Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Donald Trump: Are You Smarter Than A Kindergartener?

Most Kindergarten students come to school with a blank slate, eager to absorb all that comes their way. Through repetition and positive reinforcement from parents and teachers, our youngest students are introduced to academic and social behavior skills during this first year in school. Both skill areas are vitally important and must go hand in hand to be successful.

Can You Get Along With Others?
Through years of teaching, I have known Kindergarteners who were extremely bright, but unable to get along with others. As a result, they spent many days "sitting on the bench" for hitting their classmates or saying things that weren't nice. They just couldn't seem to understand that things would go better for them if they would just make a choice to "use their hands to help someone" and "think before they speak." But, by the end of the year, through much toil and trouble, I was pleased to say they were socially-ready for 1st Grade!

It is one thing to be intelligent and another to interface with people in a respectful and productive manner. Some feel intelligence is the sole key to life's success and strive to gain knowledge. Yet, if they are unable to communicate knowledge to others, this knowledge is worthless!

My Kindergarteners learned they need to get along with others to be successful in life. I challenge you, Mr. Trump, can't you just try to get along with others? What profit will you bring through your unsolicited insults? Are you able to "bite your tongue" and instead find something nice to say? My Kindergarteners recited, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!" Do you also believe this, Mr. Trump?

I taught my Kindergarten students that we are a "family," and as a "family" we have to work together without fighting. How does an unbridled tongue bring unity to our country? How will you be able to unite the Democrats and Republicans when you are President, if you can't even get along with your "own party?" Donald Trump, ARE YOU Socially Smarter Than A Kindergartener?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Our Politicians Need "Kindergarten Kindness!"

I am so very saddened at the way our political candidates for the most important office in our nation are handling themselves at our presidential debates! Very few candidates display "Random Acts of Kindness," and watching a presidential debate has proven to be more like watching people get beat up in a boxing match, which is the very reason why I never liked boxing!

Think Before You Speak!

We teach our little ones entering school for the first time the importance of communicating their needs and feelings in a socially appropriate manner, because other people have feelings, too. I reiterated numerous times to my students, "Think Before You Speak" as the words you say can really hurt! That being said, one candidate in particular has broken nearly all the "Classroom Rules" generated by good teachers in America's Kindergarten Classrooms, and there is no need to name him as his "fruit" speaks for itself!

During the last South Carolina Presidential Debate, I saw things being said that I wouldn't want my Kindergarteners to hear. The rude behavior exhibited by this candidate, as he hurled insults at both his competitors and the general public, is totally uncalled for. No handicapped person deserves being made fun of and labeled a "retard," and no woman should ever be called a "fat pig", "dog", "slob" or "disgusting animal!" And, that was just the beginning of the language we heard from this individual!

Our Kindergarten students are encouraged to take turns, share, converse, and play with other children without teachers having to remind them to use "polite language." Children learn at a young age that polite language does not include bragging, exaggerating, name calling (such as "liar"), and hurling insults at others to make themselves look good. Most assuredly, such rude behavior at school results in a "time out!"

Furthermore, using bad language anytime on the school grounds ensures our students a trip to the principal's office. That being said, it is a tragic thing when a presidential candidate either insinuates or speaks such forbidden words on public television during the prime time hour when our little ones are present as it only reinforces the idea that it is "okay" to speak this way!

Respect for others has been a character trait in every school I have taught and respecting others' views, opinions, and rights is practiced across all grade levels. Students are never allowed to bully nor threaten others either on or off the school grounds without consequences. They are taught to show respect for authority and especially people in high positions (such as a former President of the United States) and no war hero should ever be mocked! Haven't we heard such atrocities in our recent presidential debates?

Perhaps it is old fashioned, but our Kindergarteners are taught to act like "ladies" and "gentlemen." Such people would never lie or tell mis-information or stories to either draw attention to themselves or intentionally inflict emotional pain on others! They are taught to practice the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and are often asked, "Would you like to be treated this way?" When others are talking, our children are reminded to wait patiently, as it is disrespectful to interrupt, and other's opinions are valuable too. Usually, most students leave Kindergarten with a new awareness of  how to take turns, unlike a certain presidential candidate's recent performance at the South Carolina Presidential Debate!

Finally, our Kindergarten students are taught to be people of integrity. They learn it is important to keep their word and do what they say they will do. If they fall short of their goals and don't get their way, they are taught not to be bad losers and accusatory towards others. When they mess up and hurt others (as Kindergarteners are prone to do), they are taught to say they are sorry and try to make things right. Sadly, I have yet to see this happen in our presidential debates! There is much to be learned in Kindergarten as "no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together."

All I Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten!

Considering the current state of our political system, let me begin my  first post for the year 2016 with an infamous Kindergarten Poem written by Robert Fulghum:

All I Ever Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten

Kindness Counts!

Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

Here are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life.
Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch for traffic.
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seeds in the plastic cup. The seeds go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seeds in the plastic cup- they all die. So do we.
And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the very first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK.
Everything you need to know is there somewhere.
The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.
Ecology and POLITICS and sane living.
Think what a better world it would be if we all- the whole world- had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then laid down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in OUR NATION and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and STICK TOGETHER.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

It's December: Enjoy The Christmas Season!

While making a December 1st Christmas Countdown Chain with my young grandson, I reflected on how much fun the Christmas season is for a Kindergarten Teacher. It quite certainly is busy, and at times even exhausting, but nothing takes the place of the sheer excitement on a young child's face when he/she is busy with a Christmas project.

I'm So Proud Of My Countdown Chain! 
Hopefully, Christmas has not been eliminated from our public school system for the sake of "political correctness" and our youth are able to take a brief rest from academics to experience creativity in the many arts and crafts the Christmas season brings their way.

For those of you who have classrooms, enjoy this Christmas season with your little ones. As for me, I plan to have lots of fun with my grandson, making handmade gifts for family and friends, while creatively instilling in him the academics necessary for a successful transition into Kindergarten.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Superintendent's Email

It has been 4 years since I taught in a classroom of my own and I finally got an email today from my former Superintendent of Long Beach Unified School District!

I thought I would take a moment to share with you what it says:

Thank you, everyone, for a successful first day of school.  It was a pleasure to visit several schools and see such great looking classrooms and enthusiastic students, parents and staff.  We're off to a great start!


Christopher J. Steinhauser
Superintendent of Schools

Thanks For A Great First Day?

I guess this was supposed to make me feel good, but I ask you, "Would you enjoy receiving an email like this from an employer who laid you off after 21 continuous years of teaching?" Let me add to this a Master's Degree in Education AND a California State Bilingual (BCLAD) Spanish Teaching Credential in a state clearly troubled by illegal immigrants speaking the Spanish language!

Yet, I received an email today with the subject, "Thanks for a Great First Day!"  As Facebook asks, "What's on your mind?", I just had to tell the world in my Laid Off Teacher's Blog that this email adds insult to injury to a saddened teacher's soul.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

It's Time For A "Reinvention Selfie!!!"

Pressed with the dilemma on what to do with my time after working 21 consecutive years within the walls of an elementary school classroom, I pondered what I could do that would be productive and keep me busy at home. As I had always loved plush toys, I decided a great way to keep this "kid at heart" busy would be to open my own eBay Store. By doing so, I would get to "play with toys" as I did with my Kindergartners, meet people who share my interests, and hopefully make money to help pay our bills in the process. Little did I know how much time it would take, but it has been well worth it.

I soon discovered I had a large variety of items to sell with 21 years accumulation of teaching materials, parent and faculty gifts I had saved for "emergencies", thoughtful gifts my students gave me that I could part with, and loads of "things" I purchased for my classroom just because "I had the money" at the time. So, I have begun the very long process of weeding through those treasures. 

My Catalina Island Kindergarten Classroom

Are you a Teacher? I have started downsizing my classroom inventory as there is little hope of having a classroom of my own. You can visit my new eBay Books And Teacher Supply Store where you may find something you need for your Elementary Students. And, you can help out a Laid Off Teacher at the same time!

If you don't see anything the first time, please keep checking back, as I am determined to continue on this path of self reinvention! In case you are interested: For my resume, teaching credentials, more photos of my former classrooms, contact information, etc, please visit www.lindagant.com.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Does It "Pay" To Be A Substitute Teacher?

Does it pay to be a Substitute Teacher?  An article written by Allison Wert at Frontline Technologies states a contributing factor to the dwindling substitute teaching pool is "declining unemployment rate where more people are finding full time jobs teaching or in another profession." I know only too well that many laid off teachers in the State of California haven't found full time teaching jobs and, after years of waiting to regain a position in their own classrooms, they have given up teaching altogether and found full time jobs in another profession! 

Allison Wert cites another contributing factor as "individuals are less inclined to pursue substitute teaching work knowing that their hours may be limited by the district" due to limitations addressed by the Affordable Care Act. Such restrictions result in insufficient income.

While I admit to be ignorant of district policy limitations due to the Affordable Care Act, I do know an educator cannot financially survive on substitute teaching jobs. Think about what happens during the flu season... Teachers are called in to sub for colleagues who have succumbed to the flu and are too ill to teach.

Coughing And Sneezing Hazards

After working in a classroom full of coughing and sneezing students, the substitute teacher returns home to infect his/her household with the same influenza virus. Herein lies another problem .... as the day-to-day substitute teacher isn't a full time employee for the district, unlike the regular classroom teacher, he/she isn't fortunate enough to be covered on a district medical insurance policy. As a result, these substitute teachers are left with only a few options: continue to work in spite of how they feel, lose more work while waiting out their illness until they feel better, or pay unexpected money for a doctor's visit to help them recover. With substitute teachers, the "Affordable Care Act" becomes "More Unaffordable" every day!