Since the first day of my second round of student teaching, I knew that teaching kindergarten was NOT for me. I walked into the classroom of over thirty 4-5 year olds who were all talking and wiggling at the same time and it was at that very moment that I vowed I’d sooner change careers before I taught kinder. Since, it’s been a long running joke about my complete aversion to any grade below 2nd. Kindergarten is probably the most important grade level, but teaching kindergarten is akin to herding bees.
Flash forward to this past week. Jlo and I were asked to do a staff development (classroom demonstrations and unit prep) for some teachers at my school…kindergarten teachers. That meant we would be teaching kindergarten for the week. Me, teaching kinder? Hah! Both Jen and I joked about it the couple of weeks leading up to the training even though we were both a little nervous. We very much believe in the strategies we train (and regularly teach with), so we planned to rely on those to make it through.
On the first day of training, Jen joked that we may love it, and since they don’t have to do standardized testing maybe we’d have a good reason to change grade levels. I rolled my eyes…not a chance.
After introducing ourselves to the class, I started the instruction. Since I do it a lot, I’m fairly comfortable teaching in front of other people, but even so I had a small case of the nerves not knowing what to expect with this squirmy grade level.
Right off the bat we were in for some laughs. We were using reptiles as the subject matter to demonstrate the strategies. While the kids sat with me on the carpet we sounded out the word “reptile” and I chose students to come up to our vocabulary chart and write a letter at a time. After the second student was called on by me pointing at him, I told the class that we didn’t yet know their names, but we’d do a very best to learn them while we were there. The words had no sooner left my mouth when the boy coming up to the chart said, “Well, my name is Valentin.” He was so stinking cute and matter of fact as were the remaining four students who came up after him and also introduced himself. A few moments later, Jen came up to change out the materials and said, “This is going to be fun!”
It was a fun week, but EXHAUSTING! I found the kids to be just darling when they were engaged in something on the rug during our direct instruction. They were in close proximity and weren’t terribly distracted most of the time. However, sending them back to their desk with any direction was chaotic. A simple direction like “Take xyz out of your folder,” turned into anything BUT that direction. Maybe they went to their folder, but then spent time looking at the materials inside and talking about them, maybe they walked over to their friend and sat back down on the carpet together for a chat, maybe they pulled a book out of their desk, or maybe they flung their pencil across the room. It was almost like they quadrupled in numbers when they were sent away from the carpet and EVERYTHING distracted them.
When the alarm went off this morning I sighed loudly not knowing if I could possibly get out of bed and face those busy little beings another day. It made me laugh when I had a text from Jen about her exhaustion this morning as well.
The end of the week finally arrived and the training was a great success. The teachers, who were a little skeptical about the strategies being used in K before the training, were so amazed that their “babies” could do them just fine. But I tell you, I’m going to give my 2nd graders a big hug on Monday and thank them for not being 5 years old.