Today is primary day in TN so I hope all of my TN followers have voted!
Wednesday was our first day of school!!  August 1 is early but we’ve switched to a balanced calendar so we start early and get out before Memorial Day!  We get a week off in October, 2 weeks for winter break, 2 weeks for spring and finish at the end of May.  The breaks are being used for intercession and each school had to create a plan for their intercession.  We are using ours for enrichment and remediation.  Of course, the district isn’t funding the intercessions, so we’ll see how it goes.
And now the first day of school.  This was my 7th first day of school and I still get so nervous.  I could almost start to hyperventilate when the 745 bell rings and I see the first ones coming down the hall!  I am so scared I am going to mess them up and scar them for life, not be able to control the class, or not be an effective teacher.   Does anyone else get scared on the first day?
Overall, the day went great.  If the day was an indication of the year, I am excited.  I had two criers and no pukers!!!  That’s a huge improvement from last year when I had 3 pukers.  Shew…
The first day is a zoo.  Kids coming in.  Parents with questions and forms to fill out.  Pictures being taken.  Taking kids to their seats.  Tears.  Hugs.  Chaos.  
I had one crier that I had to take from her mom so mom could jsut leave.  The little girl just stood in the room.  Eveytime I asked her to join she said “NO!” so I just left her alone.  When it was time to line up for brunch, she lined up and after that she was awesome!  At dismissal she ran and gave me a big hug!  And her mom told the principal she didn’t want her to have a male kindergarten teacher because she had never been around a male.  See momma, she likes me and she did fine!
My other crier is a whole different challenge.  She is an ELL student who speaks ZERO English.  She cried for a while and then ran.  And she ran twice.  The poor thing was terrified, as I would be in a strange place where I had no idea what this crazy dancing and singing man was saying.  I am not sure how she will do tomorrow on day two.  Suggestions??
We colored, we sang, we practiced our procedures and our rules.  We wrote our names.  They did very well with everything.  They did great with morning meeting and the greeting, walking in the hallway was good (the straight line concept eluded us because we want to look at everything!), and we even did a good job at brunch.  I have some smart kids with some amazing potential.  I have a feeling they will keep me on my toes this year, in a very good way!  As you can see from the picture, we have our work cut out for us.  But guess what, WE CAN DO IT!!  These kids are going to be the BEST kids in the school!  
I always have the kids write their name on the first day.  It immediately goes in the hallway as our first piece of “Mon-Star” work!  We do another chart just like this in December and May and display them in the hall so everyone can see just how far we have come.  
What are your ideas and activities and lessons for the first full week of school?  Also, am thinking of hosting my first linky party…would you be interested in a linky party about the funniest thing a student ever said to you?!  
And…to celebrate my first day back, I bought this awesome clip art.  I love the 80’s so of course I want the 80’s clipart.  And when I saw the Saint Bernards I immediately thought of my precious baby, Abercrombie.  He was the first dog I ever had on my own.  He was a giant spoiled lap dog.  He went to doggie heaven a year ago and I miss his slobbery face everyday.  
Here is your challenge:  what kind of products or activities would you like to see me create with this awesome clip art??!?!?!

Finally, as we start our school year, it’s hard to feel appreciated and respected.  I often question if I have an impact.  Very rarely do we ever get to hear from students about how we impacted them.  Last night, I was HONORED to get this text from a student I taught 7 years ago when she was a fifth grader.  
“You have know idea how much I love and respect you. You are the only teacher of mine that I have kept in touch with. You taught me so many lessons not just in school but in life. You were there for me during one of the toughest times of my life and thank you for that. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

That is why I teach.

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  • Reply Angela W. August 2, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Congratulations on surviving your first day back! Hooray for no pukers! Keep the faith with your ELL runner. Use pictures as often as you can and pair her up wit a buddy in class. You will be amazed at how fast she learns English.

    By the way, a funny kid quote linky party sounds great!

    Angela Just Love Teaching!

  • Reply Kelly August 2, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Congrats on surviving the first day ! No matter how many years we get under our belt, I think everyone gets nervous the first day. Our superintendent always says, “You are in the only profession where you get to start over every single year”. 🙂 I loved your sweet story about the text. We never truly know how far our impact reaches. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    First Grade Fairytales

    P.S. Love the Linky idea !

  • Reply Jeannie Partin August 2, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Greg – sounds like a fabulous day!!! I can imagine some of the looks some of those moms give when they realize their kiddo is getting a male kinder teacher. But good for you and our kiddos soooo need good male role models in early childhood!!
    I'm sure that momma will be singing your praises by the end of the year!!
    Kindergarten Lifestyle

  • Reply Maggie at MKC! August 3, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Greg, I love the way you write! I can almost imagine being a fellow teacher in your hall 🙂 Sounds very familiar! I had a little guy who came in and ran circles around the tables for 20 minutes every morning my first year teaching k. He eventually adjusted, and is one of my favorite little comics to remember 🙂 I am so glad the little girl gave you such rave reviews! I am not surprised. People have such notions about us, then the kids come through for us every time! Have a wonderful year!
    Maggie’s Kinder Corner

    My big slobbery pooch was a Newfie named Mars. I miss him too.

  • Reply Mr. Michelbook August 3, 2012 at 1:34 am

    I think 2 criers and no pukers sounds like a decent first day in kinder. Also, I would totally join your kinky party! Good luck tomorrow!

  • Reply Mr. Michelbook August 3, 2012 at 1:35 am

    I think 2 criers and no pukers sounds like a decent first day in kinder. Also, I would totally join your kinky party! Good luck tomorrow!

  • Reply Karyn August 3, 2012 at 2:15 am

    I'm so glad you had a great first day Greg!
    What a wonderful letter your former student wrote! So touching! It is for reasons like that, that we teach! :o)

    A is for Apple B is for Blog

  • Reply Miss Jones August 3, 2012 at 4:16 am

    What a heartfelt note! Those little things mean so much. As K teachers we don't often get to hear those things, and if we do it's only from the parents. I feel like I may never know if I've had an impact on my students. As for your first day, it sounds like it went VERY well!! NO PUKERS!!! Yahoo! I always feel so nervous the first day that I could puke! Your student that is ELL must have been completely terrified today. I have seen that look in the eyes of my ELL students before and it breaks my heart. Chances are tomorrow will go better because she may have been able to process the singing and dancing with her family at home. 🙂 I can only imagine how we must look to our students with language differences. I still laugh about my students that spoke Mandarin Chinese. I'm sure they wondered why in the world I felt the need to be affectionate all the time. My suggestion would be to use any pictures (like from a picture schedule) or photos if you have them to help her understand the flow of the day. Also, use as many gestures as possible. Maybe if she understands that she can still understand what's going on without understanding the language, she will feel more at ease? Now that you have time under your belt, you might be able to pick out a sweet child that could be her helper. My guess would be that she is just literally terrified? You will work wonders! Good luck!!! I'm going to try to get rid of that nervousness I started feeling while you were describing the first day of school! 🙂

  • Reply Ms. M August 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Wow! I am very impressed with the sounds of your first day. I'm glad we're starting late August so I can figure out what others do in the first few days of Kindergarten! I think after your post, my big challenge will be learning to reading Kindergarten writing and spelling! I hadn't thought of that till now, it's quite different than my seconds and thirds from last year!

    Your ELL student must have been so scared! I know my little girl who came to America in August, right before school started last year, had such a hard time. I heard her crying in the bathroom one time and she came out with such a brave face. I was fortunate to have another student who spoke her dialect of Arabic to talk with her and our ELL teacher is also Egyptian. I think the biggest thing she needed to learn was how to ask for the bathroom. One day during an extra bit of time, I went on the Egyptian Sesame Street website and listened to some songs from their program and her face just shined.

    I think the biggest bit of advice I received from the ELL teacher was to talk slower. Pictures of course are major, but if I'm talking a mile a minute (as sometimes I do), kids won't be able to connect the picture, word, and gesture together.

    Best of luck and keep sharing! I'm stock piling some of your ideas to best help me with my first Kindergarten experience!

  • Reply Michelle August 3, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I'll be starting my 22nd yr of teaching this year and I am still nervous every first day of school. First impressions are so important and the swarm of parents and all the different personalities can be overwhelming. I keep a notebook handy and constantly write things down. So much is said and done, especially with the parents there, that I might forget something or only remember it later. It has been a life saver.

    I have ELL students and I make sure to ask the parents to give me as much information on their child as possible and I always ask about their favorite things. We can usually connect there. I had a boy from Ghambia and that was a struggle. I kept him next to me for the first week. Always by my side, yes it is sort of favoring him but of all the students he needed it most. By the end of the week the other students thought there must be something special about him and befriended him. He really opened up once his peers accepted him.

    Thanks so much for the monster freebie, I have an idea in mind on how I'm going to use this. Cheers to a new year and new hopes!

  • Reply Kinderaffe September 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Hi greg,

    I am a new follower. Love your honesty! I taught K first for 7 yrs. then moved school and have taught 2nd for five years. Loved that, too. Now I am going back to K. I teach all boys now so I am excited and scared.

    My last year in K I had a boy who came from Germany with absolutely no English. Dad spoke it. Mom started learning it 6 weeks b4 they came here! Here is a list of some things I did that seemed to help!

    Sent home the books I read in class for the parents to read/translate. Think it helped mom learn, too.
    Sent home books I felt he should have known…Clifford, Dr Seuss…
    Made a photo book of things he may need to ask me – toilet, water, book, pencil… I used a dollar store photo album. I also had the English word there as well.

    I spoke Spanish to my class when he was out for his English language support. I felt it was important for the others to understand what he was experiencing. Boy did that work! The class was so helpful! I still remember all the celebrations! “he just said 2 words! A sentence!!!”. By the end of the year he was bi-lingual! They learn so fast!

  • Reply Kinderaffe September 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I tried to edit and it went…

    You have an amazing room and contagious energy! Your students are very lucky!

    Love your wedding cake topper! So exciting. Enjoy all this time leading up…

    Contact me with any questions. Your ell student will thrive in your room!

    One more thing, I did call mom on her cell 2times I think. Once was on the playground. He was so upset…and we worked to ut together. I found her to be a great support.

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