I have been enjoying reading my new children's book GRADY GETS GLASSES to preschoolers and other elementary students around the Pittsburgh area. I taught 10th grade English and theater for 37 years, and I was a little concerned about dealing with the little ones. I must share that my experiences have been delightful, and the tiny tykes are really not so different from the 10th graders. It has been nothing short of FUN!
I want to share some humorous observations (so far) from the preschool and elementary students and schools in which I have presented:
"Criss-cross, Applesauce!" means to sit down on the floor with legs crossed. We never used this expression in 10th grade, but it works great with elementary kids! (I found out that this phrase replaces one formerly used which is now politically incorrect.)
I have noticed that for whatever reason, all elementary schools smell exactly the same. (Chalk? Crayons?? Cleaning products????)
Toilets in elementary school lavatories are very short. And virtually every girls' room has a sign that says "Remember to flush." I am wondering what percentage of small girls can read that sign?
Adults in elementary restrooms must become VERY AWARE of not tripping over small stools which are in front of some sinks.
When asked their names, students will tell you not only their name, but also their first initial. Example of a student I called upon and asked his name - he said "I am Logan S." Of course, I had to reply, "I am Dede R."
I like to ask the kids their ages, just to break the ice. During my introduction, I tell them that I was a teacher for 37 years. Each and every time I have said this, there has been an audible gasp from the group. Some small brave souls actually ASK my age (63), and, of course, I answer truthfully. One boy said, "Wow, you are almost as old as my Grandpa, and he is REALLY old. He's 66!" Very cute.
I have ordered 500 Grady bunnies to sell with the book. When I show the Grady bunny and share this information to the kids, they always ask if I can GIVE them one. (very cute) I tell them that the bunnies will be for sale, and their lack of understanding about money is so funny. Some guess $1, others as much as $100. Bottom line- they want one! (Good news for me as an entrepreneur)
Connecting with kids in grade 1 or grade 10 is what it is all about. I was very touched that some students walked up to hand me their name tags - to keep- because "I want you to remember me." Very sweet. Nothing in teaching and technology will ever replace the eye contact and exchange of smiles. I love receiving the thank you notes and funny drawings as well. One little boy wrote: "You are very funny and I love Grady."
I like to pass the Grady prototype plush bunny around, and everyone gives him a little hug. Kids notice everything- like "Grady's whisker is in his eye, and you should fix it, because it is bothering him." All right, whisker fixed!
Children are so kind. When reading to the kids, I wear bunny ears, which fell off at one point, and a child hopped up to pick them up and handed them to me. Grady the prototype bunny fell off my lap, and was caught by another student. He gently put Grady back on my lap, saying that he was very glad that Grady "Did not get hurt."
Children have no inhibitions, which can be very funny. I walk a fine line as a guest author, because I am not really the teacher, but of course, all behavior is expected to be appropriate. Some of the little ones want to talk and talk, when the others want to hear the story. I had to look at a few groups and say "Stop" in my teacher voice to get them back on task. Just like 10th grade- some things are the same for kids of all ages!
It's curious to observe the kids who are really needy for attention, or the ones who are so painfully shy. One student, who must never open his mouth to say anything, had a lengthy conversation with me about Grady and his glasses, and the other kids appeared to be dumbfounded that this child was speaking. (I was thrilled- I love being recognized by the kids as the approachable and "not scary" teacher.)
And perhaps the most important observation - being a high school teacher is so much easier than teaching elementary school. The elementary teacher does not have even one second of down time! My hat is off to elementary teachers!
I have really enjoyed a great few months back in the (elementary) classroom!
Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom. Check them out! http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Rittman Publishing, LLC ®
Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading.
Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . The website www.gradygetsglasses.com IS UP AND RUNNING!!!. Signed copies ARE available! Coloring books and Grady plush toys are ordered!
Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. https://www.facebook.com/gradygetsglasses?ref=hl
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Dede is the co-host of The Total Education Q & A, which can be heard on Blogtalk Radio at www.blogtalkradio.com/totaltutor