a seemingly endless summer day…

This is a video that Sol put together of some fun at Lake McClure, Lake Folsom, and Ice House reservoir. We have been spending most of our summer in these or similarly beautiful places, and this video represents how they blend together into one perfect, seemingly endless summer day. I watch this and go to a different place, a freer place, and I am sure I will spend lots of time watching it when school starts again…

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The summer life of a substitute teacher

While Sol is in grad school he has been enjoying a very successful full-time substituting career. Unfortunately for him, unlike me (who thankfully gets paid in the summer) subs don’t make money when school’s not in session! In late August he will begin subbing again, and also be starting his counseling traineeship gig at “People Reaching Out”, but until then he has been bringing home some bacon with a couple of summer jobs.

The first summer job he had only went until July 8th, but he loved it! He was working (subbing and as an aide) for an autistic K-2 program in El Dorado Hills. He got to paint, draw, play games and work with some awesome kids, he even took them to the movies and the county fair! Since then he has switched gears entirely and has become a go-to maintenance guy at the Brown’s Ravine marina on Folsom Lake. He loves that he gets to be outside all day and is always doing something different. He likes the people he works with and it is the perfect quintessential summer job to bring him into the next school year. Here are a couple of shots of his beautiful work environment and him being silly after some serious manual labor.

Flashback Friday: When we were 18…

This is the first picture that Sol and I took together, in our first month of college. It was September 2001, and we were just babies, 18 years old! We were in a car on the way to a Reel Big Fish concert in Santa Cruz with his girlfriend and my recent ex boyfriend at the time, but those are just minor details… Obviously it worked out how the universe had intended it to, and I love looking back on how far we’ve come from our little baby selves!

One man’s trash is an art teacher’s treasure

One man’s trash is an art teacher’s treasure…

Rolling Hills art department (G1) is always gladly accepting donations of:

Newspapers

Magazines (especially with food or teenager appropriate images)

Old tee-shirts (for rags)

Plastic containers (from cottage cheese, etc)

Baby food jars

Toothbrushes

Plastic produce bags

Ziplock sandwich bags

Ribbons/string

Buttons

Collage materials: shells, plastic figures, trinkets, keychains, earrings, coins, jewelry, ornaments (think random “junk drawer”)

Fabric scraps

Colored paper/construction paper

Styrofoam meat trays

Masking tape

cardstock

Colored glass ball Christmas ornaments

Cardboard

Used (or unused) poster board

Large or XL men’s dress shirts, tee shirts or aprons (for painting)

Postcards

Old calendars

Art books or poster books

Landscape posters

Silk flowers

Interestingly shaped forms- vases, sculptures (for still life drawing)

Egg cartons

Clothespins

Toothpicks

Tissue paper

Gift wrap

Old greeting cards- Christmas, Valentines day, etc.

Plastic bins

Thanks for supporting the arts! –Mrs. Kamman

Please forward to anyone you think might want to get rid of some junk!

Teachers: It’s almost that time….

Back to School: Emotional Transition

By Heather Skipworth Craven

I remember with vivid clarity as a child and adolescent the three most dreaded words I could imagine hearing in late July and early August, “Back to School.” Walking through retail stores and seeing the Back to School banners, aisles upon aisles of school supplies, ridiculously early of course. I remember trying to quell my ominous thoughts of fear, while my stomach would begin its knot -tying routine. It never ceased to irritate me that the sales industry would begin advertising during the mere shank of vacation and regularly burst my summer bubble. I was painfully shy as a child, an adolescent and even as a young adult. Although I did posses a love of learning as I believe most children do, new situations for me were always comparable to scaling a steep, rather treacherous peak. Therefore, beginning each new school year for me was a huge emotional obstacle.

I don’t think it is mere coincidence that because of my own life experiences, I’ve been able to be offer empathy for my students and their many transitions. We, as teachers, spend a wealth of time preparing our classrooms, the external environment to meet the learning needs of our students. We spent meticulous minutes preparing bulletins boards, name-tags, creating schedules and management plans. We fine tune our external preparations with the utmost scrutiny. But, we often overlook the area of emotional preparation for our students. We assume our students will arrive fresh and eager as new robins to be willing recipients of our teaching efforts. I dare say that most children, even those who are naturally outgoing, need attention and support to acclimate to a new situation. Beginning a new school year for a child, be it a student just beginning his primary years or a high school student, would be comparable to an adult starting a new job EVERY year. Students are placed in a new environment, given new expectations, and surrounded by a new peer group. Children by their very nature are amazingly adaptable and resilient, but a new school year remains a huge transition.

So how do we as educators balance our preparations to include focus on the our students emotional needs? An ideal scenario would include unlimited time to devote to each and every student and offer an all inclusive approach which would meet his/her wide variety of needs. Unfortunately, reality often dictates that teachers are overloaded, overworked, and underpaid. We find ourselves taking on the additional roles of counselor, social worker, policeman, and parent. How then can we begin to guide our students through the emotional transition of a new school year? It is my belief that establishing a bond of trust with children lays the groundwork for both receptive and expressive learning. When we focus on a child and are genuinely interested in wanting to know about him/her, it not only boosts self-esteem, but it conveys a vital message that we earnestly care about what each of our students has to offer. The following are simple suggestions for activities to help students with the emotional transition of a new school year.

TALK with your students!

Not simply a generic greeting and general dialog with the whole class, but make an effort to speak to each of your students individually every day. Obviously if you have 25-30 students, this is no easy task, but even a few sentences specifically focused on a student will make a difference. Use the following guidelines:

  1. Use “door openers” that invite children to say more. Use phrases such as “Tell me more about that,” “That really sounds interesting,” and “Say that again.”
  2. Give the child your undivided attention. Don’t try to talk to a student while doing paperwork, writing on the board, etc..
  3. Look the child in the eyes, ask questions, and affirm responses. Comment on something that is specific.

For the first weeks of school, have a “question of the day” which would be a daily question for students to answer about themselves. They can do this as an ongoing project such as an “About Me’ book or journal which can be shared with the rest of the class. For young children, responses could be used to write a class experiential story, or display responses as part of a class “Bio Board”, or an “Introducing Us” bulletin board.

Cooperative activities such as dividing the class into small groups or teams serve several important purposes. Students will get to know their new peer group, learn to work cooperatively with others and feel like a valued member of the class. Encourage students to work together to set both short term and long term goals for themselves and their group. Use cooperative groups to teach team and leadership attributes, also character education.

Incorporate lessons on feelings, and give students a variety of self-expression outlets like art, music, creative dramatics, role play to adapt to a new school situation. Use the student’s creations as vehicles to discuss feelings, expectations and concerns.

Use role play activities to teach classroom procedures, rules and limits. Directly involving the student in an active role will help solidify expectations, rather than the student passively listening to information. Role play is also a great “ice breaker”. Students love to switch roles with the teacher and each other.

Know your students! If at all possible glean as much information about your student’s backgrounds as possible. Talk with previous teachers if applicable, research student records. A welcome call to parents either before the school year begins or during the first week can be very helpful. A general inquiry about the student’s summer can yield important information that can contribute to the child’s adjustment.

Be aware and attentive to children who show signs of anxiety and/or difficulties adjusting after the first few weeks of school. These symptoms may include withdrawl, isolation or no attempts at making friendships, depressed manner, noncompliance, acting out, serious separation anxiety in younger children, etc.. Keep communication lines open with parents. Providing a student with a secure and trusting environment will enable the student to open up and express feelings, and empower teachers to offer solutions.

Use the right words and provide a caring, secure and motivating environment. In this way teachers can help children feel good about themselves and excited about learning opportunities the new school year has to offer. Feeling worthy, having good self esteem and knowing what to expect in a new environment is critical to a child succeeding in school and in life. Achieving a balance of physical, mental and emotional preparation for students will clear a path for stability and success.