Thursday, June 8, 2017

Throwback Thursday: My First Class

To My Sweet First Class,

     I can't believe we are finally here. You are graduating from high school in two days and making the exciting/scary/bittersweet transition to college. You are 12 years older, smarter, and taller (when did that happen?)!  A first class is truly something special. I would not be the educator I am today without the influence of that very first year. In many ways, it made me who I am as a teacher and counselor. 

     I remember the first day of school like it was yesterday. I was awake and dressed by 5:00 am, sitting in my apartment, anxiously ready to leave even though it was much too early. I remember walking into my classroom and seeing everything set up so perfectly and ready for a sweet little class of first graders. I remember the bell ringing, greeting each one of you, the announcements coming on, and saying the pledge. I thought I was really #nailingit, but when the announcements ended you all turned to look at me. I remember thinking, "Oh no, what do I do now? What do I say? I have to say something, they are all looking at me." They don't teach you that part in college. I squeaked out a standard, "Good morning, class." and you all responded, "Good morning, Miss Bulino." and just like that, we were on our way.

    It's kind of weird to think about it this way, but I was only 23 when I met you. Just a few years older than you are now. I remember my mom being very concerned about making sure I looked "professional" on picture day. She took me shopping and somehow convinced me that this was a good look...
At the reunion, I heard some of you laughing at yourselves saying, "Look what I'm wearing." But when I pointed out that what your teacher was wearing was the MOST ridiculous outfit of the bunch, we had a good laugh #drapes #whatnottowear. Let's try this again...
     Honestly, that year was sort of a blur. I felt like I was constantly a step behind my team, trying to figure out the best ways to teach you. I stayed late, I cried, I worried constantly, but in the end, we all turned out just fine. I seem to remember the little things, cute little things you said and did. All of those "little things" really just turned out to be me trying to understand who you were and how to treat you so that I didn't totally mess you up. It also turned into the life long lesson of the importance of building a classroom community of respect and love. Some of the things I remember and will always cherish were...   
Reading Magic Tree House...
 Our trip to the zoo...

 The King Midas Golden Feast... 

And of course, Dance Party Friday. Anyone down to do the Tooty Ta?

     The thing is, I am sure I taught you some things along the way that year, but you taught me more than I can ever thank you for. You taught me to be a teacher. From you, I learned that teaching is not just a job, it is a way of life.  You taught me to have passion for my job and to put my whole heart into every single child every single day. You taught me the most valuable lesson of all, if your students know you love them, the rest is a piece of cake.

     Way back in 2006 on the last day of school, I had you write something you learned. Here is a little then and now comparison to remind you how far you have come. Sidenote- I have not changed any of your spelling or grammar from your first grade writing because it is just too cute! 


Then: I learned how to spell "because" and I am glad I learned devishoin.
Now: You are full of life and your smile lights up the room. I can tell you have a great sense of humor and life has great things in store for you. You radiate happiness and Oklahoma State will be a better place with you there.


Then: I learned so much stuff I had not know before I came to first grade
Now: You are the valedictorian and headed to Harvard. I am so glad I was able to be a tiny fraction of your educational experience. Your dedication, perseverance, and positive attitude are going to carry you through life. You have always been kind, loving, and compassionate and those are the most important things in life.


Then: I learned two numder digites and lots of other new other new things.
Now: You literally glow. When I am around you,  I can't help but smile. You are kind to everyone you see and make everyone feel included. Minnesota is lucky to have you and you are sure to warm up the cold weather with your happy smile. 


Then: I learned to be respectful because it is nice.
Now: You are still respectful and of course, nice as usual. You have a quiet humility about you and still, have a great sense of humor. I am so proud of all that you have accomplished. I know that you will be successful in all your future endeavors.


Then: I learned about Kind Midas because I lik kings.
Now: I hope to see you again soon. Come see me at Beverly if you get a chance. 


Then: I learned math because you get to do 2+4=6 that is cool.
Back then, you had a lot of love for the Longhorns and I remember our playful banter during college football season.
Now: The college rivalries have only changed just a little bit and now you are committed to Arkansas. I can't wait to see you on the football field and even though my love for the Red Raiders runs deep, my love and respect for you run deeper. You can count on me to be cheering you on this fall. The next few pics captured by Katie Phillips are the perfect representation of our conversation...

Blake: I mean, I'm sorry Miss Bulino, but Arkansas is just better than Tech.

Me: What did you just say? **Cue the smack on the arm

In the end, I will forgive you and your Arkansas pride. I am so proud of you!!!!


Then: I learned a lot and will yous my nolig in 2nd grade.

Now: I am so sad I didn't get to see you at the reunion. You were always giving me little tips and tricks that you picked up in Kindergarten. I will never forget that during the first week of school I was letting everyone choose whatever color of paper they wanted for a project and you said, "Don't let them pick, it's going to take too long. You just need to say, you get what you get, and you don't throw a fit."
I have used that advice since that day and it has helped more than you could know. 


Then: Love is friends and being nice to other people.
Now: I hope you are doing well and have not lost your witty sense of humor. 


Then: I learned to add and subtract or I would not know sums to 18.
Now: You have turned into such a kind, respectful, polite young man. Your dedication, hard work, and empathy for others will take you far in life. I can't wait to see all that you accomplish. Your smile says it all. You are open, happy, and thoughtful.


Then: I learned a hole lot of things like math and other things.
Now: I was so sad I didn't get to see you at the reunion. Your friends all say that you are doing well and that you are just as kind and considerate as you always were. I hope you know I am thinking of you and that you achieve all of your dreams.


Then: I learned how to rite and read because I love to read and rite.
Now: You are still just the sweetest thing and I loved chatting with you and your mom at the reunion. I will always remember your Nutcracker performance and your sweet hugs. I am glad to see that you are still the empathetic, compassionate girl you always were. I am thankful for kind souls like you.  


Then: Love is somone you uprisheyat. Like your friends and your ancestors.
Now: Your classmates told me you are doing so well and I am proud of you for always working hard and staying true to yourself. Come say hi before you head off to college.


Then: I learned to reading because it is fun.
Now: I hope you still have your love of reading. I will never forget when reading sparked for you and you couldn't get your nose out of a book. That is why teaching first grade is the best.


Then: I learned math because now I can add in the one hundreds.
Now: You have so much poise and grace. I want to be like you when I grow up ;). I will always remember that sweet, quiet little girl who had a smile as big as Texas. I love seeing how your personality has blossomed and the kind way you treat everyone around you.


Then: Love is family because they take care of you.
Now: I have so enjoyed getting to know your family over the years through our many connections. Even though you only came to my class for part of the day, I loved every minute and have loved watching you turn into a beautiful woman inside and out. 


Then: I learned math. So much math.
Now: You are full of life and sparkle. You have charisma and that is something that cannot be taught. Keep that happy, loving attitude and it will take you farther than all that math you learned. I hope you have so much fun at OK State and know that Stillwater is going to be a better place when you are there.


Then: I learned about whales because my favorite animal is an Orca.
You were always teaching me something and it was usually pretty funny. You loved animal research and often came to school with a new piece of information you had learned the night before.
Now: I cannot believe how grown up you are! I almost didn't recognize you, but it was that same sweet smile from the picture above that reminded me. As you head off to A&M I hope you take your kind heart, wealth of knowledge, and happy attitude with you. I hope you never lose your love of learning.


Then: I learned math and anything eles you need to learn in first grade.
Now: One of the best experiences I had was having you help with my summer school class last year. You will make an amazing counselor because you truly care about people and have the heart to be kind and patient with kids. The lives you influence will be infinite, but know that you started by influencing mine for the better.


Then: I learned about adding two big numbers together like 23+49=72.
Now: I hope you are doing well and still cheering for the Mavs! I also hope you are still the little jokester you always were. 


Then: I learned math, frashins, and to count by 2, 5, 10, and 20 because I like to do that.
You were a joy to teach even if it came with a little mischief. On the very first day of school, I was giving the class a tour of the school and you said, "Blah, blah, blah. We already know this. We went to school here last year, remember." I cracked up and realized you were right. And hey, I hadn't been there the year before and that was when I started to realize you were going to teach me more than I could ever teach you.
Now: I almost cried when I saw you at the race. You are so grown up and still so sweet and kind. I hope you will always have a love for Pat Green and that you stay in touch. Some day, we need to sit down and I can tell you sooooo many funny stories of your days in first grade.
     That's it. The class of 2017. My very first class. You hold a special place in my heart. Know that wherever you do, whatever you do, I will be cheering you on. Please keep in touch and let me know the many successes that are bound to come your way. Thank you again for everything. It's not goodbye, it's see you later.

"So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 100 percent guaranteed). Kid, you'll move mountains."
~Dr. Seuss

Monday, June 5, 2017

End of School Countdown

The Elementary Nerd and I both wanted to blog about our videos, mostly to have them saved in one place for posterity. We had so much fun making them and hope you enjoyed them too. Here they are counting down from 10. Enjoy! 

#10 The Final Countdown

We decided on "The Final Countdown" song to kick off this series of videos. We had so much fun finding things in groups of 10, 9, 8, etc. And were so excited that so many people wanted to play along with us. 

#9 Love Potion Number Nine

This was the very first video we filmed. The backdrop of our Valentine's celebration at school and the awesome chocolate fountain provided by the PTA made for the perfect setting.

#8 CelebrEIGHT

We had a hard time coming up with a song that had the number 8 in it. We thought about 8 days a week but couldn't get really excited about that one. One day while driving to school, I was just listening to every random song in my iTunes library when "Celebrate" came on. I called Kimmie at 6:40 am with my idea. Most people would be super annoyed at a hyped up phone call that early in the morning, but she enthusiastically said "YES" and we started planning right then and there on the phone. Her idea for backward videos was genius and made this video beyond epic. The kids at school thought we had magical powers after watching this one. 

#7 James Bond, 007

Kimmie and I were sitting in my office one day trying to think of a song for seven, when suddenly she shouted out, "James Bond!!" It was the perfect fit and we had SO. MUCH. FUN. filming this one. We stayed at school one evening until 6:30 filming this one and neither of us even batted an eye about the late night because we were having a blast. We laughed so hard we cried and in the end, this was one of our favorites. Also, exploring the back rooms of the school was both scary and entertaining.

#6 Summer of '69

This was was sort of extremely last minute. We couldn't ever really decide on the song and got busy with filming other videos and doing our actual jobs. So we wound up having to film this one two days before it was scheduled to go live. You can see that some parts had to be filmed at home and we had to scrounge up some summer time baby pics too. We got it done and it turned out better than we ever thought it would. 

#5 Walk 500 Miles

This was the second video we filmed and our editing has come a long way since then. We used the amazing backdrop of the 4th grade writing camp and it was perfect. When we decided that we needed to "row a boat" and I told Kimmie to get in the trash can, she hopped right in #dedication. Side note:  I was out for a training during the writing camp days and came back to campus from across town so we could film. The set up was just too good to miss. 

 #4 Forever on the Dance Floor

We studied a ton of Chris Brown choreography videos for this one, but wow can that guy move. Our attempts to look like CB were pretty awful, but we got some great blooper material out of it. We were trying to finish this one the week before Kimmie got married and quickly realized it wasn't going to get finished at school. So, we brought our video ridiculousness to the wedding and got some amazing footage, as well as some great pics for Kimmie's wedding photographer. It was also Kimmie who noticed the emojis hanging in the cafeteria from an art class project. We loved using them in the video and so did her first graders. 

#3 3am & Indoor Recess

We started out thinking we were going to use "3" by Britney, but Kimmie smartly suggested that this song may be too suggestive in nature. She was right! We eventually decided ""3 am" by Matchbox Twenty was a much better bet. We had just lived through a ton of indoor recess because of STAAR testing and spring showers, so this seemed like aa perfect time to film this one. It took quite a bit of time to film and a lot of checking the weather.

#2 Me Too

This one featured so many awesome guest stars. From our awesome PTA to some sassy first graders, very helpful fourth graders, and the two best third grade "fanners" I have ever seen, this one was destined for success. 

 #1 Epic Medley

This one just kind of kept growing. After our attempts at mixing music failed miserably, we had to start back! We actually pulled this one together in about three days, which was pretty miraculous and also stressful. Our favorite part by far was the Backstreet Boys section. I laugh every time I watch it! 

Thanks so much for tuning in. We hope to be back with some more videos very soon. For now, it is time to focus on a little summer R&R. Happy Summer 2017, yall!