Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Beginning of the Beginning

I'm not sure how it's happened that the first week and a half of school has happened and I haven't had a chance to blog. Keeping up with my three year old and my six month old paired with the beginning of the year exhaustion has left me with lots of blog posts running through my head and very little time to sit down and put them on paper. This year I'm running our local screening and working with a variety of students and classes throughout the building but I do not have my own caseload. I love working with different students in different grades, but my heart, especially this time of year, belongs to kindergarten.

If you are not a kindergarten teacher it is impossible to fully grasp the monster that is the first month of kindergarten. These teachers are taking babies- children who until a few weeks ago spent a blissful five years with their families, in day cares or preschools, napping in the afternoon, eating delicious snacks, playing games, and giggling with friends. Suddenly they are in a class with twenty plus other kids also competing for the adult's attention. They are expected to do whatever this adult says even if it makes no sense to them whatsoever, and they can't just wander around and play with whatever they see. If they want to speak they have to raise their hand, if they go anywhere it has to be in a line where they have to stand behind some kid who walks too slow and somehow not step on his feet. They have to walk in this line over and over again to practice for this thing called a fire drill- which is crazy because there is no fire but all the adults act like there is one and get really grouchy if they talk- even if they are simply pointing out that there is no fire. While practicing the fire drill they can actually see the playground and breath the fresh air but they cannot go running freely towards the slide. Even though it is RIGHT there. If they do the adults get crazy mad. They have to eat on a schedule. They can't nap. They have to stay in one room unless an adult says otherwise. They can't tell the teacher about their brand new shoes or their baby brother's birthday next week or that they don't like the color orange whenever the thought pops into their head. There are bells and signals and songs and books and directions and directions and directions. Their little worlds are completely turned upside down. Let's not forget that some of them barely speak English and are doing all of these crazy new rituals in a foreign language.

In a month the kindergarten classrooms will be smooth running machines. They will look like what we think school should look like. But the first few weeks? Those babies are having their worlds rocked. For those of us who get to pop in and out of the classrooms to help it's cute and entertaining. For their teachers- well, I hope they are all enjoying large glasses of wine and being pampered at home every evening. They are introducing students to their school careers, patiently and kindly setting the tone for their school journey. It's messy, exhausting and extremely important. Every one of those teachers should be given a full body massage at the end of September.


Educators' News said...

Possibly one of your very best postings. I absolutely love your description of what happens to kindergartners in the first weeks of school.

Jenny said...

As one teaching kindergartners for the first time, this made my day. It put into words a lot of the vague, loose thinking I was doing about what was going on for me and my kiddos. Thank you for that.

organized chaos said...

Jenny- I've been thinking about you a lot these last two weeks whenever I am in kindergarten. Can't wait to hear how it is going!

jwg said...

If you really want to have some fun come visit a new class of three year olds starting school for the first time. The tears! The wet pants! The clinging parents! It's loads of fun and if it is a traditional nursery school where the kids attend only two or three days a week the gap between school days means every day is a first day for a while. The saving grace is three year old cuteness.