Tuesday, January 1, 2013

On teaching kindergarten

I have a healthy fear of small children, especially the collective "consciousness" of 17 of them confined to one room in a school.  You are either created to teach kindergarten, or you are like the rest of us 99.99% of the world who are not.  So, it is a small miracle that I survived my afternoon of subbing in a kindergarten class.  "How bad could 2.5 hours be?", was my rationale for taking the job.  And I need the money.  Actually, it wasn't that bad.  I learned a few things.  My necklace impressed the girls.  They oo-ed and ah-ed at it's sparkling properties and wanted to touch the thing that reminded them of "lovely jewels".  Except for that one girl who could spot a knock-off for a mile. "That's not real jewels - it's fake.  I bet it is made from beads", is what she proclaimed across the classroom.  
Another kid said I talk funny, but I get than from any class I teach. Apparently I just could not quite say Ethan's name properly.  "It's Ethaaaaaan, Mrs Pen".  I knew I should not have told them my name rhymed with Pen.   I was also told I teach differently.  You CANNOT mess up the schedule and read a book before song time when the board says otherwise.  I asked my special helper to change the board, which made everyone a bit nervous.  I wonder what stunt this Mrs Pen is going to pull next?  I managed to dash the hopes of those dreamers twice when most of them decided they didn't like the name stickers I made.  Actually, just one kid didn't like them and the others just decided to copy.  I heard the word "copy cat" used a lot today.  And I told them I had a special surprise at the end of the day.  I should have said special visitor because they all assumed I had edible, candied treats.  Shaunna the Sheep was not quite as good as they were expecting. I had the sheep stuffed in a bag and let them come up one by one to feel inside and guess what it was.  That's means EVERYONE has to have a turn..... except for the girl who was so scared that my special visitor would be 'ouchy' and would bite.  She started crying when I called her name, even though her hand was raised.  When I pulled Shaunna out of the bag, one kid in the front yelled out, "that's not a sheep, that's just a stuffy. That's not a very good surprise".  I think the crying girl was relieved and so I let her hold the stuffed animal while I read a book about sheep. And finally, my sister was right - it really does take 20 minutes to pack up at the end of the day.  There are zippers to zip and mitts to unfold and envelopes to stuff, while simultaneously stopping one boy from head butting the sweet girl in front of him with his helmet, and another boy from climbing on the furniture, with a girl clinging to my legs in adoration and another expressing how glad she is that her "real" teacher will be back tomorrow. 
Seriously, it is one thing to control a kindergarten class and to design activities for them to do.....but to TEACH them???   That is something else altogether and requires seriously mad skills (and A LOT of patience).  Mostly my eyes just glazed over as I walked around and watched them try to print letters and write their names.  I was just glad they were sitting quietly and not peeing their pants or picking their noses.  There was a lot of nose picking. To actually sit with one child and help them form letters properly and hold the pencil while 16 others go a little crazy around you......that just seems impossible in the eyes of this high school teacher. A huge cheer goes out to all those amazing kindergarten teachers.

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