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