Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm supposed to teach what?

Yesterday was the last day for me to set up my classroom before the big day Monday. Which means I was there from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and still plan on showing up at 7 a.m. on Monday to finish. I left with the worst headache I've had in months and the firm belief that teachers of younger grades have it the hardest. My whole classroom has to be one big welcome center, so that the kids feel at home.

Moreover, I have about five bulletin boards. Have you ever tried to make a bulletin board? There's an unsung art form. It took me at least half an hour to figure out how to find the butcher paper in my school, tear it off that awkward 10-foot metal holder, and then get it to stay and to fit on the cork board. Trim is another half an hour. Jaren did my first round, but the rest looks completely lopsided. Oy.

It's easy to get caught up in all those little things - name tags on cubbies, where to put the crayons, which blocks to put out in the construction center - and put aside the fact that on Monday I have to teach EVERYTHING. As I learned this summer, you could get a kid who will read you the entire "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie," write his name for you and count to 20 backwards... and you can also get the kid that doesn't understand he needs to sit in the circle with the other kids, doesn't know how to hold a crayon, and doesn't know how to ask a question. Actually, that's a popular one. It never, ever, ever occurred to me that some kids simply don't know how to ask a question. Instead, they just say a statement.

Me: "Jane, share with the class what you did this weekend?"
Jane: "I went to the store with my mom."
Me: "That sounds fun. Does anyone have a question for Jane?"
Student 1 raises his hand and is called on: "I like the store!"
Me: "That's nice Joe, but we are asking Jane questions to find out more about what she did. Does anyone else have a QUESTION for Jane?"
Student 2: "My mom takes me to the store!"
Me (inwardly): Oy.

There are actually a million things like that that I didn't think of as an early childhood teacher. Here's a brief rundown:
1. How do you explain the idea of a pattern? A rhyme?
2. How do you turn playing into a lesson?
3. How do you teach a lesson when they can only sit still for about 10 minutes?
4. How do you test their knowledge when they can't write?
5. How do you keep a 4 year old awake from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. without a nap?

Part of this is probably the fact that I barely remember kindergarten, let alone pre-k. I know for me, kindergarten was definitely half-day and definitely a joke. I remember in kindergarten my teacher (who, looking back, was a dead ringer for Ricky Ricardo) stapled his finger one day and had to go to the hospital. That's it! Jaren apparently remembers more. He flipped when he saw the Baby Beluga CD on my counter the other day. We listened to it on the ride home, and I have never seen Jaren so innocently happy. Just a pure smile. He was five again and I felt like, ok, maybe these kids will remember some parts of our year together 20 years from now. So, I better go plan something memorable. Apparently Where the Wild Things Are is a big deal?

1 comment:

Celeste Sepessy said...

Um, apparently you don't know what a question is either.

"Me: 'Jane, share with the class what you did this weekend?'"

That seems more like a statement than a question. Hahaha.