Thursday, August 23, 2007

Teaching Kindergarten

In 1990, when I was first interviewing for a teaching job, after the initial interview process, I didn’t get any calls from principals for awhile. By July, I was beginning to worry. Then one Friday I got the call. A principal wanted to interview me for a position. I called him right back and we set up a time for an interview. As he was hanging up, he said, “By the way, it’s for kindergarten…” click.

Now they are pretty desperate for teachers, but back then they told us that we should take the first job we were offered if we REALLY wanted to teach. And that after a year we could transfer within the district if we still wanted. So I took it. Now, I had never spent much time with 5 year olds, sad to say, not even my own.

I figured that I just needed to act like I knew what I was doing. After all, how hard could it be? and the kids and the parents didn’t need to know that it was my FIRST year teaching….

And I thought I was pulling it off very well. Until I had a small conversation with one of my kid’s mothers at the end of the day. It went something like this:

“You know, Mr. B, I think you are going to make it.”

In my mind I say, “Huhh?” verbally I said, “Why, what do you mean?”

And she said, “Well, you don’t have that haunted look in your eyes anymore………”

I went on to teach kindergarten for another 3 years after that. At the time, it was half day and we had 30 plus kids in the morning, and another 30 plus kids in the afternoon. I eventually got a bit burned out.

Now, the second time around, things are a bit different. We have around 25 kids, and it’s all day, so only one batch of kids. They learn much more in the whole day setting. Most of my kids have learned as much by winter break as my half day kids learned all year.

And kindergarten is different in other ways as well, as kindergarten teachers, we sometimes say that kindergarten is the new first grade. It’s all about reading, writing and math now, much more structured. The curriculum might have changed, but 5 year olds are as goofy as ever. I LOVE the way they view the world. Watch a 5 year old go down the hall. They can’t just walk, it’s skip, twirl, dance, hop, run, and NEVER in a straight line. It’s just how their brains work, and it’s wonderful.   Where did we lose it? It’s not nearly as fun to be an adult.

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