot of childhood, one who started middle school and a high school senior prepping for his exit exactly four months from now.

With the pandemic, my role at work has me popping in to K-5 classes every third week on a specials rotation. Other weeks, I’m conducting my read alouds and library lessons via Google Meet from my library office. Not ideal, but I get to see once class of students per grade level every day for a week. I’m more comfortable with older kids. I taught 4th grade for 4 years, made it through one year of teaching second grade, and spent a full dozen years teaching sixth graders.

I went into the kinder class today. The door to the girl’s bathroom was locked with two littles needing it asap. It isn’t my classroom, so I had no idea how to jiggle it open. I called the office for assistance. All of the adorable kiddles are coming up to me to tell me their good things of the day; a new student, an upcoming birthday-in summer, a birthday back in September, getting to sit at a friend’s table, a new Among Us face mask, new shoes, two boxes of school supplies, and puppies. Always puppies.

I began the class with one little online and the rest in the classroom. It takes me a few minutes to set up when I arrive, so we chat. I sensed the excitement, which I knew would be the case without sensing it. We started out with movement and my go-to, their favorite, Go Noodle. Until they all start complaining about how they don’t like the video I selected. Sure, there are better ways to involve them in choosing the video, but I didn’t want to get close to a Kindergarten Cop level of teaching and they were getting restless. I wore latex gloves, but the touchscreen doesn’t like them. Before I could start the first video, they all swarmed to the screen to help me. We went through about 10 minutes of movement and transitioned to a read aloud.

We read “The Cool Bean,” an adorable book about a garbanzo feeling awkward in front of old bean friends who were now the “cool” beans of the school. We discussed kindness, feelings, how it can be hard to be kind, the setting, and different kinds of beans. I printed an activity for them with the main character front and center. I popped a link to a Pear Deck of a similar activity for the student learning from home. Most were excited about getting to design new clothes and a setting for the garbanzo. Before I finished distributing the handouts, one little comes up to me, proudly showing me the work.

“I’m finished!” Red marker encircled the bean. 15 more minutes to go. “Well,” I suggested, “where is the bean? Can you tell me where the bean is and draw the setting?” Those were the instructions I gave before they began. When some asked if they could cut out their characters, I encouraged them. Some started retelling the story and others started drawing other bean friends.

I started packing up my cart to transition to the next class. The teacher returned and her littles eagerly shared their activity and story. I did it. I don’t know how, but it worked. I managed the Kindergarten Kingdom for less than an hour and there was no evidence of a Kindergarten Cop in sight.