I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

14 August 2011

No Stress Free Path

I'm debating whether or not to go into school for a little bit today.  I spent five hours there Saturday, completing the following tasks:
  • accepted a delivery of popcorn kernels, yogurt, all-fruit popsicles, healthy granola bars and bottled water for my class snacks this week
  • whacked my head on the freezer hard enough to raise a big ugly bruise at my hairline
  • filled out, had signed and faxed four bus requests to the Transportation Office (a trip to the Farmers' Market for each K and 1st and a trip to the California Academy of Sciences for my class and another Kindergarten)
  • Received a final roster.  I'm back up to 22 students, but a child who toured my room and had his picture taken with me last week was switched yet again into another class.  Someone or some program at the District office is constantly fiddling with class lists over the last week before school starts, and it's really irritating.  Anyway, I'll be starting with 23 on my roster.
  • Made copies and filed everything.
  • Set up baskets, etc. for Reading Workshop.
  • Collected and stored some of my classroom workbooks.
  • Ordered this, a couple of these* and some hand sanitizer
  • Wrote out lesson plans for the week
  • Did some final cleaning
  • Got first day intake materials together.  On the first day of school, I have a worksheet so that I have a single, in-room class list that provides the following for each child: 
    • a telephone number guaranteed to be answered that day at all times,
    • any allergies
    • what the child will be doing after school, with a back-up plan if the child is planning to attend the afterschool program but has not been officially registered (there will be a full waitlist), the exact bus stop at which the child disembarks and the name of the adult who is picking up the child there, or the name of the adult picking the child up at school.
  • In addition to getting the list filled out, I pass out my class letter, a general field trip form for all walking field trips (for those occasions when a child forgets an event-based walking trip form) and put a name necklace on each child.  This is hectic.
  • Made sure I had gone over my rising first graders with each first grade teacher
  • Failed to fix the dollhouse and refusing-to-open file cabinet
  • Confirmed that my incubator still works (yay!)
  • Missed not one, but two buses
If I went over today, I would drop off some Sharpie markers, a chart tablet and these.  Then I would just walk around my room a little, make sure I had plenty of sometimes and anytime snacks pictures for our collage and write a list of sparklers.  No matter how many years I do this, there will be at least one brief moment every day the first week wherein a significant minority of the class is exhausted, hungry and hot and I suddenly forget everything I know about teaching.  I do not think a list will keep this from happening, but it might inure me against feeling a total failure when it does.

The biggest thing I've learned about Kindergarten is that the first couple of weeks are the hardest part of the year.  I feel especially horrible about the kids being tired and cranky toward the end of the day because it is the beginning of the year: they don't know about all the cool and awesome fun we will have as the year goes on.  Moreover, since this is the first week, my Resident will be leaving an hour before the end of the school day, so the most difficult portion of the day during the most difficult portion of the year will be just me.  

I have a giant fan now, courtesy Donors Choose, and I think that will help a great deal.  I also filled four spray bottles for misting, and scheduled PE (indoor and outdoor), cooperative and imaginative play for the last hour.  Historically, I have avoided outdoor PE the first week due to the hassle of collecting backpacks, placing them on the lower yard bench without anyone fleeing for the Kindergarten yard, etc. This year, I'm going to have the Resident help me get them to the yard before she leaves.  The first day will be either parachute or ribbon wands, depending on child fatigue (the parachute is a lot of work, physically).  So I'm crossing my fingers against the likelihood of someone deciding to test the teacher's boundaries by bolting for the lower yard play structure.  My goal this year is to go with the flow: five year olds are five, and that's going to mean some tired, cranky kids.  Getting tired and cranky because they won't do what I had planned does no one any good.  Still, I don't intend to flow to lower yard play structure use on the first day.

Typing this up has made me feel less stressed out: the benefits of navel-gazing on one's internal psychodrama are real!  Maybe I won't go in.  That would be ideal, honestly: I'd like to go to the gym before I go to Outside Lands.

My only other major worry is around eating.  Having ended my medication holiday, I am readjusting to Adderall, which was originally developed and marketed as a weight-loss drug.  For me, the drug improves my focus enough that I don't so much forget to eat as

a. I decide to eat whenever I finish, but since there's always something else to do I don't ever finish.
b. I have adequate focus that I do not get distracted and decide that I need a snack.

And then when I do eat I am not very hungry.  This side effect doesn't last that long, but what with the endless tasks of the first week of school, I didn't eat very much.  I didn't notice any major low blood sugar side effects, but when managing twenty three brand new Kindergartners, you want all systems at go.**  So I think I'm going to pack small but powerful lunches (packing a lunch being one of the skills Adderall helps me master).  I'm also going to stay at the very small dose level at which I restarted.

*I have everything I need to make kaleidoscopes except caps.  My theory is that making these easier ones will enable me to make caps and use my materials next year. Making a good kaleidoscope is a little complicated, and since this will be an early in the year project, I really want it to work well.
**I have efficiently managed Kindergartens without medication; however, currently I feel that my life in general - including all portions that do not take place on school grounds - benefit from a combination of ADHD management strategies including medication.  Besides, other than the eating, the improved focus, decreased fidgeting and lowered stress levels really make for a happier me.

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