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My Best Friend

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Today we we remember the day we were wed

The day that remains forever in my head.

The day we said, I do

The day that sealed my love to you.

It has been the best nine years

Years filled with laughter and tears.

Years filled with the good and the bad

All of the fun that we had.

I married my best friend and that is you

WE were awesome and then we added two.

Two amazing boys full of joy and hope.

Two was cool but four is dope!

My best friend you will always be

My favorite person and the one closest to me.

One day it will just be us two again

But we still don’t know how this story will end.

You Two

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I stand here watching you two
Listening to the hilarious things that are you.
Observing the love that you share
Wondering how I even got here.

Counting my blessings every day
Thanking my lucky stars from June until May.
Overwhelmed with pride in my heart
Overjoyed with happiness from the start.

You two have something unique
Something so special, you don’t have to speak.
Something that no one can take away
You get to be brothers every single day.

You two will always have someone’s back
A brother to lean on, to make a pack.
A friend to count on and a shoulder to cry
A brother, a companion, a heck of a guy.

A brother is something you both are
That’s something I wish I could sell in a jar.
You two will stick together
A brother is something that lasts forever.

Don’t let feelings and things get in the way.
Don’t forget to stop life and pray.
I pray you two will always be this way.

The way you are at four and less than zero.
A brother is and can be your hero.
A brother is your wingman and more
Your plus one and that someone at the door.

Someday I hope you two will feel these same joys
A father of two amazing boys.
A Dad or Dada or whatever your name Because of you two, I will never be the same.

New Guy

I will be here for you new guy
I will show you how to knot a tie
I will let you fail
Help you along like the wind on a sail
Answer those questions in your head
Sing you a lullaby and rock you to bed
Never miss a day of telling you I care
Show you how to spike your hair
Hold your hand when your heart is broken
Know you love me though it goes unspoken
I will open your eyes and teach you to read
Learning will be planted like a seed
Show you God’s love and grace
Make sure you know how to make a funny face
New Guy, you will learn to care for others
Know you have an amazing brother
You will smile when you awake
And to bed a smile you will take
Help you reach for the stars
You will learn to drive a car
Treat woman with respect and love
And know someone always loves you up above
There will be times when we don’t see eye to eye
But there will always be a shoulder for which to cry
You will teach me some things or two
But always know I will love you

My Dude

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My Dude is so smart
He has taking over my heart
His smile so bright
He could light up the whole night.

His love so contagious
His humor so outrageous
His hand so small
His effect on me, so tall.

I love my dude
He always alters my mood
He brings joy to my life
He brings the same joy to my wife.

He sees the world as a place to play
A new adventure every single day
He sees people for the good
The way other people should.

My dude is one of a kind
Look but you will never find
A sweeter soul then what’s inside
This little dude I stand beside.

I drew a picture of myself on a stage and an audience where you could only see the back of their heads. I wanted to be a comedian when I grew up. My mother still has this picture from my first grade writing assignment. I never pursued this career choice but I did pursue the next best thing, teaching Kindergarten.
I have been a comedian in a Kindergarten classroom for eight years and I have the best audience. Twenty eager minds waiting to learn, smile, and laugh. Always a packed house and always excited to see the next show. The audience pays with hugs, smiles, and excitement when they learn something new. They sometimes give a fist bump or a high five to their friends. I get a random “I love you” while I am performing. I have been asked a lot why I teach Kindergarten and how I do it everyday? I chose Kindergarten because it is important. I am the first teacher that students and parents associate school with. I have the ability to allow students to love school, love to learn, love to attend the show.I have the responsibility to allow parents to fall in love with school again or love school for the first time. I receive twenty or more hugs each day I come to work. I get payed to make my community I work in a better place to live. I have the honor of setting students up to succeed in life. I get to be silly and actually get payed to do so. I am thankful each day that God has given me the talent to perform in front of this audience each day.
As an educator, we have to remember that our students are watching every performance, ever facial expression, every gesture. We have the responsibility to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. I am proud to be a Kindergarten teacher and I appreciate the audience that sits in front of me and laughs, smiles, and learns during every show. I have the greatest stage in education. I am a Kindergarten teacher.

I used this post in my acceptance speech for the Green Schools Foundation Educator of the Year.

You: A Poem To My Son

You

You have made me a better man

You have your first fan

You have shown me a new type of love

You made me realize there is definitely someone up above

You made me a better teacher

You made me look forward to the future

You made me see life in a new way

You bring  joy to my life every single day

You taught me how  unconditional feels

You are a huge deal

You show me everyday what a father means to you

You always teach me something new

You do all this just by being you

I remember starting my educational career and hearing, “Don’t smile until Christmas”.  I am sure that many educators do feel  this way but this would never work for me.  I smile every morning I wake up and I smile every time I see a child’s face.  My students know I care about them and I tell them frequently.  It has taken me a long time to have success with  my classroom management in Kindergarten.  It is still a work in progress but I have been pleased with the behavior in my classroom over the years.  Every year is different and every child and situation is different when it comes to classroom discipline.  That means that there is no magic solution that will make students follow rules and make good social choices but I have found (with a lot of patience and trial and error) a plan that has worked for me and my students.  

My classroom management plan starts with a smile and expectations.  A smile can set the mood and show your students and parents what type of character you posses.  I meet every parent at open house with a hand shake and a smile.  I get down on each child’s level and smile and give a high-five.  I want my students and my parents to feel comfortable with me in order to open the door for communication and to let them know we are on the same page. We both want what’s best for their child.  I want the student to know that I care about them as soon as they walk in through my classroom door.  I have each student bring art work from home to help decorate the room and have ownership in the classroom community.   This is the groundwork for creating a caring community of learners.  This is the backbone of eliminating or minimizing unwanted behavior during a school day.  Each family is a vital part of the learning process that takes place in our classroom.   I update parents regularly with my classroom website , quick e-mails, or photos in text messages.  We create many movies, Glogs, and photo stories to make parents feel involved in their child’s education.  I start each year by making positive phone calls home to every family so that it is easier when I have to make a unpleasent call.

Each child has to know what is expected of them.  I have found that this works for all ages of children and even adults.  Life is easier when you know what others expect from you.  I tell the children what I expect from them when; they are sitting on the carpet, walking down the hallway, at recess, at lunch, on the bus, during centers, etc… This is an important part of my classroom discipline plan.  Instead of telling children NO all the time, I tell them what I expect.  Then the ball is in their court, they can either make a good choice or a bad choice, but it is always their choice.  I model the expectations for the first month of school and keep the same routines throughout the school year and I remind them of these expectations regularly throughout the school year.  When they make good choices, good things happen.  When they make bad choices, bad things happen. You can ask any child in my classroom and they will echo this motto.  This is true throughout our adult lives. we can make good choices or bad choices but we have to live with the consequences.  I reward good choices with extrinsic responses.  I do this quite often to start the school year.  I give the students; stickers for their sticker charts, I smile, high-five, say positives and give praise.  Children need these reinforces to learn positive expectations and they need a lot of these to learn what school is all about. The ultimate goal is for children to eventually have intrinsic motivation for making good choices. If they make bad choices; they have to turn their card, a note is sent home, or a phone call is made to their parents. You have to follow through with the plan.  You better call home if you say that is what the consequence is for negative behavior.  This is the mistake a lot of educators make, they don’t follow through.  Sometimes it just takes one call to let the students know that you are working with their parents and they will find out about the choices they are making during class.

The other aspect that has changed my discipline plan in my classroom has been the school wide movement to incorporate our bucket filler program.  The idea is that everyone has an invisible bucket.  When we do nice things, we fill each others bucket.  You fill a friend’s bucket when you make good choices and you fill your own bucket at the same time.  You can also be a bucket dipper.  That is when a student makes a negative choice towards a friend.  You can hear the children out on the playground or in the classroom saying “you are being a bucket dipper” or “you are being a bucket filler”.  We celebrate bucket fillers at school and at home by having them take a picture with our mascot Bruno The Bucket.  Our Art teacher made this puppet and it is amazing.  We hang these on our bucket filler bulletin board in our hallway.  Many notes come in from home with celebrations of bucket filling.  This is a great visual for younger students and they really grasp the concept.  We start every year with an assembly given and performed by some of the staff members including me. 

My hope is that this blog finds a new teacher and helps them figure out what classroom management plan works best to meet their pedagogy or give a veteran teacher a new twist to their discipline plan.  Children need to know what is expected of them and their accomplishments need to be celebrated.  Every student and family is a vital part to a caring classroom community and every discipline issue can be a positive teaching moment.  Each child deserves to keep their dignity intact when they are learning from their mistakes.  Sometimes a whisper in a students ear is just as effective as a lion roar.   I used to spend a lot of energy on classroom management because I didn’t have a plan. I spent 90% of my time on classroom management and 10% on teaching and learning.  My classroom is now 10% classroom management and 90% entertainment.  When the plan works and you follow through with the plan, teaching is a pure joy!  I say that it is 90% entertainment because when kids are motivated, engaged, and know expectations, students learn and have fun learning!

To Every Child That Walks Our Way

 I am a Kindergarten teacher because

I want to live in a better world

I want every child’s voice to be heard

I want to make an immediate impact

I want to keep children’s dignity intact

I want to stop all the hate and discrimination

I want all people to live equally in our great nation

I want the world to love each other

Why are we fighting, why even bother

I chose to become a Kindergarten teacher

I see hope in our immediate future

I see children compassionate and loving

Caring for one another and their minds evolving

Teaching is what I have been sent here to do

To make every child smile, laugh, and learn too

There is nothing else destiny has in store

I must give each child the keys to unlock the door

Each child is unique and special in so many ways

Teaching is what I want to do for the rest of my days

I want to be remembered when I am no longer around

I want every child’s potential to be found

I am a Kindergarten teacher and have never been so proud

Hear the words that I am screaming so loud

Our love, heart, and soul should be given each day

To every child that walks our way

                                   By Ryan P. Flinn

Clayton Sleeping

I wish I could bottle up and sell the feeling I get when I stare at my son sleeping.

My son was born on October 24, 2009.  He is now roughly around sixteen months old. My wife and I tried to have a child for some time and I remember being in the shower when my wife urinated on the stick and tears flowed from my eyes when I saw those two red lines. Well, not exactly, I first asked my wife if we were going to get my Man Cave done and then tears came gushing from my eyes when she said yes and I realized I was going to be a father.   The preparation of our child was filled with excitement and fear.  I knew for sure I would make a great Daddy but was nervous about the health of my child and if my child would have a sense of humor like me.   We always prayed for a healthy child first and then I secretly prayed for a son when my wife wasn’t listening.  I remember asking him in my wife’s belly, “Are you going to be funny like me?”  I have always had an interest in being a comedian as a career when I was young. Many months passed and more worries came from my wife.  She was nervous about money and if she would be a great mother.  I knew she would be a great mother or I wouldn’t have married her and there is never a right time financially to have children.  Though my wife and I did get our masters studies done which was in the plan and my unborn child had more money in a savings account than I did. I went to every doctors appointment with my wife and noticed I was one of the few dads at the OBGYN. I couldn’t imagine not being there.  I looked forward to going and finding out the progress of our child. I kept a journal and video taped every moment on my Flip camera.  I got video of the first ultrasound, when we found out the sex of our child, and many more priceless moments.  I recorded everything in hopes I didn’t miss anything. 

My son was born on his due date. My wife called me on my cell phone and asked, “Are you ready to do this, be a Daddy?”  I was more than ready.  I wanted children for a long time.  I am a Kindergarten teacher and it is in my DNA to be a Daddy.  I view being a father as one of the most important and influential jobs a man could have.    I always had the need to take care of others.   My wife was in labor for ten hours.  I tried to have my Flip to capture this moment too but my wife quickly shut down this production. I guess searching the hospital for ice chips was more important than video taping her yelling at me.   My wife pushed for several hours and we even played Tug of War with a blanket to help the process.  I looked at the Doctor after the tenth hour and said, “Doc, time to call it”! My wife and I decided to have a c-section and she went into the operating room.  I sat by her side as she drifted in and out of sleep and again I was making jokes the whole time, that comedian dream still living inside me.  The doctor and her team counted their surgical instruments as they operated. My wife wanted to know what they were counting.  I told her,”They want to be in my Kindergarten class.” The doctor even laughed at that one.  My child came out of my wife’s body and the song from The Lion King played in my head.  You know, the one in which Simba was raised to the animals on top of that cliff.  I clutched my wife’s hand as they cleaned him and I heard him cry for the first time.  Tears flowed again and my wife who was very tired by this point, smiled at me and said, “Is that our son crying?”  I ran over to where they were cleaning him and checking him out, he was the most beautiful boy I have ever  laid my eyes on. 

That day, I held my son in my hands.  I am 6’4 and weigh about 280 pounds and he fit right in the palm of my hand, so tiny. Every time I looked at him, I would tear up.  I had to run to the Chapel in the hospital every time my son fell asleep.  I thanked God for this amazing gift.  I thanked him for giving me something so outstanding and wonderful.  He had giving me so much and I realized at that moment that I didn’t always give him what he deserved.  I knelt and praised God for giving his only son to die on the cross for my sins.  Now that I held my own son in my hands, I couldn’t imagine letting him die.  I didn’t realize how awesome God’s sacrifice was untill that moment.  I would look outside the hospital window on that Fall day and marvel over God’s creation.  Even the Fall leaves appeared  more beautiful to me.

I tell you this story because I can’t imagine not being a Daddy.  I really don’t understand  why I was walking on this Earth untill my son was born.  Yes, it is a game changer for sure.  I don’t get to watch all the sports on the television.  I don’t get to go out with the boys every weekend.  I don’t get to use the bathroom by myself anymore. I do get to help define my child’s character.  I do get to see my child smile and laugh everyday.  I do get to have greater meaning in my life.  I tell you this story because I play a major role in my child’s upbringing.   It was always my job to give my child a bath.  It was always my job to feed my child when my wife was tired or needed a break.  It is my duty and privilege to read to my child and play with him.  When we go out to a restaurant, I happily feed him so my wife can eat too.   See, my wife is a teacher also and she too has a career.  We are partners in this thing called parenting and I love being on that team.  I don’t think my father played such a major role in my upbringing and I can’t imagine my dad having the patients to calm a screaming child at 2 o’clock in the morning  but I welcome this role and it brings a smile to my face everyday!  There are many nights when I am the only one that can calm my son and there are many nights that my son only wants me to comfort him.  Being a Daddy is not about being the “bread winner,” it is about being a vital and important role in the cognitive, emotional, and physical development of my son.

This is my first Blog post using WordPress.  I am excited and a little timid sharing my life to the world.  I am a male Kindergarten teacher that teaches from the heart.  I love my students and their families like an extension of my immediate family.  I always wanted to grow up and be a comedian.  I am on stage everyday in front of very excited and watchful five and six-year olds.  I love my job!! Kindergarten for me is 10% classroom management and 90% entertainment.  I entertain and the kids entertain themselves and learn.  If you walked past my class…you would see all students having fun, laughing, collaborating, and learning. 

I have always searched for a platform where my voice could be heard.  I am not one to share my ideas all the time with the principal and I find that being a male in early childhood…other teachers are not always anxious to share ideas with me.  This is why social networks have been a life line for me as an educator.  I am able to share my ideas about education and not feel like anyone is judging me.  I have learned more using Twitter than in my Masters studies in Instructional Technology.  Facebook has allowed me to meet and share with other educators as well.  Social networks have change my educational career tremendously.  I am not always right but I always have an opinion and by collaborating with other great minds, I can explore my opinions and make accurate changes to better student learning.

My only fear is that my social life is being effected by my Social Network life.  My wife thinks that I am on my Iphone too much and I try to put it away when it is family time.  I have invited her into the Social Network world but she is not interested even though she is a third grade teacher.  I have always been a social guy.  I love interacting with others and now socializing is in the palm of my hand at all times.  Have any of you felt this way? 

I want to continue using social networking to enhance my knowledge of education but I don’t want this thirst for knowledge to kill the social relationships I already have.  My wife and my son are more important then the relationships i have with people on Social Networks.

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