Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Kids tell the worst Knock-Knock jokes.

Knock Knock!
Who's there?
Wrestler who?
Wrestler is going to jump on you.

But no matter how random or unplanned these 'jokes' are they always explode with laughter when they hit the punchline.

Knock Knock!
Who's there?
(Child looks around the room for ideas - long pause - big smile...)
Blocks who?

They didn't even finish that one and the whole table full of five-year-olds is hysterical.

Knock Knock!
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you going to come under the door?

Milk is coming out of their little noses, their hands are banging on the table, eyes wild with glee. I don't get it. Oh, orange is like aren't so at least this one is getting closer to making sense. Although why would I come under the door?

The jokes may be lacking but the intention is clear. These children want to have a good time and they know how to make it happen.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sebastien's Star Machine

Just before I journeyed off on my Italian adventure this summer I received a cylindrical package in the mail from that talented and good looking artist Sebastien.

Enclosed was a drawing, pictured above, entitled "The Star Machine" (I regret that I am unable to present it here in its glory but I cannot seem to figure out a way to photograph it without casting shadows - click here for a better view of the original Star Machine.)

It is a challenge to try to find the words to describe his work but I will give it a go. His approach is a mix of the wit and innocence of A.A. Milne (author of Winnie-the-Pooh) and the macabre charm of Edward Gorey.

It is children's art that is not entirely for children. Funky parents with a sense of humor and magical, believing souls like The Little Prince can appreciate the simple and off-center masterpieces Sebastien creates.

I have been gushing about his stuff for a while now and I think my friend Joy put it well when she said she can easily envision The Star Machine or some of his other works like this or this or this hanging on a child's bedroom wall.

They are pictures that are at once familiar and friendly but also new and exciting.

Sebastien is an artist and author waiting to explode on the big scene. And if all is as it should be in the world he will one day be a multi-millionaire with book deals (check out his ABC series), merchandising contracts (who wouldn't want one of those cute stuffed bears with detachable arms) and speaking engagements across the country.

But until that time I am going to have The Star Machine framed so I can proudly hang it in my classroom to remind my students that anything is possible.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


The first day of school is a busy, exciting and emotional day.

Especially for the children arriving in kindergarten who have had no prior experience with school.

"Where are you leaving me?!" they seem to scream accusingly at their bewildered parents who are themselves overcome with trepidation about leaving their precious little dear ones with strangers - even if those strangers are their new teachers who are committed to ensuring a joyous learning/growing experience.

Parents, let me assure you that your children are precious to us too!

Each child arrived with a family member (sometimes a few family members) and were welcomed into our fantastic, newly rearranged classroom. The larger tables and chairs from last year were exchanged for smaller versions, more rugs were added and areas were set-up for that all important activity - play.

We now have an expanded block area in a low traffic zone to allow student creations (cities, zoos, homes, buildings, etc.) to remain standing from day to day.

We have a dramatic play and stage space, complete with curtain, to encourage imagination (and to allow me a place to take a bow every so often).

A place for art, many comfortable spots for reading (on beanbags, on pillows, on rugs, at tables) but one new addition (and my masterpiece of which I am most proud) is a little fort-like peaceful dwelling created by mosquito netting and twinkle lights. It gives the illusion that you are in a private space but of course we can clearly see inside of it.

This area was a big hit today and it was a success even without me pointing it out and saying "look at this cool place!" Well, okay I did do some of that but it really is cool.

Things in our room are still a bit disorganized and will require some sorting and throwing out on our part but Lauren and I are on our way with another treasured cargo.

Lucky us!

Monday, September 7, 2009


Several weeks ago I began to have the 'teacher's nightmare' as I comfortably slumbered all snug in my bed.

This is when I began to realize that my glorious summer was coming to an end.

The teacher's nightmare is similar to the actor's nightmare wherein everything that could go wrong, does. In my case anxiety manifested in a couple of repeated dreamland scenarios.

Such is the first day of school and I can't find my classroom. I am wandering the halls and either can't remember what class I am supposed be in or can't locate it through the maze of hallways. Or I show up unprepared or think I am teaching kindergarten but find out I am scheduled to teach fourth grade instead (this really did happen to a friend of mine).

I am sure that I will find sleep difficult tonight as a mix of excitement and worry keep the sandman from sprinkling his magical dust in my ever blinking eyes.

There will probably be some New York City public school children out there experiencing the same feeling tomorrow night. I had it as a child anticipating the first day of school but who knew my teachers were going through the same thing?

Wish me luck...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Glorious Summer

It is always good to acknowledge a gift and give thanks and this summer has been a season to do just that.

Again and again the word glorious comes to mind as I think back on the past two months. It has been a phase to slow down, travel, spend time with the diverse group of friends I adore and cherish, read fantastic novels, nap, visit with my amazing family and focus on helping my 45-year-old body get back into manly, muscular shape.

It has been a great while since I have felt the freedom of childhood summers. The long ago days when as a teenager I would spend the night lounging on the hood of my older brother's 1968 Pontiac Firebird writing terrible poetry under the streetlamp or wandering the streets of my neighborhood barefoot singing Linda Ronstadt's I Ain't Always Been Faithful, repeating the lyrics "did you ever walk the empty street until the break of dawn, just to hear some lonesome sparrow sing a lonesome song".


This summer was like those. Work, school, exhaustion and drama took a back seat and were replaced by sunflowers in Italy, reading in the pool, Mickey Mouse, singing in the garden, riding in my convertible, walking my doggie and pizza night at La Tavola Marche!

These last few days will be spent riding my bike on the towpath up to Lambertville, New Jersey and New Hope, Pennsylvania and organizing myself for the first days of school.

Lauren and I will be teaching kindergarten this year (YIPPEE!!) and if I have to spend my days focused on work, I couldn't think of a more glorious prospect than being surrounded by eager, happy, little children.


Related Posts with Thumbnails