This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hup 2, 3, 4...Hup 2, 3, 4

I have been going about this whole teaching thing the wrong way. I have been trying to teach letters, numbers, and the days of the week to tiny little people who can't even form a line without violence, tears, and/or someone wetting their pants.

This week I am trying a new strategy. Forget the Letter People, we'll get to them when we do. Forget math and science, there will be plenty of time. This week we are going to practice basic life skills: lining up, going to the bathroom, holding the door for one another, sharing, saying please and thank you, and identifying our own written names.

That's all. That's a lot! My kindermonsters, gartners, cannot do any of those things. It has taken me 3 weeks to realize that I am focusing on all the wrong things. I had to look back to Dr. Robert Fulghum and his humorous book Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. He's right, he probably did learn these things, but so far I am not teaching them.

But I will. Starting this week.

First lesson: Lining up, waiting one's turn, and holding the door for the person behind you. Right now we have a mass exodus with a tremendous amount of pushing and shoving and at least one fist fight. That's okay. I've felt that way before too. I once went to a Janet Evanovich book signing and lost my mind and yelled at the people in front of me for not moving forward quickly enough so that I could move 3 feet and wait for another hour. I have cut off people that "looked slow" to get to a red light first because I didn't want to wait behind them to take off when it went green. And I have definitely let the door slam on the person behind me because I was in too much of a hurry to hold it. I get where the kindermonsters, gartners, are coming from. I can identify.

Next we'll work on going to the bathroom. I have no credibility here at all because as a former irritable bowel syndrome sufferer, I too have waited too long and lived to regret the consequences. I have never exposed myself to any other people in the bathroom as my boy 'monsters, I mean 'gartners tend to do, but then I never had a penis to show off either.

Hopefully we'll get to sharing. Not coveting your neighbor's duplos. Taking turns on the swings. Again, I get it. These little people have nothing on me when I go into someone's house that looks straight out of Pottery Barn magazine. I can covet better than any ol' 5 year old! I don't always want to share either. How about that recent request for baked goods from the PTO? Were my brownies nestled among the rest of the treats? Nope. Didn't feel like sharing. The Salvation Army Santa I passed last Christmas, was my dollar stuffed into his little red kettle? Nope, I was in too much of a hurry to get out of the cold. My purse was zipped and I didn't feel like opening it. I forgot to put money in my pocket so I figured I'd do it on the way out. Yada yada yada. I just didn't feel like sharing.

Finally, maybe by Friday afternoon we'll work on learning to identify our written names. I've had a few identity crises myself and frankly, I would have loved to have someone spell it out for me and say "here, this is who you are!" Sense of self, recognizing who you are in a sea of others. Feeling proud of that self. I have struggled with all of these things, so I get how they are feeling.

If I can truly teach these children patience, generosity, caring, and give them a sense of self I will have taught them lessons so much more valuable than anything else in the world. I will have made a difference in our world, and in theirs.

If I can do those things I still won't have a license, but I'll be a teacher.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Who is in charge around here?

The events of my kindergarten classroom would definitely make a good case for the monkeys running the zoo. Two pee-ings, one pooping, one napping, two terrible temper tantrums, one lost-and-then-thankfully-found-by-the-Grace-of-God, and 22 children running rampant over my clearly-not-suited--for-the-teaching-profession body.

We have only been in school for 7 days.

For some reason the powers-that-be decided that there would be two distinctly different classrooms: one classroom run by a 15 year veteran kindergarten teacher has 21 kids. All 21 of those children attended our school for preschool, their parents are known to the teacher and help out on a daily basis, and they have a young, energetic, 31 year-old teacher's aide who is herself a mom and understands this age group.

Then there is my class: a ragtag group of 22 kids, none of whom attended the same school for preschool, many of whom didn't attend preschool, being schooled by an unlicensed-zero-years-experience "teacher" with the help of an 87 year-old-distinctly-not-energetic-retired-nun.

Is anyone surprised that things are a little...difficult?

The classroom itself was being used as a storage room up until 5 days before school started. Our school has no air conditioning but my classroom has the distinction of having no fans either. It's really a treat for 22 five-year-olds to be stifling away in wool blend pants and jumpers for 6.5 hours a day in a too-small room with no fans. A treat, I tell you.

I like kids. I like being in the classroom. Of course I always figured a classroom to be a place with books, manipulatives, some toys for quiet time and rainy days, a chalkboard or white board, and, for kindergartners at least, some "centers" where they can free explore. My classroom had none of those things. I brought in my daughter's very own carefully saved-loved-and-preserved children's book and I cast a fearful eye toward the bookshelf every day as I see my kindermonsters, um, gartners eagerly handling them. I brought in my own begged, borrowed, and bought toys. I brought in my own white board and manipulatives! Am I teaching in a well-to-do private school or a third world country?

Full day kindergarten. Six and one half hours of "education" for children who were in diapers 2 years ago. It's a crime against our children. It's a crime against our society.

And it's definitely a crime against substitute teachers!