My professional challenge started on November 14th, 2017 in the Red Bunny room. Armed with extensive lesson plans, and a nervousness I haven’t had in years, I walked into a classroom of 25 students ready to teach for an entire day. This challenge was completed on March 22, 2018 in the Blue Chipmunk room. During those months I taught in 15 different classrooms, and three different settings. I was a general education teacher, a resource room teacher, and a self-contained teacher for students with Autism. While this was only a brief experience to teaching in the early years, the lessons will be long lasting.
Teachers don’t just ‘teach’ subjects-they teach students. Kindergarten teachers are a breed unlike any other. Dr. Sharon Ritchie explains this as the one grade with the greatest range of gifts and abilities. Students walk into the classroom with diverse preschool experiences, a range of foundational understanding of learning, and a passion for trying anything and everything.
All of my sub notes had extensive notes for specific students (B will take a sensory break at the following four times today, T has a hard time making friends-be very intentional when you structure groups for play centers, W has been working really hard on the number 8-if she gets it…please get really excited for you and for me). The teachers at Woodson work relentlessly to ensure every second of instruction has intentional and alignment to instructional outcomes, while ensure the learning is fun, relevant and engaging.
You are on all the time. From the moment they walked in, until the last bus rolled away, I was bombarded with questions. I learned quickly that students have a hard time connecting with the fact that their principal was once a teacher as well. By day 8 I made sure in my morning meeting to give a brief overview of professional resume and how those skills would help me be their teacher for the day. When I sensed a little fear about how this day was going to go-I showed them the lesson plans the teacher left me-that always seemed to work. Risk-taking is essential to every lesson plan, every paraprofessional saw my terrible artwork, my missing of a sight word during a phonic lesson, and who can forget my epic fail on the study of magnets…I am still rolling my eyes on that one! However each mistake I made modeled for the students-never give up!
This experience also reminded me that nothing is perfect, really nothing. As a leader it is incredibly important to remember that teachers don’t need a perfect principal, but they really want one who is present in the classroom, cafeteria, bus duty and willing to jump in and help whenever needed.
In small group reading one student would ask if the sentence starter was a repeated pattern in the story, and then the next student told me I should really get my hair colored yellow soon as it was starting to look like her grandma’s. I literally hid in the staff bathroom for 3 minutes to listen and respond to a voxer message…and to remember what silence was (don’t judge me, I was self-regulating). Teachers do everything and anything for their students first, they are not only throwing life jackets out, they are making sure each one is safely secured before they even remotely consider their own needs.
I also learned that teachers treat each and every student like they were a newborn baby. Every teacher came in at least once, twice or five times during the day for something they ‘forgot’ (okay now Woodson Teachers-did you really need to come into the room for that pencil :)). Just like a new parent checking on a sleeping child, each teacher had a hard time staying away and genuinely missed their class. The level of a care and compassion I witnessed was incredible-and I know is apparent in every school.
Teachers are a gift. I am starting my spring break with a nagging sore throat from teaching and talking three days in a row last week. The school secretary has left piles of paperwork and tasks I just couldn’t get done when I was in the classroom all day. But if I get the chance to jump back into a lesson this spring-I will do it in a heartbeat. This experience reminded me how dedicated, caring, and passionate educators are about their students.
Friday morning I was in the Blue Chipmunk room completing my classroom morning greetings. When we discussed my classroom teaching from the day before a student raised her hand and stated to her teacher “Please don’t every quit”.
…..I completely agree.
Dream Big, Live Colorfully, and Lead Boldly with whomever you teach!