Friday, April 24, 2009

Rubber Ducky

Nestled up in a corner of the building where I work, I share a windowless office with a wild PT and an inventive teacher for kids in early childhood special education. The ECSE teacher works with students in their homes and in settings described as "natural environments." In her case, the NE settings are a kiddie gym and a daycare center connected to a hospital.

A week ago Friday she was trying hard not to giggle as she worked at her desk, but she finally let it all out and told me her secret. She had stopped by one of the local 99 cent stores and bought their whole stock of duck bills, or duck noses, which made loud duck calls when blown into. With glee she told me how her parents were going to hate her next week when she passed out the duck bills and showed the kids in the NE playgroup how to use them. Every time we ran into one another this week we exchanged a "Friday's coming" look and I teased her about how her time on earth was running out.

Well, today was the appointed day and I asked her late in the afternoon how it went. She described how she showed the students how to blow into the duck bills and how some had been successful after a few tries, and how some had a little practicing to do, when they got home!

Then she shared a remark from one of her parents and almost got tears in her eyes when she relayed a comment that made her week, maybe even her semester. One mom had collected up her child and gathered up all her bags to pack in the car and go home, but then paused and said, "I think we'll go by the lake and feed the ducks."

My teacher friend said, "This mom really got it."

We're all hoping that our work is occasionally appreciated by others and that we have made a positive impact on a child's life. Sometimes we're surprised by the joy of having someone else recognize our efforts. I'm glad my teacher friend felt that today.

I'll leave you with a blast from my college days, when my best friend, Cathy, and I used to sing this happy song on the way to/from our summer job. You can sing along, too, and here's a hint for the musically inclined--a plastic straw in a fast food soft drink cup works just great:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Everything is Gorgeous in Richmond

Hope everyone enjoyed their Easter vacation, or plan to enjoy the next week off from school. This is the first time I remember having a week free before Easter and it was very weird--don't I get next week off, too???
To burn off some calories after our big meal today our family enjoyed a walk through a beautiful Richmond neighborhood--Westover Hills. Hope these photos reveal even a little bit of how gorgeous the azaleas and dogwood trees are in the spring. I included a photo of a new bridge tunnel we discovered--even though I've been living here over 30 years! Who knows what new things all of us will discover as this school year draws to a close?
And the grapes? Well, if your students need practice drawing small circles or other shapes, grab a box of scented crayons and have them draw the fruit their noses detect. They can "cheat" and read the name of the fruit scent on the wrapper of the crayon. If your students aren't comfortable writing the letters on their own, they can dictate the letters to you and make sure you form the correctly. Have you tried writing with your non-dominant hand as you work with students? This evens the playing field and makes your letters look less "perfect," which is less intimidating to young writers.
For this photo, I drew the curvy line for the stem of the grapes and we took turns drawing the circles. Since both of us are right-handed we made sure to draw the circles counter-clockwise. Lefties get to draw them clockwise.