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Welcome Back!

I can't believe we're back at school already! I walked into my classroom this morning and thought about how fast our winter break went by. The list of things I was so sure I was going to do over the break took a backseat to all the "nothing" I did. I'm glad I didn't do any school related work over the break because I came to school this morning refreshed and ready to start.

The students all walked in this morning with smiles on their faces, excited to see their friends and myself. I was given many hugs and heard many stories about their time away from school. The students also needed this time off to recharge. The morning went by smoothly and I could tell the students were ready for school to begin again.

As an athlete growing up, I like to think of our winter break as our "half-time", where everyone looks forward to the second half with excitement and ready to take on any challenge. (Here's some information on how to evaluate your program at mid year.) The second half is my favorite. By now the students are used to the routine and have a strong background on all the basic skills for reading and writing. The skills the students learned over the first half make it an easy transition into the harder skills. I am looking forward to the students writing more. I always enjoy reading stories that the student come up with.

I just wanted to write to everyone and wish them luck on their second half. I truly think the rest of the school year will be amazing and filled with new experiences. (Read some tips for mid year motivation!) I don't like to do New Year's resolutions but after the hectic year I had last year I decided to make one. This year, I want to cherish the moments between myself and my students. Things were becoming overwhelming at times and I didn't enjoy the small moments such as my students making jokes or making it across the monkey bars for the first time. I want to take the time to enjoy these moments because to my students these moments are huge.

Classroom Set-up

The school where I work is different from the schools I attended when I was younger. The school where I am currently at is a modified pod school. Orginally built in the 1970s, the classrooms were actually one big room with four classes per pod. Students, teachers, and parents could easily walk from classroom to classroom as it was all open. Over time, chalkboards, bookcases and filing cabinets separated the classrooms as teachers felt students were easily distracted.

Now, classrooms are separated by floor to ceiling temporary walls. Classrooms are still connected in the middle and outside parameter of the pod. There are positive and negative things to be said about teaching in a pod.

I like the fact that at any given moment, I could peak my head over and know I have someone there for emergencies. We are in such close proximity that not only do I get to know my students but the three other classes as well. It is also great to know if I forget supplies I know I can borrow them from my neighbors.

Surprisingly, the noise in the pods does not bother me. I am bothered when other classes walk through my classroom to get to another destination. My students become distracted because of the added noise and movement. My classroom has no bathroom therefore my students are required to visit other classrooms in the pod. The pod contains two sets of bathrooms for eighty children. I have to be extra cautious when sending more than one student at a time. Even though I have been at this school for three years, I still get confused and lost when I visit other classrooms.

Next year we will be going to portable city as we will be gutting the building we are currently in. The process will take one school year (cross your fingers). It will be nice to have four solid walls but I will also be losing the closeness I feel towards my co-workers.

Special thanks to Ann Miller for helping me with the history of our school***

School Canceled due to Tropical Storm Fay

This may be the first "First week of school" that I remember. The past two years, the first week of school has been a blur. Thanks to Tropical Storm Fay not only do I have bad hair, but I realized how well 4 and 5 year olds adapt to unexpected events. My first day of school was Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday school was canceled because of the storm. Today (Thursday) we had our second "first day of school" with Fay still creeping by us.

I believe I was more rattled from the storm than my students. Besides coming to school a little soggy, it was like we had been in school for weeks. They remembered bathroom procedures, expected behavior in the classroom and the cafeteria, and dealt with having indoor recess. All while Fay was blowing at our door.

Around the time we should have been having recess, I did notice the students becoming antsy. I had many students ask about going outside. I might have to try some indoor rainy day activities. The moment they asked, I could see the answer click in their heads and then giggle at themselves. Even though we had a tropical storm outside, it was like it was another day for them.

Dismissal today was an adventure. It is rare to have a storm last this long in Florida. Our school started to flood and our entire dismissal had to change. The car rider ramp does have an overhang but with the winds blowing rain all over the place, it was useless. The car riders had to stand for over an hour closer to the school. I stood with the kindergartners and they handled the chaos well. Walkie-talkies and a megaphone were used to bring students to their cars. The kindergartners were sometimes afraid to raise their hands. Luckily we had five kindergarten teachers helping out.

Two out of the four first days of school went amazing. My students handle the changes like they had been in school longer, all while dodging puddles. For me, it was settling to put faces and personalities to the names on my list. I think after surviving Tropical Storm Fay together, the rest of the school year is going to be a breeze. 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Early Childhood Teacher are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.