Clara's Chalkboard

Who am I? Renée-Claire - lover of books, musicals, elephants and all things red-orange. Also, an early childhood educator.

After 8 years in the education industry, I am now embarking on my first year as an IB preschool teacher - a challenging, slightly daunting, but terribly exciting adventure. Learning each and every step of the way. Come join me! =)
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When news broke yesterday morning there were no words, merely profound sadness for those affected by this latest repeat of tragic circumstances. Too many echoes, too little comfort in arms that span a circumference less expansive than the world.
It was our Christmas picnic - 300 children and their families expected to attend over the course of the day - and all we could do was think of those precious families across the sea and be thankful that ours were happy and safe, and smiling.
This morning, news flooded through of teachers who acted calmly and selflessly to protect their little ones and prevent a bigger loss from happening. Today, I think of them with prayers of thanks. I will not honor the violence, but the beauty that prevailed.
Let this be the last time, please. Thanks.

Oh, Tumblr, how I’ve missed you. It’s been a mad, mad month - all headaches, sneezles, absent voices and woe-is-me-ness - but I think I’m back, for now. In the midst of things, some highlights: my awesome, awesome colleagues who have stepped up in the most incredible way whilst I’ve been ill, endless LOLspecies memes spoonfed by my wonderfully fiendish friends, successful completion of all semester 2 coursework - including the megolithic research proposal! (big YaY!), being asked to present my reflection templates to a bunch of 3yr uni students and receiving this amazing package from my super thoughtful buddy (amazingly, on my one month anniversary at this new job). Soo many wonderful elephant things in one ridiculously cute box! Truth be told, this just about made my month. Thank you, Rachel, for being so beautiful! I only hope my buddy is as happy with my effort. =)

Nine months into the school year and I’m having to focus on teaching independent problem solving, respect, cooperation skills and basic spatial awareness instead of content. Feels like the beginning of the year instead of the end.
Anyone else have issues with children being taught to say: ‘Stop, I don’t like it!’ And, ‘get out of my bubble!’? Perhaps it’s a personal thing, but I find myself cringing every time I hear these phrases uttered. (All of about 60 times a day with this new group.) It’s been testing my patience and creativity all week. Any new strategies people could recommend? I find I’m having to reinvent circle time activities and role plays every session. Argh!



Please there me that I am not the only one that has taken a bathroom break just for somewhere to cry. That I am not the only one who comes home crying. Who feels like the other teachers are looking at me thinking “how in the world did she get a degree in this”. Who is wondering…

I feel this right now in so many ways.


Please there me that I am not the only one that has taken a bathroom break just for somewhere to cry. That I am not the only one who comes home crying. Who feels like the other teachers are looking at me thinking “how in the world did she get a degree in this”. Who is wondering…

I don’t know a single first year teacher who hasn’t felt this overwhelmed and insecure at some point. In a lot of ways, hitting the classroom full-time for the first time after rounds is like diving blind into the deep end - the basic concepts are familiar, but practicing them can feel awkward and make us second-guess each step. It takes time to adapt them so they work for us, opportunities and supportive people to rally round us with ideas and encouragement while we try different things and make mistakes until we develop the confidence to recognize that we are competent and what we are doing is effective - not everything will be, but education is a dual process and teaching is a constant learning curve. In Australia, the government provides a mentorship program for new graduates to join during their first year. They get paired up with an experienced teacher in the general area who meets with them every couple of months and is available to contact for support, encouragement, ideas, queries, etc. at any time. Mine has been my rock - an angel who held my hand while I moaned, shared her wisdom and experience when I was tearing my hair out, got me to focus on all I was doing well and to recognise my achievements. But for her, I may have spent the whole year feeling lost and alone. I cannot recommend this experience enough, or the importance of a strong professional network - you are not alone in this and being involved in one will enable you to exchange stories with others who have been, or are still going through, similar things. As for parents, though it’s hard, try not to take their actions to heart - they’re often just projecting their own fears and insecurities. Focus on the good that you do - the rich conversations, moments of laughter, engagement and smiles. In time, you’ll have evidence of the efficacy of your teaching that will stave off the faithless and keep you buoyant in the face of negativity. I wish you all the very best with this. Tomorrow is a new day. Happy teaching.


Friends, I’m working on a unit on apples for my kiddos to go along with my requirements as well as the school’s chosen theme. I’ve got some ideas for different content areas, but I’d love to hear yours!

*Apple Stamping with Cut Open Apples

*Seed Investigation:…

Cut an apple in half horizontally (not through the stem side) and keep it out of sight. Ask them to imagine a red/green/yellow (whatever the colour of the apple is) house - it is round, white inside, has a star (the core when it is cut) and a ladder in the middle, and sometimes a small creature might live inside it. Have them think about this and see if they can guess what this ‘house’ might be and who might live in it. Then produce the halved apple and let them pass the pieces around, examining them to identify the star and connect the clues and the inhabitant. This can be extended on in so many ways.

What one thing do you wish you’d been told before taking on a class by yourself for the first time?

From a clutch of 15 in a centre of 35, to a rumble of 30 in a school of 200. Monday morning was a maddening maze of nerves and faces upon faces upon faces with more information to take in than a human mind should be able to hold. But, I survived!
Looking forward to processing over the weekend before returning to tackle this challenge head-on. Rainbows and butterflies, sunshine and smiles: Spring is here - time to make everything thrive!

If they can do the worksheet, they don’t need it. If they cant, it won’t help them.
Marilyn Adams (via teachersintiaras)
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