Kindergarten

Over the past month, I’ve been subbing a few days a week – mostly at the elementary schools. It’s been entertaining and eye opening to say the least. I’ve taught art, 5th grade, music, 1st grade, P.E., 3rd grade, and last but not least . . . kindergarten.

I majored in secondary education, and there were reasons for that. A large one being that I do not want to touch things, like shoestrings, that are wet with an unknown substance.

I was barely 22 when I started teaching and had students who were 18 & 19 years old, and I will take a bunch of unenthusiastic 18 year olds over a group of 5 year olds ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. Kindergarten is its own beast . . . and I say that with a great deal of love, but it truly is something in a league of its own. Even the difference between kindergarten and 1st grade is mind blowing to me – it’s amazing what a year of structure/learning/social skills does for kids.

When I started subbing, I told myself that I could handle any grade for one day; after all, it’s just one day! I have since revised my ideology — I can handle any grade EXCEPT kindergarten.

Imagine standing in front of 20 small people, half of them staring at you while the other half could care less who you are or what you have to say. And then imagine yourself trying to not only talk but to teach!!! . . . Sally has taken Mary’s pencil, Jimmy is shredding an eraser in his lap, Suzy is coloring all over the desk, and then Bill & Martha have run over to the sink to splash each other. And that’s all before 8 o’clock.

When I finally had them semi-entertained enough to work on their math, it was time to go to recess. I learned very quickly that they may be little, but they are fast. I was a nervous wreck trying to walk these little people through the hallways. Forget a quiet line, I just wanted everyone to make it from point A to point B. When we finally made it outside for recess, traveling at about 1 tile block per minute, I realized that we seemed to be missing coats. Yep, back inside we went . . . CUE THE WATERWORKS! We eventually made it back out for recess and no one seemed to remember the emotional turmoil I had just put them through.

After recess, we had to do a little more learning before lunch. I tried my best tricks and learned that Simon Says was my best bet. For afternoon recess we stayed inside and played; I pretended like it was raining, but it definitely was not. It went well until a little girl popped a little boy in the mouth. She didn’t deny it, but she also wasn’t sorry. The boy finally said, “Hurry up and just say that you’re sorry so we can go play!” So, she did and off they went.

The end of the day was there before I knew it, which meant that we had all survived. I felt like I had accomplished some great feat, and they didn’t bat an eye.

As I was sitting in the classroom after they had gone home, I thought of the crazy teacher from Billy Madison. You know, the one who eats the glue while the kids are at recess. And I thought to myself, ‘I get it now. After one day, I understand.’ To do what kindergarten teachers do every single day has to be one of the most exhausting, selfless, and borderline crazy things that a person could possibly do.

So, with all of that being said, thank a kindergarten teacher . . . even though it’s not nearly enough. And if you’re still trying to find some last-minute Christmas gifts for one, pick one out that rhymes with vine AND deer!

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