Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An Earthquake for the Teacher

So, today was our second day of school. It went really well...all things considered. There was a lot to consider though. The Summer lulls me into a state of forgetfulness. For some reason, though I spend 24/7 with my ten wonderful children I become convinced they will morph into different creatures if I create the correct environment. So I make plans for classes, and visualize our work space, and Fred dutifully builds rooms with bookcases and shelves and drawers stacked with supplies -and never once has it made them behave any better. 

After hours of creating a brand spanking new classroom, the preschoolers were all over it with  the crayons itching to draw on walls, floors, and any other surface available. Getting back into the swing of things is actually much more challenging than it appears. It takes me a few days to find the right balance to answer questions from so many different ages in a classroom. Do you go to the little ones first cause they have smaller attention spans? Or maybe the older ones since once you get them going they work well on their own? But the middle kids get bored and distracted if you leave them for too long....

You know all those lovely images you have floating around in your head of Little House on the Prairie schoolhouse? Scratch them out! It just isn't like that, at least not for me. My classroom is like the rest of my house; noisy, busy, hands-on, nitty-gritty learning. An honest peek into what I did today would look like this:

  • Helped Mary write her name and teach her the letters in her name
  • Tried like heck to help Mike remember the sounds to the letters he knows ( he seems to be struggling with letters and I am praying he is not my 3rd kid with dyslexia)
  • Kept Thomas from leaving the classroom for the yard and coaxed him into reading a few chapters ( which he did so beautifully)
  • Changed Sophie's diaper
  • Taught Joe a few new Math concepts and set him to work
  • Worked through Matthews Math lesson while simultaneously soothing his tears after having 2 more teeth pulled this morning
  • Gave Sarah directions to only color on paper
  • Reviewed JP's assignments check, check, check
  • 'Inquired' if Andrew and Peter needed proofreading ( only 3 classes till graduation!)

The rounds go like this for the better part of the day. Thankfully the older boys are independent, but they still need to know I care. We get through great lessons. We don't leave work unfinished. I am a goal oriented person and we hit our marks. I start every year wondering how I am ever going to get this information into their little minds, and then I find every year it happens. Maybe not perfectly, cause life is certainly messy, but it happens just the same. 

Homeschooling is a catch 22 for me. If they get things right I think to myself "Gee they seem naturally smart." BUT if they get things wrong I decided I am a lousy teacher. I wonder if school teachers ( official ones with all the directions and letters after their name that  I don't have) do the same? Thankfully I think love is the best motivator of all. I am motivated to help them excel if they are talented and also motivated to help them overcome if they are not. That comes from my heart. I hope it counts for something.

While I was finishing up schoolwork today, and preparing to head out to the library 'The Quake' came. Peter felt it in the same kitchen I did not feel it in. Joe walked out of the bathroom and asked why the toilet was shaking. Andrew, JP, Matt and myself all looked at each other as they exclaimed we'd had an earthquake. I would never had known it occurred as I was too busy checking over Joe's diagram of a cell. Fred was leaning against a tree in the yard where he was working only to feel it sway wildly. When he checked for wind he saw -there was none- and figured out it must have been a quake. 

(I will tell you that Paige -dear,dear, tricky little Paige- called within moments of the quake asking if I had experienced it as well and if I thought it had anything to do with the Zombie Apocalypse? Don't worry folks I was shrewd this time giving up NO information whatsoever. She'll steal no more tid-bits from me!) 

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