Kids and Love


Movin' on up ya'll!

What's less cool than Las Cruces? Gallup, NM. Actually I love Las Cruces, and Gallup is growing on me...yeah, I'm kind of in love.

Recent developments:

Planning a YEAR worth of pre-kinder lessons. Woah.

I'm a bit of a home decor monster and now mildly obsessed with junk stores and spray paint. I think it's progressing into a problem.

I have hardwood floors. I do. I do. I do-ooo.

I got my bed today! I think that's actually when you know you're officially stuck somewhere, when the bed is in place (and the sheets are already on).

School starts August 17th. Oh my gosh. My first day of pre-k! =) I like saying that for so many reasons, such as 1.) Duh! It rhymes 2.) It's like.... dejavu! and 3.) HOLY COW I'm a freakin' teacher!

Well, I'm starting to find many ways to apply my marketing degree to pre-k, in a non-brainwash the kids to talk their parents into buying them Happy Meals and Hot Wheels kind of way, but in a "school's totally AWESOME" kind of way.

Well, stay tuned as time narrows in on my FIRST DAY OF PRE-K!!




Did one month really pass by that quickly?

Today's ranking on hardest days of my life? 4 out of 7

I can't believe I actually had to say goodbye to them.

To Esteban who noticed that for the first day since he has been my student that I was not wearing a band-aid over my tattoo (to cover it) and asked me "are you all better Ms. Toll?" while pointing at my foot. Esteban, who continually spoke out and spent most of his time in time out, but is actually an awesome, smart, and freakin' hilarious kid who just needed some dang attention. When I asked the kids to draw a self-portrait of themselves today for me to keep Esteban actually drew a detailed picture of his father, mustache and all. The art work has been an item of pure awesomeness all day.... I want to frame it and hang it in my house, actually, I am going to frame it and hang it in my house.

To Alexis, who has the most adorable and sincere smile I have ever seen. If ever I thought my children were evil all I had to do was look at Alexis and he somehow said to me through his smile "Ms. Toll, please excuse my peers, we're actually really sweet!" Alexis, who could hardly speak English or speak at all when I first met him can now hold conversations with everyone. He's the smallest kid in the class, and I just adore the little darling.

To Hector, who for the first time in a while did not spew projectile vomit all over the carpet 10 minutes before school ended. Oh Hector, who we just found out is lactose intolerant, but it only took us a bean and cheese burrito, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, cheese pizza, and several cartons of milk for us to figure this out. The picture he drew me was of him and the girl who sits next to him, Claudia. Hector is one of the happiest kids on the planet.

To Claudia, who told me at least 4 times today "I'm going to miss you Ms. Toll" and then wrapped her little arms so tight around my legs. Claudia, who most of the kids at her table copied off of, and all of the kids in the class looked up to. The self-portrait she drew me is the spitting image of her. With her long black pony tail and ear to ear smile. When I first met Claudia she would hardly speak, and now she is one of our most eloquent speakers.

To Gilbert, Mr. Bubbles. Gilbert, Gilbert, Gilbert. The child who I can say honestly had the biggest impact on me. Starting out Gilbert was out of control. I nearly cried several times in the middle of class. He would completely ignore every command and would rarely respond to his name. He would pull out all the toys and run around the room while I gave instruction. This was a daily routine and I thought I had tried everything I possibly could to get through to him, nothing was working. I felt as though I was at rock bottom with him, and I was just about to give up on him. I wanted to hold him to the same standards as the other students, but I had started to believe that that would never be possible. Thank goodness for great advice and continued persistence. The last week of school Gilbert became a normal student! With some serious behavioral management and hard core intervention Gilbert began to come around. He started responding to his name and ALWAYS sat on the carpet with the other students. His motivation? Well, yesterday it was bubbles. Today it was a pencil. With a close eye and constant praise or discipline Gilbert will do just fine. When I spoke to hims mom today I told her to make sure that his kindergarten teacher did not give up on him. At the end of the day he looked up to me, wrapped his arms in a tight grip around me ( like he always does) and said "bye teacher" I had to use every bit of strength in my body to hold back my tears. What a phenomenal boy. His heart is full of gold, and my mindset has made a complete 180. My sweet Gilbert, I will never be able to repay him for everything he has taught me. Oh Gilbert. "Bubbles!"

To Angel, who never said much, and was somewhat lost in the crowd, but who I know will grow into such and incredible kid. He has a lot of gears running in that tiny little brain, I don't think the world is ready to see them yet, but I think that once the time is right, he wont hold back.

To Ismael, the most polished off kid in the universe. With outstanding manners and the mouth of a tattletale. He has the cutest voice, I love when he talks. I have no fear with him, he'll manage to figure it out. I'll miss his baby blue polo that he wore every single day, and the sparkly little stars that had been stuck all over the collar.

To Dahvyne, my girl. I am so glad that my CMA will have Dehvyne as a student in the fall, so I can hear all about how her brilliant brain is expanding even more. This girl is smart, so smart! Her mom today told me "she's too smart for her own good" and I love it! She has such high expectations for herself and she gets incredibly bored in class. She's going to do big things with her life, I can feel it. Her self-portrait is adorable, minus the mustache she drew on her face after she saw the moustache Esteban drew on his picture, actually, I like her moustache.

To Daysy, the princess. Though Spanish is still her language, she's started to respond to a lot more questions at the end there. She loves anything princess, and also ALWAYS needs her shoes tied. One time I tied her shoe for her, then when she walked away I watched as she untied it and came right back up to me expecting me to tie it again. Kids are silly.

To Mara, oh Mara. Mara must have a lot of interesting things going on in that little mind of hers, she is always daydreaming about something. I would love to just look inside that little head of hers for maybe 29 seconds. She draws awesome pictures, as any pro-daydreamer should. =)

To Jesus, who says "yellow" in the most awesome way. He's my little vampire with a kick-butt accent, which I still never figured out where he picked it up from. His self-portrait is hilarious too! He drew himself and his little brother, and he drew himself with his mohawk even. He gave me my first ever teacher gift, an awesome pen that has a stand and on top of the pen is a little doll, that is wearing all green (my favorite color) dress and hat, I just love it. This kid is the spitting image of how I hope my children are, he's amazing.

To Rodrigo, who somehow thought I wasn't paying attention when he snuck away from the line and ran back to the play structures at lunch the other day. This kid will be the next Marvel comic artist. I'm astounded by his creativity, I think he draws better than most college students I know. Yeah- he's that legit. He was also the funniest to listen to when playing "who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?"

To Miss Paris, the angel of room 4. She was gift from heaven. A brilliant kid who is so eager to learn and listen. Today she told me she wants to go to college and be a teacher like me. She loved being in that classroom everyday, and made my life WAY easier. Paris is also a spitting image of what I hope my children are. She's just a doll.

To Ebonie, ahhhh, sweet Ebonie. With her long, long dark hair, always in a pony tail. The one who never had to pull her card ever. She made such gains in letter recognition and math, I am so glad that we were able to help her reach her growth goals, but she also worked hard to get there.

To Alejandro, with dimples that made me melt. Alejandro is the definition of a kid. He is a great learner, a great friend, and a great little boy. My day always managed to somehow get so much brighter whenever I saw him, I just loved that little boy. I also hope that my children someday are just like him.

To Eva, a mini-teenager. She loved to talk, and she loved her lipstick. I am so proud of her for overcoming so many things, and drying up her tears every morning wen she didn't want to be at school. She learned and grew and I only hope that she will learn and grow so very much more in the coming years.

To Dayanna, with her little chubby cheeks and sweet demeanor. She sometimes talked to herself, about interesting things, I would have liked to have known why or what prompted that. None-the-less she did a great job in our class and she is a little mathematician!

To David, who has a great personality- but somehow always got shy during morning circle and stuck his face into a stuffed penguin when he talked. He was such a goofy kid, and I loved him for that.

To Edwin, who used to fall asleep everyday with his butt in the air, but now tries so hard to be good and to learn. Today he told me his favorite basketball player is Amare Staudemire, I was impressed. I loved when he wore his bright orange Fubu attire and his bald little head, he's also one of our smallest kids, but somehow has one of the biggest mouths. What a cutie.

I would love if my children had a little piece of all of these children in them.... a litte Claudia with a pinch of Edwin, a side of Jesus, and dollop of Daysy, and smidgen of Alexis, and scoop of Paris and so on. They are all amazing and I love them with every bit of my heart. I'm so blessed to have known them and have them touch my life.

My first ever students. You'll always be my favorites.... but shhh.... don't tell my future classes!


Breakthrough Role (Prepare for extreme use of parenthesis)

My second to last day of institute training and I finally have my breakthrough! Ha! Well, my lesson plan today was my best yet. My kids were super engaged and on task and for the most part adhering to their expectations. They really enjoyed it and I in turn really enjoyed them (but when do I not?).

Today we graphed the number of kids who liked cookies and the number who liked cupcakes, and can you believe this- MORE kids prefer cookies! What??!? Kids these days, they just don't respect the true value of a beautifully crafted dessert! I mean seriously, a mini cake- what could be better??

As for the one month of summer school and the impact it's had on my kiddos? Well that data will be released to my valued readers (all 3.26 of you.... and I say ".26" because I think Phil has only read one post.... but whoa, I am getting way too off task and creating a terribly long run on sentence in this parenthesis so I'll stop after I say "thanks 3.26 of you who read this!!") at an upcoming date so be on the lookout! Okay, sorry to have sidetracked you there. From the way it looks, most of our students have made (get ready for some TFA vocab here.... you ready? get ready!) SIGNIFICANT GAINS! And I mean legitimately, and especially in math! OooOo they be like, so smart and like, such as.

Send me good vibes tomorrow as it is guarenteed I will bawl my eyes out as I send my students home one last time. Oh, I just cried a little right now.



Aloe Vera

I sit in the dark as the aloe soothes my sunburned back. That's what you get for leaving institute and having fun at the beach I guess.

But I sure did miss my kids this weekend. All weekend long I was haunted by echoes of their sweet voices. Things like:

Teacher: "Rodrigo can you tell me a word that starts with E?"
Rodrigo: "Ectorrrrr*!"
His confidence was admirable! In case you hadn't figured it out...no, there is not a kid in my class named "Ectorrrr*" he was saying Hector.... They're just so stinking cute.

Or the classic: "Jyello!" for "yellow."

And I can't forget this line: "I miss pre-school, we got to watch movies all day!"

And I always have to come up with a new line for Esteban when he asks- "Ms. Toll, did mister colorrrr*s call again last night?"

I only have 3 days left with my amazing summer school kids. I'm so sad. I'm going to miss them. The hard part is I can't just add them on Facebook and write on their wall or creep when they add a new photo album..... once I leave on Friday I will more than likely never see any of them again.

Count on tears. Many of them.

*rrrr: represent the spanish rolled R in my blog.


Thank Evolution You Little Demons

One of my summer teaching partners Dan gave me great insight as to why it is we refrain from drop kicking our nose picking kids....I call this his theory, though he will not take credit for it, but I'll refer to it as Dan's theory from here on out.

"It's evolution that kids are cute so that we don't kill them." -Dan Fuchs


Further proof? http://www.rps.psu.edu/probing/babies.html


"W" starts with "D"

When I was reviewing letters today with a group of enriched students I asked on of the students to tell me the letter I presented her on a flashcard. The letter was "W" and while she struggled I asked if anyone could help her. I must say Dahvyne is one intellectual pre-kinder! She blurts out- "that's the one that starts with D" -that's just pure brilliance! Of course "double-u" starts with "D" but actually no right? Because "W" is just "W" not "double-u," of course I did not have the heart to break that news to her- but I mean technically she is right, so I was not sure what to tell her.

What kind of language have we created here where one of our letters actually has a word in it?? I mean really- we can come up with "M" as the name for "M" and "T" as the name for "T" but did we really run out of names when we stumbled upon the creation "W?" So some smart person totally set our pre-kinders up for disaster by naming "W" as "double-u!" And on that note- it seems more like a "double v" if you ask me, but I guess that all depends on your handwriting. But seriously- English is bogeous. However, I am so proud of my super brilliant students!

Just a random thought.... carry on.


"...and I like nachos too!" Week 3

I will be finished in two weeks, hallelujah.

Then I'm off to New Mexico, where I will have my own batch of rambunctious 4 and 5 year-olds that I can't wait to take on!

I went to Denver this weekend for the 3-day weekend. It's so easy to just want to not get back on the plane. It was nice to just be lazy all-weekend long, free of deadlines, alarm clocks, and terrible cafeteria food. But I only have 2 more weeks left of institute... and it's actually not that bad. Plus, I would be devastated if I had to cut out 2 weeks of precious times with my summer school pre-kinders.

Dahvyne is hilarious! We played a game where everyone in the class sits n a circle and says their name and favorite food. I started and said "My name is Brittany and I like nachos!" Then as the circle went by I heard lots of things- bananas, apples, whatever else lil' guys like, but then when it came to Dahvyne, she said "My name is Dahvyne and I like nachos too!" It was so matter-of-factly. I love that little sassy girl.

Edwin said one day in class "I miss pre-school cause all we ever did was watch movies all day!" Lil' punk.

Oh I have the kids in on this hilarious thing. So when I was working with a group of kids trying to get them to learn patterns I told them this awesome story! I told them that "Mr. Colors" called and said they wouldn't be able to make A-B patterns, that he would trick them with lots of colors. They were soooooo into it! I even pretended to talk to him on the phone one day and hung up on him after he frustrated me so much for not believing in my kids and trying to trick them! Oh boy and you can bet they know patterns now! And every day Esteban say "did you talk to Mr. Colors? What did he say?" and Alejandro is always eager to know as well.

Teaching rocks.

Teacher Camp Week 2

I'll start with my dedication:

Thank you Weepies radio station on Pandora for helping me unwind and center myself.

Thanks everyone in my life who has understood how anti-social and exhausted I have become, I am especially sorry about my lame-o personality at Misty's wedding. P.S. What a beautiful bride!

Thanks to my mom for calling me every morning at 5:40 a.m. to make sure I wake up and make it to my bus because with 2 hours of sleep this is actually hard to do on your own.

While I'm expressing gratitude thank you Stumble for giving my brain a break in serious times of need.

--Disclaimer: This next blurb may be too graphic for some audiences, please approach with caution:

This morning I was so fatigued that as soon as I got to my school site I regurgitated my boxed breakfast.... I'll just say that bagels do not come up very kindly.

Now for the cool teacher stuff:

I started teaching Monday!

My unit objectives this week was to teach my 22 awesome kiddos the difference between living and non-living (harder than one might think!!!!).

One of my pre-kindergartners is a legend at our school site. For the past three days he has thrown incredibly passionate tantrums about being separated from his mom. The image of his quivering little lips surrounded by his chubby face still haunt me as I wonder why I agreed to his mom's request of "distracting him" so she could "sneak out." I spent my lunchtime on Wednesday chasing him around in the parking lot. I should also mention he does not speak English, so the challenge get's even harder. He punched me 4 times in the arm when I had to physically restrain him from running into the parking lot for a 3rd time.

My class of 22 has a total of 5 criers, with the boy I mentioned above being the worst for sure.

Also in my class you can find 4 non-English speakers, and one sweet boy with an evident learning disability.

I have to toot my horn here though, though I'm not really tooting my own horn but rather my student's horns, all week at least 84% of my students mastered the objective, and I am soooooo proud of them. They are just so brilliant.

Word to the wise, bad idea to keep 4 and 5 year old locked up in a classroom from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with only a 15-minute recess.... I blame the school district for poor planning. Poor lil' guys (and I meant the students not the district administration).

One of my students somehow talks with a French-ish accent (which is only odd because he is not French) and I love it. I wish I could record how he says my name. He reminds me of a little Romanian vampire with the bags under his eyes and pale skin and all.

Most of my class knows my name and now I wish they didn't, they never stop calling for me. Okay I actually REALLY love it.

One of my girls told me that her boyfriend was her dad, and then she changed her mind and decided that her new boyfriend was her sister. :-)

When asked to draw a picture of a living thing and a non-living thing one boy drew a shark for a living thing and a robot t.v. for non-living. Though my favorite non-living thing that one of my students drew was a snowman.... these kids are deep.

I love the way they say "ooOOooooooOOOooo" in the sweetest little coo every time I stick a star sticker on their name tags.
Overall: Teach for America was the best choice I have ever made. Aside from the high demands, little sleep, and other irritating issues the kids make it all better and remind me that my role here is to be the best teacher they deserve.


Ms. Toll