Saturday, December 18, 2010

Side Note

I forgot to mention that my wonderful fiancĂ©e Logan took a day off work (which is big for him!) to come spend the day with me in the classroom. He got to see my children perform in the winter show, be there to help me pass out our gifts, eat lunch with all the teachers, and celebrate when the children got their gifts from Santa.
I think after seeing what he did on Friday he will understand a little bit more of what I talk and worry about. He loved being there interacting with the children and even recognized several names from the homework he had helped me grade over the quarter. The children loved asking him questions and of course thought it was "grosssss" we were getting married!
I am so thankful to have a man willing to take the time to come into my other world. He really is the best!!!

- Miss Hansen

A Whole New Look on Gifts

Some of the classes (like mine) are fortunate enough to have a companies sponsor their class. Our class is sponsored by some amazing people at MetLife. Every week, 3 or 4 of them come in to work with our kids, either playing games or working on school work. While the monetary aspect is very nice and important I think the program is great because it gives our children role models- especially the boys!

About a month ago we ask the students what they wanted from Santa for Christmas. We sent the list to MetLife and hoped the would be able to find people to "adopt" a child to buy the gift.

Friday afternoon our MetLife Friends walk into the room with 12 pizzas. The kids go wild!! I had several eat 3 or 4 pieces and they all inhaled their juice box and cookies. There was a buzz of excitement bouncing between every child and adult in the room. We then sang our Christmas songs to them and in walked Santa!!
 He brought a gift for every child in our class. I helped Santa with some of our more "unique" names and watched as the kids waited patiently to open their gift.
For the second time that day I was in tears. Watching them, knowing that this would most likely be the only new gift they got this year, and their reactions... well I can't even come up with words to describe how it felt.
I wouldn't go so far to say that as a kid I got whatever I asked for, but I was always sure their would be a few (if not several) gifts waiting for me under the tree every year. But these kids, well they left with 2 new books, a stuffed animal, and a new toy (that they "really really really wanted") and for all you know this will be the Christmas they remember. The Christmas where they felt loved and appreciated. The Christmas where they knew that someone was listening when they talked, whether it was Santa or not, someone cared.

As I read over the post I know that it doesn't bring justice to the moments I saw.  But I also know that I will try my best to not fly through opening my gifts, tossing them to the side, in a "yea yea yea" kind of matter, to see what comes next. And I hope to teach my own kids that they are special and are lucky to have the life they do, that not every child gets to experience Christmas like us and to be thankful for every gift under that tree.

So this year as you open your gifts, even when you don't get what you "really really wanted", just remember someone took the time to show you they cared.

- A Very Very Thankful Miss Hansen

Breath stopping moments

I wish I was allowed to post a video of my children's faces when they received their brand new hard cover Dr. Seuss book and matching stuff animal. As they tore open the wrapping there was a mix of smiles, shocked looks, and pure amazement. I was asked "is this all mine" and "do I get to keep this" about a million times! One of our newest boys (who I referred to in the post about hungry kids) jumped up and ran to give me a hug. He looked up at me and said "Miss Hansen this is just want I wanted for Christmas". I started crying and had goose bumps all over.
I was so pleased that they liked the gift and were so excited to start reading. I sent them back to their seats and told them to read/ look at the pictures with their new reading buddy. Once again only a picture really gets across how precious they all looked. Some held up the book to show the pictures while others said their pal was reading to them. It was a great way to start the day!!
- A Teary-Eyed Miss Hansen

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Amazing moment

With the help of some amazing people in my life I had the opportunity to give several children new winter jackets this week. I choose students based on their needs, two were wearing zip ups as their winter coats and the others have very large families so they don't get new things very often.
I have had to change my expectations of the children since I started working here. A few got very excited for their new winter wear but most of them were speechless (which for my kids means a lot!). I know that they are excited and appreciative, they just don't always know how to show it.

Thank you to all of you who have helped me! You have made a child warm this winter!!
-Miss Hansen

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hungry kids

We just got a new child last week and along with him came a new issue for me to experience. It seems that this child is not getting much, if any, food other than what is given at school. He tries to eat the breakfast served (usually gram cracker) all morning. We tell him to put it in his cubby but he is constantly sneaking a bite. He has also been getting in trouble the last few days for eating food of other children's plate at lunch.

I know from personal experience that when I am sitting in class hungry I don't pay much attention to what is going on. Really I sit there and watch the clock till lunch. So for him to come in hungry and have to wait till lunch to eat, then still not get enough food, its no wonder he is a little scatter-brained.

If his mother would get him to school earlier he would have time to eat breakfast which would help a lot! But yet again that would require that his mother to be more responsible than any 7 year old can really control. It's really hard to watch a child sneak food because they are hungry and have to tell them to stop.

I don't know how to solve the problem but I know its hard to watch!

-Miss Hansen

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Surviving this...

Let's be honest everyone says teachers should treat children equally and all but every teacher has a favorite child. One that they tend to gravitate towards, whether it's because they are smarter, or funnier, or more social, or in my case, more "messed up" than the other children. 
Today I found out my favorite child was moving schools. From the beginning his mom had been saying "she was going to get them out of here" and while everyone hoped it was true it was an "I’ll believe it when I see it" kind of thing. So today when I got a call from the office that she was here to get his things and he would not be returning my stomach dropped. I sat at the desk and watched the door hoping she wouldn't come. She instantly saw my face and gave me an "I’m sorry" kind of smile. 
As I helped pack up his things my eyes started to fill. To others this child was the "troubled child" who had behavior issues and didn't know what was going on. But when he was with me (and yes my teacher will be the first to say that I babied him) I got to see that smile, with two missing front teeth and breakfast crumbs on his face.
He would tell me stories (true or false I'm not sure) but it was clear that he had seen things that NO seven year old should know about. And his hugs, boy he gave the best hugs! He would come-in in the morning and wonder over to me and just stand there waiting for a hug. At recess he often stood by me rather than running around. I'm not sure if the other children picked up on it or not but every teacher knew that he was my favorite. 
After his mom had left I had to leave the room. Like a little kid I grabbed my phone and went to the teachers bathroom to call my mom in tears. While I want him to be safe and happy and all I knew that if/when he moved schools he would get named a "problem child" and would slip through the cracks. He was already very low but to be the new kid at school, trying to make friends, he is bound to only get more behind. I feel like I understood him more because we knew what was going on at home, so when he came in all pissed off and angry we knew it was because his dad was back in jail. How can another teacher give him what he needs not knowing what he has seen and gone through?
Now I know it's possible I’m being a little melodramatic, but it is so hard to see him go. He needs consistency in his life. He needs to be around people (teachers) who can make him see how smart he really is and help him excel. He needs to know that there are people looking out for him, who care what he has to say, and who genuinely want to help him. 

I am going to have to figure out how to do my job the very best I can and give the children everything that they need... with out being attached or I'll never survive this. It can't be that every time one of my children leaves I feel so heart broken like this. This sucks!

 “Teaching is like a love affair, if you don’t take it seriously it’s no fun and if you do take it seriously, it can break your heart”.

-A very sad Miss Hansen

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"I'm thankful for nothin"

We started talking about what "being thankful" meant yesterday. We gave the children several examples and then went around the room and wrote on the board what each child said they were thankful for. We came to almost the last child and she responded with "I'm thankful for nothin". I just kind of stared at her for a second. My teacher responded with "really there is nothing in your life that you are so glad you have?" "No" this went back and forth a few times and she didn't come up with anything. I was just blown away. Maybe she didnt understand what being thankful meant, but the rest of the class understood and she heard several examples.

- a VERY thankful Miss Hansen!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Almost every has heard of a SMART Board. This is the most popular brand of interactive white boards. I did a big fundraiser to try and get some money for my class. A lot of the money went towards art supplies but we also put money towards a Mimio, which makes our basic white board interactive. It requires you to have a bar connected to your computer that records the movement of the provided "mouse pen". We use a projector to project what is on the computer on to the board and then we can manipulate the screen.
We have been using it a lot for morning meeting, which has included making a class graph, doing calender, weather, money, and place value. Some times the children get to do the manipulating which they really like.
I have also used it to display pictures of the new fruits and vegetables we try, an author study chart, as well as graphing.
So far I really like using it. We are going to try and mount the projector so we don't have to use a rolling cart or worry about the cords. I want to try and use it several times through out the day and in several areas of study.

So far so good! There is so much to learn and so many ways to use the Mimio!!

-Miss Hansen

Music Hall

Last week my class went to Music Hall for a field trip. Even though most of my students were bored and some fell asleep, I thought the experience was great. To see their faces as they walked into the building was priceless! The huge chandeliers above and the thousands of light bulbs lighting the huge theater was beautiful. I heard "Miss Hansen look at that" and "Miss Hansen look at this" a million times!
We listened to the Cincinnati Orchestra play 3 pieces. The conductor taught the children how to move their hands properly to conduct the orchestra, which was nice because it helped keep their attention (most of them).
I know the children might never hear this type of music again but I do think it is important to expose them to different cultures.

-Miss Hansen

Halloween surprise!

As we discussed the Halloween parade we would be participating in on the Friday before Halloween I had several students tell me "their mamma couldn't buy a costume". They were very worried they would be the only ones walking in the parade with out a cool costume. That night I realized that I was "allowed" to be pretty much whatever I wanted for Halloween and never really had to think if we could afford a new costume.

We have a company that sponsors our class, which includes coming in once a week to work with the children. It is a way for the children to get some one-on-one attention as well as have successful role models. Well the day of the parade they came in with a huge bag full of costumes!! The children who didn't have a costume got one and to top it off they got to take it home! I have never seen them so excited and appreciative before. Over all they didn't care what their costume was they were just excited to be dressing up with the rest of their class. We had several costumes left over and they let my teacher keep them for next year.

I was so happy for the children I almost cried as I helped them get dressed. It really put things in perspective about how lucky I was growing up. I am going to start going to discount stores to buy the costumes when they go on sale this year!

-Miss Hansen

Alternative seating

We talk in classes a lot about providing students with different forms of seating. A lot of classrooms have "standing" tables and short tables where the children can sit on a rug with no chairs. We also talk about having a "quiet" corner where they can read with comfortable chairs or beanbags. I love the idea that the children have other option rather than just sitting in the plastic chairs. I have three students who stand to do their work all day long but we are constantly telling them to sit down "and get to work".
I would like to be able to tell the children they can sit on the rug to read or in a corner but I don't know how to teach that procedure for classroom management. Teachers who read my blog- how do you set up your room to provide alternative seating, and how do you teach those initial procedures???

-Miss Hansen

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Most Wanted!

Today the Most Wanted Band (a band made up of police officers) came to the school to sing songs about being drug free. It was kinda like the DARE program. They took well known songs and changed them to be about anti drugs and violence. The children got to get up and dance around it was hysterical! They had a total blast!! I got "forced" to take part in the dance contest which my students found very entertaining.
They were able to say that the point was to "not drink alcohol or do drugs and if you are in trouble tell a teacher".

I was really impressed with the program! I love giving children the opportunity to get up and move!

-Hot and Sweaty Miss. Hansen

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sounding out words sucks!

All too often we tell children to "sound it out" when they come across an unknown word. Pretend you only know the sounds of each letter and you are learning to read. Sound out the word "Star". A child would sound out "s-t-a-r"= "stare" because for them "a" has two sounds short and longs. But in reality in words like "star" the "ar" is one sound not two. So adults would say "s-t-ar" but not children!!!!

The more effective way to help them work out unknown words would be to expose them to "chunks" of words. In the example above, "st" is a blend and "ar" is a chunk. "A+r" makes the pirate noise "arrrrr", "o+r" says "or" which is why if you look at the sounds you hear in "For" you would say "f-or" not "f-o-r".

So its my new goal to not tell children to sound out a word but rather look at the structure of the word and to look for parts they already know!

-Miss Hansen


I have made "flubber" before several times. I can remember doing in preschool (Yay Mrs. Dorothy!). Flubber is corn starch, glue, and water. Today in science class we made "Oobleck" which is just corn starch and water. If you have not experienced something like this before its a must!!
 The point is to say whether or not the final project is a liquid or a solid. The Oobleck pours and flows like a liquid but you can make it hard and in a ball like a solid. It is a non newtonian fluid!
 All you have to do is mix corn starch with a little water until it is hard and you can't make an indent in the mixture. Scrape some out and see how it works.

Super easy to make, cheap, and easy clean up!!

-Fascinated Miss Hansen!

Monday, October 11, 2010

O For Subs...

I started my morning walking into the school and the receptionist said "o Allie I am so sorry" i was confused and said for what. "For your sub... good luck today!"
I get to the room and begin setting up for the day. After several students had arrived an old man (70+) comes into the room. He asked me to repeat my name several times but was unable to say it in the end. The children found this quite entertaining!
The morning went really well. Things went smoothly and I felt under control. After lunch we came back into the room and I was going to tell the sub I was going to use the restroom when I turned to the back of room to find him asleep. Seriously! The teachers next door died laughing and replied "I'm impressed he made it this far!" I was shocked to find that everyone knows this sub does nothing and is simply "a warm body in the room" yet he is still responsible for 23 children!!

I realized how important it is to have good plans and lots of extra work for subs who do nothing but pass out papers.

-Miss Hansen!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Do you REALLLLY listen??

Kids say the craziest things. From "my mom kicked a cat last night" to "my sister has a mustache" and "tomorrow is my grandma's birthday" they love to tell their teachers everything that (to them) is important in their lives.
I am assuming I am not the only person out there that is guilty of nodding and saying "o wow" as the child is trying to tell me something random in the middle of a transition or while i am doing seven things at once. I feel bad sometimes but there is just not enough time in the day as it is and the random comments just make me stressed out and off track.
So lately when it is an inappropriate time for them to tell me things, i ask them to wait until recess and then i would love to hear about whatever they have to say. But when the time comes  I have really been working on listening to them while they talk to me and making meaningful comments.

I think its a great idea to start the year by explaining that there are times during the day that are not appropriate times to share stories. But then give two or three times during the day that are good times to share. For example at recess or after lunch.

-Miss Hansen

This is not Art

In my opinion our art program is a sad example of art class. We have "Art on a cart" meaning the art teacher travels from room to room. We have art two days a week every other week for 40 minutes. They usually start with a book and then draw a picture from the book. In classes we discussed that an important aspect of art is letting the children form their own conclusions and make their own creations. Yesterday they read a book about a ghost and then the teacher taught them how to draw a cat. First I dont know how i feel about her teaching them to draw the cat rather than letting them draw their own version of a cat, and second she provided them with Halloween colored crayons. I understand that sometimes we are trying to teach about what colors things are, but i like when children get to choose their own colors! Pumpkins are most commonly orange but sure they can be purple.
 I think i have these opinions because growing up in a charter school we were free to make our own choices and were really never told we were "wrong" when using crazy colors. Art should be a time to express yourself and be creative... not fit the mold.

I remember doing wire sculptures, making clay pots, personalized masks and so much more when i was in school. I would love to find a way for these children to have similar opportunities!

-Miss Hansen

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Breaking the cycle??

My dad brought up an interesting idea to me the other day. When I talk about a lot of the issues that I see in my classroom and at our school, a lot of it can be related back to the family life and the influence of parents. So the question is... If children in poverty level families attended a boarding school, would it help break the cycle of poverty??

After spending some time really thinking about it I came to the conclusion that it would most likely have a positive impact on their education. Issues like frequent absents lack of homework help, negative views on education / authority, and basic needs like having somewhere to sleep and to eat would be avoided in a boarding school situation. These students would be living in a safe environment and would be able to focus on their education rather than "surviving".

Every educator and other fields have heard of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The basis of the theory is that there are eight stages that humans go through to achieve "self- actualization". The bottom 4 are the most important aspects of life, the bottom being the most basic things that many people never really think about (where to sleep, being warm, what to eat, etc..) The next is feeling safe at home, school or work. Then it becomes more emotional, forming positive relationships, feeling loved, having good self esteem etc. If the bottom 3-4 levels are not met then a person has difficulties paying attention and getting things done. But for many of my children the bottom 2-3 levels are often not met, so to expect them to sit in class like good little children and learn how to add and how to write their "b" and "d" correctly is just not realistic.
So the next time you think to criticize a child (who lives in unfortunate circumstances or not) and you just can’t understand why they are behind or why they can’t do multiplication think about this: what else do they have going on in their lives? Try sleeping on the floor, having fruit snacks for breakfast, or being cold all day long and see how well you do your job.
-Miss Hansen

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Important things I learned today

Don’t repeat- when you repeat their thoughts you teach the other children they don’t need to listen to their classmates- just the teacher.

Emotion drives everything!!
Actions reveal a lot

Start with a compliment- starting each conversation with a compliment will make a child much more likely to listen to the “criticisms”. For example if you a child who can only do the first sounds of each word start with “wow look you knew the first sound of every word! Awesome! Now let me show you how to stretch the word to hear more sounds”

Idea on discipline: being humiliated in front of your class will only make you pissed off and not make you want to learn. Which will in turn cause more undesirable behavior. There is a reason behind what they are doing! Why are they doing these behaviors? Attention, too difficult, aggressive? What can you do to avoid the situation?

“Take a break”- take a breath, think about the problem, and come back to the group. If it continues there needs to be a consequence- if you cant sit on the rug then you will sit on a chair behind the rug but you wont be able to participate because you cant use self control.

“A bug and a wish”... "It bugs me when you…. I wish you would…"

Apology of action (when “I’m sorry” isn’t enough)- make a card, play at recess, etc…

Is what I’m doing making a difference?? Does taking recess away, make a difference? 

My brain has so many new ideas! -Miss Hansen

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thank you for reading!!!

I am so sorry but I don't recognize the screen name "Sparkshap". To whom do I thank for all the advice???

Disney movies are scary!!

I have always been a chicken when it came to scary movies. My siblings make fun of me for leaving movie theaters before because they were too scary! This weekend I watched Disney's new princess movie, The Princess and the Frog. I thought it was a good movie (and you cant miss Disney's attempt at adding diversity to their list of princesses) but it was scary! It takes place in New Orleans and the "bad guy" is a voodoo man, "The Shadow Man". The Shadow Man sends dark shadows to find the frog prince and it is creepy as the shadows spread through the city!
This is certainly not the first scary movie by Disney. Think... Cinderella is a slave to her evil step mother, Snow White has to run away before her heart is cut out of her, and Jasmine is pimped out to Jafar. I don't think most children pick up on these plots. All they see is pretty girls with perfect hair, great bodies, and beautiful clothes!
So do children subconsciously like evil scary stories... or does Disney do that to entertain the parents forced to watch??

-Miss Hansen


In the past week there have been two shootings in the neighborhood surrounding my school. A week ago there was a rifle found in a car, when the police attempted to arrest the guy there were shots fired. Last Friday there were shots fired one street away from my school around lunch time. There were two shooters at least one was injured.
A teen was shot and killed this weekend. Police say it was a drug deal "gone bad". The boy was addicted to heroine and apparently came to the neighborhood for drugs.

I was at my school when the first shooting happened last week. We locked down the out side of the building and had to delay dismissal until the police were gone. It was crazy to know what was happening just out side our doors. The violence that is going on is happening in the neighborhood around us not in the school (which makes it a little better). But they are saying that they have not had this amount of gang activity in the area or the school in a long time. There have been a lot of problems in the upper grades and for the first time (in awhile) teachers are feeling "shaken" and some not safe at school. Its really hard to work and teach if you dont feel like you are safe at your work place.
There are a lot of comments on the news sites regarding the area and the shootings. Some comments sound ignorant but others (unfortunately) make a valid point.

I know I am going to come out of this experience with much more than just a college education.
-Miss Hansen

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Birth control and Seat Belts... Are they a "cultural thing"??

As i watch cars pull out of the parking lot of school i notice that the majority of children never put on their seatbelt. to make it better there are like 4 kids sitting next to each other in the back seat. There are children just old enough to sit up in the front seat just hanging out. Why would you not put a seat belt on your child???? 
Other question- Whats up with having babies every year????? I have one child who has 6 other siblings the oldest is in the third grade and to top it off... mom is prego again! There are several families that have a handful of children and the parents aren't even thirty.

So my question.. Are birth control and seat belts a cultural thing???

Learning Styles

I read an article yesterday from my KDP (honor education society) about helping children discover their individual learning styles. There are apparently 20 or so elements that effect ones ability to learn. Some of these include the lighting, background noise, group size, and timing of the day. Over the years I have been able to discover some of these aspects that definitely affect my learning. For example I prefer light from a lamp over large over head lighting, I like background noise and I can’t learn anything between the hours of 10PM and 8 AM. If my homework isn't done by ten or so it’s just not going to happen.
Knowing how much these things effect me makes me think of all the aspects in the room that might hurt a child’s ability to learn. I have one child who becomes very frustrated when children are talking around him and he is trying to work. Another child likes to stand by his desk while working. Most of a time it’s not a problem until he starts making noises and disrupting the class.
At UC we talk about ways that teachers can make accommodations to the room to help children learn. Having alternative chairs, quite areas, areas with background noise, lighting, and working in different size groups are all ways to help make the room the most desirable environment for each child. This is a great idea in the perfect world and maybe possible in some schools, but at my school making the environment cater to the children is not a priority. I wonder how I might set up my classroom differently knowing the learning style needs of my class.

-Miss Hansen

Fresh Fruit and Veggie Program

I am currently watching some of the faces I have ever seen made by my children! Every Tuesday the children get to try a new fresh fruit or vegetable thanks to a Grant we receive. Today we are trying a "tropical fruit medley" consisting of mango, papaya, and pineapple. We started with the mango and I watched a little boys face look like he was trying sludge. His nose wrinkled up and his lips got all funny looking. Others looked like they were experiencing something super awesome!
I absolutely love that they get the opportunity to try new fresh fruit and veggies because most of them have no idea what it looks like if it’s not in a can.
They just tried the papaya and I got a lot of "ewwww that’s nasty" Pretty funny!!

- Miss Hansen

Monday, September 20, 2010

Apperently I'm too nice

So on the first day of school one of the other teachers told me the best advice she had ever received was "don't be nice in the beginning be as mean as you can be, because if you start out being nice your screwed". I understood what she was saying and it made sense so I tried to be strict on the rules and show the students they couldn't walk all over me. But being me I try to make connections with students and get to know them to form a relationship. I have three boys and one girl in particular that needed some attention and needed a teacher to help motivate them and help them form some self confidence. I would say 2 of the 4 have been named "trouble children" so they often get blamed for bad behavior before the teacher even knows what’s going on. So I wanted them to feel like I was on their side and they could trust me.
It has worked wonderfully for the most part. The children feel comfortable talking to me when they are frustrated and seem to really trust me.
I like to do silly things with the kids. Like to teach the difference between flexible and rigid during science we made our arms wiggle and then be hard. I think kids enjoy the silliness and sometimes remember the information better. But when it comes to getting everyone’s attention and getting them all quiet I seem to have screwed myself! I was trying to get their attention to tell them what to do for journal and they just don’t shut up! I found my self really frustrated and feeling defeated. I like my style of making them laugh and doing full body movements, but I can’t compromise my authority.
Where’s the line???

- A somewhat defeated Miss Hansen

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Its like a whole different world... less than 20 miles apart

After I left school yesterday I went to pick up the boys that I often babysit for. I have been to school a hundred times but never really noticed how different it was compared to my school until having now. When I walked up about 10 minutes before they were going to be dismissed, all of the parents (either sitting in their fancy cars or standing by the play ground) were chatting and eagerly waiting for their children. As the kids came out they ran up to their parents, most giving them a hug, and often throwing their backpack on the floor and running off to the play ground. As I looked around most of the parents are mothers, with their spandex shorts on and jogging strollers.
There are five buses pulling out and as I looked in the window I noticed that 4 out of the 5 buses had no more than maybe 20 children on them, one only had about 7. Do we only have one bus because most of our kids live close enough to not need a bus or is it funding?
While I watch the boys on the play ground playing Star Wars I realized that I am not near as worried about them talking about guns because its more likely their imagination or something they have seen in a movie, than what they see at home in person.
At their school parent involvement is school. It is not uncommon for parents to volunteer on a weekly basis in the classroom. I'm not sure if most of our parents could tell you the names of their teachers let alone where the classroom is located in the school.
I felt a bit of resentment and bitterness towards these people as I watched the blonde hair, pointy tail mom swapping recipes on the play ground. They have no idea what the city looks like a mere twenty miles away. Not that I think that they should "feel sorry" for my neighborhood, and it probably wouldn't even change how most of them live their lives, but from the outside it looks like they live in their own little happy white, upper class, suburbia bubble.
I found an appreciation for the siblings at my school when I saw two boys fighting like crazy over something dumb. Not that my kids don’t do that for sure but the majority of siblings at my school are protective of the younger ones. The older sisters often ask if the sibling has homework or if they were misbehaving in class. There is a need to feel protected and to have some consistency in life, which I think is often found between siblings.
            I don’t want to sound like I’m just bitching and complaining but its hard when you see kids everyday who don’t have a lot and then see those who have everything they want.

-Miss Hansen

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ADHD.. real or over diagnosed??

In class we learn about how over diagnosed ADHD can be. It tends to be the "explanation" for a misbehaving child. I have both sides in my classroom.  I have one child who's mother insists that she get tested for ADHD because "she likes to talk in class". I know this child well and yes she can be distracted and she does talk occasionally in class but I would not say that it is so much that she has ADHD. I have learned that some parents have alternative motives when it comes to having their child observed because if the child is diagnosed ADHD they will receive money through the Supplemental Security Income.

"Getting awarded social security benefits for ADHD

For children (3-18) to receive SSI disability benefits based on this disorder, they must---in addition to possessing 1. marked inattention, 2. marked impulsiveness, and 3. marked hyperactivity---have at least two of the three following conditions, resulting from ADHD:

1. Marked impairment in age-appropriate cognitive/communication function.

2. Marked impairment in age-appropriate social functioning.

3. Marked impairment in age-appropriate personal functioning.

For each of these marked impairments (conditions resulting from ADHD is a good way to think of them), there must exist supporting documentation. " (

If there is a working parent in the house one child is eligible for between $2,000- 3,000. For household where the income is not earned they are eligible for $1,000-2,000.

It seems so crazy to say that parents tell their child to misbehave and act out because they want the money.. but it happens.

I have another child who is definitely ADHD! When he takes his meds he gets his work done and might act out some but nothing more than a typical first grader. When he doesn't take his meds... well we know its going to be a looooong day! He is all over the place! He gets nothing done and has a really hard time controlling his body! I have never seen a child who benefits more from medication!
I think its really important for teachers to help children who need it get help, but also watch out for when parents are trying to misuse the system.

-Miss Hansen

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Letter "N"

"Give me a word that begins with "N"
"nap" "nit" "knock" "nipples"  (Miss Hansen trying not to laugh)
"Those are all good words!"

-Miss Hansen

Monday, September 13, 2010

Solids Science Unit!

I started my 4 day unit plan on solids this morning. Today's goal was to introduce the idea of solid, liquids and gases. The intro went over really well. They told me "how they knew" it was a solid/ liquid/ gas and what they already knew about them. Then I gave them each a metal screw and a plastic tube. We made observations about the two objects and described their properties. The children knew a lot more properties than I had expected which was such a nice surprise! We had a great discussion and everyone participated. Then I wanted them to write down 2 properties for each object.... this didn't work! Even if they could describe to me what the properties were, they couldn't read it off the list on the board. So we did it as a group and it worked a lot better!
Tomorrow they will get five more objects and learn some more vocabulary for properties. After today I am changing my plans for tomorrow because I had planned for them to do a lot of writing on their own. Instead we are going to do it as a class and have most of it be discussion. I learned a lot about having a back up plan and being able to go with the flow today!!

-Miss Hansen

Friday, September 10, 2010

I am so frustrated!!!

I have a little boy who does NOTHING. Like literally does nothing all day long. UNTIL everyone leaves for specials then he gets everything done in like 7 minutes! So he is very capable of doing the work he just doesn't. To make it better he says "Miss Hansen" 1,000,001 times a day! When we put a note in his planner yesterday he said his mom hit him in the stomach. So now we don't want to send notes home because he gets beaten but he does nothing! So how do you motivate him? Well we attempted to bribe him with a toy car (loves cars) and maybe it worked a little but he still got close to nothing finished!
I feel like he is just going to sit here all year then end up repeating next year. What a waste of time for him, his family, and his teachers!

-Frustrated Miss Hansen

"I'm gonna get out of this neighborhood"

Logan and I had a "debate" the other night about the ability to "get out" for  families in neighborhoods like mine. His opinion is that everyone (no matter where they live or the color of their skin) has the same opportunities. He would even say that blacks have more resources than whites because companies and schools are trying to meet requirements for race and gender.
My point- when you live in these conditions with your parents not working, spending time in jail, and having babies all the time its hard to think of what "getting out" even looks like. Most of these children don't have any idea about what it takes to get to college or what having a career (other than McDonald's) looks like. Its hard to get a good education if you miss school a lot or are moving around from one subsidized housing neighborhood to another on a yearly basis.
I think it is easy for upper class whites to say "if they would just get an education and a job and stop living off the government they could support themselves." But you really don't have any idea what you are talking about till you understand what they are going through. Don't get me wrong I would love to not pay for their housing and their food, but it is hard to break this cycle!
Having role models that are successful, law abiding, contributing citizens are SO SO SO important!!

-Miss Hansen

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What does "famous" mean??

Child-"Someone who everyone knows"
"Tell me someone who is famous"
Children- "Beyonce" "Obama" "You Mrs. ____"
"Well you might think I am famous because you all know me... but do you think everyone knows me??"

Its pretty sweet to be compared to Beyonce, Obama and Michael Jordan!

Birthday Circle

I got to sit-in during another teacher's "Birthday Circle" yesterday. I had never heard of a teacher doing this before! She invites the parents in and any siblings that attend the school. The child sits in a chair in the circle and gets a crown with paper candles on it for their age. The teacher lights candles (for real!) and sings a song while he blows out one at a time. Yesterday the boy turned six so the song went something like "there are 6 candles he blows one out now there are 5..." and so on. After all the candles were blown out she lit them again and he got to pick a song for every candle. He could pick any song they have ever sung! He chose the Hokey Pokey, ABC song, and Captain Kind. If you have never heard of Captain Kind it is a comic book charter that fights bully. These kids knew every word to the song!!

After the birthday circle (which lasts about 30 min) the children wrote "happy birthday ___" in their planner and the parents passed out cupcakes and juice.

I personally don't need to do such an elaborate thing for every child's birthday (they have 2 more birthdays next week) because it took up a lot of time and if a child's parents were unable to bring in snacks or come in it would be very obvious. But I definitely liked giving the child some special attention for their special day!

-Miss Hansen

Quality Worksheets

We do a lot of worksheets here. Most of the curriculum uses programs such as Voyager for reading and a math book. We do seat work every day which is usually a worksheet that they do then color, and some times they have to cut and paste. At UC they don't like worksheets at all! I think that they are good and necessary to use sometimes as long as there is other types of work also.

This morning the children had a math worksheet to do after they wrote in their planner. We are working on basic addition using pictures. This worksheet had ____ + ____= for the children to fill in. But the pictures that they were supposed to be counting were not lined up with the lines at all! The first group was over the first line and the second was over where the = line is. This was super confusing for them! They new to write the number of pictures on the line so we got 2+6=4 rather than 2+4=6. It was obvious that this was not a quality worksheet and should not be used again.

I wonder if other schools use worksheets as much as we do??

-Miss Hansen

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Guns, guns and more guns...

Over a period of about a week it was brought to our attention that one of our children's family (the boy, mom, and his siblings) were threatened by his father who just got out of jail at gun point. The dad threatened to kill the whole family right in front of his kids. The cops were called and the dad was arrested. Turns out that mom is on house arrest and is somehow managing to care for her five children? To top it all of he spends time at his grandmother’s house who hits them with shoes when she is mad. But don't worry "When she his me I hit her back so hard she cries"- First Grader

Over the weekend one of my children’s grandmothers was shopping before a family BBQ when the store was held up at gun point and the grandmother was shot. She died.

I learned about gangs from watching movies. Growing up my idea of a gang was something like from West Side Story, where the boy falls for the girl but cant have her because she is from the "wrong" family. That may be true and all but around here being in a gang is a bragging right. Students get in trouble for wearing anything gang related or talking about it. But the sad part is when the little ones are bragging about their siblings getting in trouble. It is hard to stop the cycle if they think it is cool to be getting in trouble.

We have had 2 incidents where there were suspected guns in the school. The police come and do random searches for the upper grades. It was scary the first time I saw them with their wands in the hallway but now it doesn't seem so weird. Last week we had a girl bragging about having a knife to little kids, she was over heard in the hallway and I believe was suspended. It is shocking how often students are suspended or getting disciplinary actions! Seems like on a weekly basis there is a list :(

-Miss Hansen

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Please comment!

I would love to know what you think about what is happening in my school, my thoughts, or if you have an idea!

"You should brush your teeth before you go to the park and your grandma's house"

We are learning about our community and the places and workers that are important in our community. During our discussion yesterday the children made a list of places they like to go in the community. Our list included: School, grandma's house, park, Golden Corral, zoo, and the swimming pool. It was very cute to listen to hear what places they find important in their neighborhood. We also talked about the workers that work in the community. They decided the most important workers are garbage man, doctor, our principle, our security guard, and their grandma. (If you haven't noticed the answer "grandma" is very common!)

When we started talking about the dentist we discovered we have 3 students who have never been to the dentist. Many of our children have cavities already :( When we asked them when they should brush their teeth we got "before you leave the house to go to the park or to school" "before you go to grandmas" "when you eat". It took probably seven answers before we got to "every morning and night!!" My teacher made them raise their right hand and repeat "Mrs. ** I promise to brush my teeth every morning before school and every night before bed". They laughed when she said she didn’t like having stinky breath coming towards her at her reading table.

It seems silly to go over what a doctor and a dentist do but it is important for them to learn about personal hygiene!! It is very obvious who got a bath last night and who didnt... sometimes I have realllly stinky kids!

-Miss. Hansen

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New drug house on the block??

There is a rumor that the new drug house in the neighborhood is home to one of my children. I have to say that there are a few that we wouldn't have been as surprised to hear this about but this little girl is more or less "normal". She has her moments when she doesn't pay attention or doesn’t follow directions, but what first grader doesn't!

Yesterday a child came in the room and excitedly told me "Miss Hansen me and my mom sat outside the jail last night (my mind is racing with "omg what is he going to tell me") cause my uncle came home" I turned to my teacher and my jaw dropped. She steps in and says something like "wow I bet he was really excited to see you". It took me a minute to regain composer until she said "that’s not an uncommon thing to hear in the morning". I feel like I say this a lot but... That shit really happens??????

Today a child told me "my dad drank too much beer to sign my homework" (picture me melting). I say "I’m sorry that happened but it’s your responsibility to get your homework signed". I know that’s what we have to do because if we said "ok ill count it" every time a child said "my parent was drunk" or "my dads in jail he cant sign it" we would have missing homework a lot.

It is so hard to not feel sorry for these kids and let them get away with things. I experienced nothing even remotely like what they do at that age. I just want to hug them and say "it’s going to be ok, your parents will get their shit together soon" but that won’t help anyone. These kids need someone to care enough about them to make them try their best and help push them to excel.

It is going to be very difficult to not become emotionally wrapped up in all of these children's lives!

-Miss Hansen

When I feel like no one is paying attention... She raises her hand!

I have a little girl who came in the first day of school looking totally lost. It was her first year here and she was very shy. She had trouble following directions and was taking FOREVER to get anything done! We were very frustrated in the beginning and I was worried it would be like this all year. I started working with her one-on-one more, helping her stay on track. It took maybe two days before I realized she was very very capable of getting everything done she just needed a little motivation. It was obvious that she was getting no praise or recognition at home and she craved it.

As she started to get work done faster and faster I pretended to be shocked! I would say "did you do this by your self?? Realllllly??" She looked so proud with a huge smile on her face like "duh Miss Hansen!"

In the last 4 days she has become much more social, raising her hand to answer questions and "writing" sentences on her work. Every day I walk into the lunch room and say "I know I say this every day but I am just so excited about ***". It is awesome to see a child so excited and proud of herself!!

I love that I have created a bond with her and she feels comfortable with me. She even came up to me yesterday and asked for a hug. :)

On the other hand I have another child who is not getting anything done. I don't even know what he does to occupy his time but he is always the last one finished. To try to motivate him we have started saying things like "if you don’t finish you don’t get to go to gym". I hate to take away time like that especially when so many students need those specials as a way to express themselves but nothing else seems to work to motivate him.

-Miss Hansen

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Power of Proof

It seems fairly basic to say that if a child is being beaten, not feed, not bathed or doesn't receive affection at home it counts as neglect. If only it was that easy.

When I heard stories from teachers about having children in their class that were clearly being beaten I asked what they did about it. Across the board they responded with something like "we document everything! Every time a child comes in and we worry you need to let someone know. But in reality it is almost impossible to prove that anything is happening. It is extremely hard to prove that a child needs to be removed from a home." One teacher had a child who was not being fed or bathed and beaten but the mom talked a "convincing story" so it took an entire year to have the child removed from the house. Other incidences have included a bug infestation or no way to clean clothes both of which affect the other students in the class.

Today I had a child come in with a large bruise on his cheek. (Let me point out you either have to be really looking or the bruise has to be pretty bad to see it through black skin.) When I asked the child what had happened he responded with "I don't know". Having lived with a little brother I fully understand that boys run into things, jump off of things, and get hurt on a regular basis... but my mind immediately went to "who did that to you". Is it because of the neighborhood we are in or because I have seen some of the parents or because I am just paranoid and am looking for it??? It has to be so so so hard to be a teacher and know a child is being neglected but not able to help them.

- Miss Hansen

Monday, August 30, 2010

A little about my children...

97-98% of the area is African American most living below poverty level. 98% of our school is on Free Breakfasts and Lunches which is extremely high! Most of our children live in the neighborhood and walk to school. We have one regular bus and three special needs busses. We have a lot of students on Individualized Education Plan (IEP). An IEP might be made for ADHD, learning disabilities, speech delays or behavior issues. In a "typical" school having one student in any classroom in normal, I have four in my room alone.

Another common problem in our school is students having asthma. There is a large power plant of some sort nearby so I wonder if that has an impact on the community’s health. It is also not uncommon for the students to be exposed to second hand smoke so that could also affect them.

"I'm hungry!!" Students are supposed to get to school in time to eat breakfast before going to class and are also provided with lunch. But if they come to school hungry during the week, they are probably hungry over the weekend too. So how do we make sure children have food to eat when they aren't at school?? Power Packs!!

Power Packs are sent home with eligible children on every Friday. They include food like canned chili, fruit cups, power bars and Horizon Milk (doesn't need to be refrigerated so it lasts longer). I had never heard of a school doing something like this before but I was so thankful when I knew the children were being helped!

-Miss Hansen

"I made it through my first week of first grade!"

As my children wrote in their planner on Friday "I made it through my first week of first grade!" they were so excited! I loved seeing them excited about being at school and feeling like a big kid!

Last week we introduced the "stretch and slide" game which is used to sound out words. It goes something like this... "I'll do the first word, watch me. My word is "ran". What’s my word? "ran" Get ready, "r/a/n". Your word is "if" What’s your word? "if". Get ready, "i/f"." As the students say the sound you put a finger up to show a new sound. This was confusing for me at first because we were doing words like "shoe" which have four letters but only two sounds!

Next we did rhyming words. We read a poem and had the children clap when they heard a word that rhymed with "sam". I liked this because it kept children’s attention and got them involved with the reading.

"You will be suspended for any gang activity, fighting at school, profanity, cell phone use (if you are searched and have a cell phone on you it will be taken). Gang affiliation includes wearing head bands or bracelets related to a gang." This was the message presented by the assistant principle during the bully assembly. The fighting at school, profanity, and cell phone use is pretty common among most schools, but I have never had a gang talk during an assembly before! Teaching students about safety in the neighborhood and at school is another important part about living in this area.

Question: How do you monitor children's restroom use??

I have several students that seem to use the restroom 4+ times a day. Most of them I think are sincere, but it is hard to tell when they ask so many times. I hate making children sit in their desk or wait if they need to (as my children say) "use it". I know I can't concentrate if I need to use the bathroom so how can I expect them to learn if they need to??

-Miss. Hansen

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Things I've Learned So Far...

Day 1:
It is ok to correct sentences like "we is in August"
Most of my students can count well by ones, some by fives. All but 2 know all of their letters and sounds (happy surprise)

Day 2:
Students who do not have their planner signed have to stand on the "line" during recess (which is 15 minutes). In all of our classes at UC they stress the importance of physical exercise and giving children the opportunity to get some energy out. So my immediate reaction is I don't like to take away their recess time. But I discovered quickly that taking away recess is just about the only thing that makes them upset and get things done. So where is the line between giving them time to blow off steam and teaching them about responsibility and consequences??

In the staff lunch room a kindergarten teacher told a first grade teacher that they shouldn't call home regarding a particular student. Confused I asked "wait why". She responded with "the last time i called home the mom came to my classroom, pulled her belt off, and said "i told you if i ever got a call i would whoop you in front of your friends" as she proceeds to hit the child in the back with her belt. THAT SHIT REALLY HAPPENS?!?!

Day 3:
Read the book "Ish" by Peter Reynolds. It is about a boy who doesnt like his drawings but his sister likes them because they look "ish"ish. For example his vase looks "vasish". We talked about how it was ok if their drawings and spelling was "ish"ly done. Having read this book came in handy when we had several students erasing every other letter or pictures because it wasnt perfect!

Question: Is it bad to compare children to each other? The textbook answer- Yes. In reality... I dont know. It is so easy to say "i like how ____ is doing ___". Children tend to respond and it helps model good behavior. But at the same time i feel like it is always the same children being compared to each other.

Day 5:
The work we had planned for math was finished way faster than expected! Definitely important for teachers to have a backup plan!

At our school you walk 2 squares from the wall, eyes forward, with your arms crossed. In the beginning this sounded very ridged and a little silly, until I experienced walking in the halls with multiple first grade classes! It is a great management technique! Today, I had a child tell the teacher no to walking in line in the hallway. She gave him a warning, then counted to three, and he completely ignored her! She took him out of line and he tried to pull out of her arm. When they got back to the classroom she talked to him out in the hall. He said he knew he was wrong and didn't want her to call home. When the teacher asked why not he replied with "cause my dad will be mad and whoop me"- (how the heck am I supposed to respond to that???)

It was an eye opening first week!

-Miss. Hansen

First Post

Welcome to my blog!
Here I intend to reflect on my experiences working in an urban school in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have started my senior year at The University of Cincinnati in the Early Childhood Education program. I started my experience last week when I came in to start setting up the classroom with my teacher. It was interesting to see how to set up the classroom and prepare for teaching all of the basic routines. I will be working in the class all of Fall and Winter quarter working my way up to being a full time teacher winter quarter.

I will try to write often, which shouldn't be hard because I am learning new things every day with these kids!

-Miss Hansen