Saturday, February 1, 2014

Years 13 to 22: The Reid Years: Reid Wrap Up

By 1999, I was completing my tenth year teaching preschool at Reid. I loved my job and I loved being so close to home, but I started to think I needed a change. In 1998, I completed a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education, and as a part of the program, I got to know several teachers in other districts. I had also begun to do some observations for other teachers or programs, and began to help teachers problem solve issues they were having with students who were inattentive or very busy. I liked observing and helping other teachers, so when I saw a posting for an Education Specialist in Spokane Public Schools, I decided to apply. Needless to say, I got the job, but more about that starting next week!

Big Classroom
I knew the transition from classroom teacher to support staff would be hard. For twenty two years I'd been in a classroom with my own students. I was part of a school community and belonged somewhere; that would all change as a specialist with several schools to support. But what would I miss most, especially after ten years in one place teaching one grade level? Well to start with, I would miss the enormous room I had! A room big enough to ride trikes in on a rainy day; big enough to keep a climber and other gross motor equipment up all the time. A classroom big enough to do "fishing" with a wading pool, and big enough for obstacle courses related to our different themes. It really was the most amazing classroom!

Outside Activities
I would miss the beautiful college campus that provided us with snow for sledding in the winter, leaves to rake and pop out of in the fall, and a great fence to hang large sheets of butcher paper on for fly swatter painting in the spring. Other outdoor activities like field trips and walks would also be missed.

One of my favorite type of activities to provide the preschool children were messy, sensory ones. I loved a good mess! I would definitely miss activities like painting with pudding, ice cube painting through tempera, playing with "slime", etc. However, I'm sure that Kay, my instructional assistant for all of these years, was probably secretly celebrating!

Messy Stuff
After so many years of thematic teaching, I would miss gathering and creating new activities, songs, and costumes to expand each theme. Over the years I really honed my skills in this area, and by the time I left Reid, I had 27 well developed themes!
Thematic Fun

But most of all, I would miss the great friends and colleagues I'd made during those ten busy years. The teachers I worked closely with like Leslie Cicero, the support staff including the "Julies", and most of all, Kay. She put up with a lot of crazy ideas over the years, but never complained. That is a true friend!

Phil Snowdon and Antennae Painting
Now I'm going to end my Reid Years with a fun story. In the Cheney school district, the school board would meet several times a year in different schools. When it was time for Reid to host the school board (which seemed pretty often), our principal liked us to share "good news". Well as a preschool teacher with lots of cute preschool children, it seemed like I was usually the "good news" at these meetings. One of the last times I did this, I decided to share how we tried to incorporate sensory activities into our daily routines and themes. As part of the demonstration, I was going to have students from my room show how they could "antennae paint" to the music Flight of the Bumblebee. This was an activity that was part of our thematic unit on Insects and Spiders. The kids loved it because the music was so fast! It took some practice to dip the "antennae" (small pieces of sponge stuck to pipe cleaners) into the dishes of paint and then move their heads back and forth to the music! So I invited Phil Snowdon, our superintendent at that time, to join in. Little did I know that Phil had just had sinus surgery. This made doing this crazy painting activity where you had your head bent over the paper and shaking it back and forth, very painful. I felt terrible when I learned about the surgery. But Pil was a good sport and did the activity without complaining!

Next week begins a twelve year stint back in Spokane Public Schools. Stay tuned!