The Coop

Last weekend we spent the ENTIRE weekend building a new coop for our chickens.  We had some friends who really helped us out and we got a lot accomplished.  We still have a long ways to go but we made some more progress this weekend.  Joel and I have absolutely no building experience so this was definitely eye opening for us.  It was so much work and at times it seemed silly that we were doing all of this for a bunch of chickens, but I think they will be happy and they will be a lot more safe in their new digs.  Here’s a few pictures of the work that we did on it last weekend.  Be warned that none of our friends can take a picture without making a face.

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Meggan feeling super accomplished after doing some sawing.

Meggan feeling super accomplished after doing some sawing.

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This happened near the end of day one.  It ended up being a double rainbow and I got way too excited about it.  I attribute that to the exhaustion.

This happened near the end of day one. It ended up being a double rainbow and I got way too excited about it. I attribute that to the exhaustion.

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The chicks hanging out in the middle of the construction zone.

The chicks hanging out in the middle of the construction zone.

What a beautiful couple.

What a beautiful couple.

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Seriously though... he's so handsome.

Seriously though… he’s so handsome.

Our super scientific measurements.

Our super scientific measurements.

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We have done a lot more since these were taken… I will try to snap a few pictures soon!

Crazy Chicken Lady

Our chicks are getting huge! We are planning on building a new chicken coop in the next few weeks and I am a little nervous about it.  We have never built anything in our lives and have basically none of the necessary tools.  Thank goodness for good friends who can help us out. I’ll be sure to document the whole process! Here are a few pictures of them from last weekend and some pictures of our chickens roaming around the yard today.

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He says he doesn't like the chicks... I don't buy it.

He says he doesn’t like the chicks… I don’t buy it.

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Their feathers are so pretty!

Their feathers are so pretty!

Our grass is so long because it's been so rainy.  The chickens have been loving it.

Our grass is so long because it’s been so rainy. The chickens have been loving it.

She's just now getting speckled feathers on her head.

She’s just now getting speckled feathers on her head.

Kids Are Annoying

A teacher telling you that kids are annoying….What?!

Yes, it’s true…even I can sometimes be annoyed by the behaviors of children.  I would argue that this is true of anyone that has their own kids or works with children on a daily basis.  Although behavior can be irritating, any good teacher knows that behind any disruptive, annoying, crazy behavior is something that the child needs.

This post was inspired by a blog that I found weeks ago, but I didn’t have enough internet access to write a post so I’m glad I found it again. ( http://pickanytwo.net/annoying-things-toddlers-do-that-are-actually-good-for-them/#_a5y_p=2415588)

Although the post is based on toddlers, my preschoolers do these things all the time, too. Some of these things are based on scientific studies, while others are all about changing your perspective.  There was one specific point that the author made that really stuck out to me.

I think that most parents and teachers can agree that temper tantrums are some of the most trying times when dealing with children. Often times, the reason the child is upset is totally lost to us as adults and they can seem to go on forever.  As the author of this blog noted, tantrums are only a young child’s way of expressing their emotions.  We have figured out how to control our emotions as adults and we find better ways to express how we’re feeling, as it isn’t really appropriate for us to lose our stuff in the store because they don’t have our size in the perfect pair of shoes (I can’t be the only one who has felt that way at some point!).  Especially for boys, it’s so important to let them know that it’s perfectly okay to express when you’re upset.  Boys are conditioned from a very early age that emotions are feminine, that it isn’t okay to cry, and that if you’re upset you keep it to yourself.  I’ve witnessed the emotional turmoil inside a little boy who was made fun of for showing emotion and it was really heartbreaking.

But how in the WORLD do you outlast a kid who’s throwing a fit about not wanting to wash his hands or who doesn’t want to put on his shoes? Giving kids time is a theme that I come back to again and again when making decisions in my classroom.  We expect kids to be able to just turn it off and move on to the next part of the day, but it just doesn’t happen that way.  Children need time, and a lot of it, to process things and especially to process their emotions.  If a child just can’t be reasoned with, it’s best to send them to a quiet place to get themselves under control.  When they enter the emotional part of their brain, reason goes out the window until they can return to a more balanced state of mind.  I have children who can get to that place on their own and I have others who need a teacher and a hug to be ready to get back to the bustle of the classroom.

So, can kids be annoying? Yes! The important part is to remember that those irritating behaviors are often an important part of development.  Just like with anything else, kids usually just need patience, understanding, and the right frame of mind to thrive.

Bad Days Are the Best Days

After having just one of those days, I realize that sometimes those are the days that are the most valuable.

For my first class of preschoolers I got lucky and I have a wonderful group of 14 kids that for the most part have been a dream.  Through the first month of school I was floating on air because of how smoothly things were going and I counted my lucky stars that I felt so comfortable and happy with my class.  Of course, like in any preschool classroom, we have now had our share of crazy, stressful, totally overwhelming days.  As the kids have gotten more comfortable with me and their peers we have really gotten down to the nitty-gritty stuff.

After just having come back from a break, the kids were happy to see each other on Monday, and some have totally melted down by Wednesday.  It’s hard to go from spending days with your family to a room full of 14 preschoolers where the energy level is almost always on high.  There are kids with busy parents, parents expecting babies, siblings that have recently arrived, and other major life changes going on.  Life is really hard for a preschooler who knows that something big is about to happen, and as adults who have learned through practice how to deal with these things it’s easy to forget.

With all that said, today was one of those days.  Crazy and loud, full of crying, running, ear-splitting volume and a lot of really awesome experiences.  We took the bus to campus (we are affiliated with the local university, so we have access to a wonderful campus with lots of things to do) and brought a bin of Duplo LEGOS with us to represent some of the buildings that are located there.  The kids made some amazing things and also enjoyed running around in the grass before it got too cold and we headed back to the bus.  Transitioning into and out of these big trips is always hard, but today it just seemed extra chaotic.  The afternoon was along the same lines, and there was one child who had just had a really hard time all day long. Their behaviors challenged me throughout the day and it doesn’t feel good when you feel like you’re on a kids case all day long.

It was one of those times where you don’t realize how stressed you are until you step out of teacher mode at the end of the day.  With parent conferences looming, which includes relatively intensive portfolios and scheduled time out of the classroom, feeling like I didn’t do my best in dealing with behaviors all day, and still having to stay on top of daily planning it was enough to have a teary drive home from work.  If you ask my fiance I cry about “everything”, but it was just a lot of small things added up that left me a mess on my commute.  As I drove to the other side of town, I had a moment to reflect on why the day had left me so upset.

I hold myself to high standards and when I don’t feel like I’m doing my very best it’s hard for me not to beat up on myself.  Now that I’m in the position to be a mentor to others I feel like I always need to be doing the right thing to set a good example for my staff.  But even though this keeps me accountable it’s a double-edged sword because it makes me hate when I feel like I’m not doing a good job.  Days like today, though, help me to appreciate these times as a learning experience rather than just a time where I could have done better.  Rather than dwelling on behavior that is causing problems in the classroom, I was able to step back and think about what is really going on with that particular child and find some more constructive ways to deal with it with the help of my wonderful bosses who are always there to lend suggestions when I need them.

In the day-to-day bustle, it’s really easy to get stuck in just saying “please stop doing that” or “you need to keep your hands to yourself”, when really kids don’t take much stock in that. As adults we certainly don’t like people telling us to stop doing something without a good reason, so I don’t know why adults always seem to be doing this to kids.  One thing that I really love about where I work is that behavior is never viewed as just a problem to be dealt with and something that is punishable, but instead is looked at a signal to us that something is bothering or challenging a child.  All they need is support and assistance from us to be able to better deal with what’s going on.

Although sometimes these days seem so tiring and overwhelming, I’m glad that I have them.  They make me think a little deeper about my practices and seek solutions that may have otherwise not been as obvious to me. These days really make me appreciate the days that are filled with nothing but fun, easy-going time together. As a first year teacher just a few months into it all, it’s been a lot to soak in and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with everything that I’m learning.  I don’t like learning through mistakes, but those are the times that I’ve grown the most as a teacher.

Even on the rough days, though, I really wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Here We Go!

Hello to the very few that may actually read this!

My name is Rhianna and I am a first year preschool teacher.  I graduated last Spring with a bachelors in Elementary Education and a minor in Early Childhood Education.  Whether it be fate or just a huge stroke of luck, I’ve landed as a lead teacher in the place that I worked through most of college.  This place is near and dear to my heart and I consider myself insanely fortunate to have ended up there.  Our philosophy really centers around children and what they are interested in.  The power in my classroom really lands in their hands and they relish every opportunity to be independent, responsible members of our community.  I could go on for days about the way that our system of beliefs works and how it powers my teaching, but that’s for another post.

Here I’d like to be able to share what goes on in my classroom, see what’s going on in other classrooms, and occasionally share some things that have nothing to do with preschool! Really, it’s just a place to share my life and the things that are most important to me.  I hope you enjoy it!