And by O.M.G., I mean oh my goodness! 😉
We are a rare breed. We dry homesick tears, patch skinned-up knees and elbows, supervise two restrooms at once, and tie millions of shoes. We soothe troubled children and we soothe troubled parents. We make sure no one has “snack” for “lunch”, we say get a vegetable twenty times, we open water bottles, chip bags, and milk cartons, and then we wolf our food down like starving animals because we have ten minutes left to eat. We sing. We dance. We act like goofy goofballs to get our kiddos excited about school. We monitor. We lead the line. We run sometimes when we have a “flight risk”. We cry. We hug. We listen. We assess. We plan. We mentor. And while we are doing all of this, we teach.
We are Kindergarten teachers.
I’ve been teaching K-5 now for ten years, and while I am by no means what I’d consider a “seasoned” teacher, I think I have enough experiences in my back pocket to compile a list of things that my fellow kindergarten and preschool teachers can appreciate. The list is not exhaustive, and I’d love it if any other Kindergarten or pre-K teachers would contribute in the comment section below!
- Appreciate- Here are some things that Kindergarten teachers appreciate.
- Bathroom breaks (for adults)
- Being called by name, rather than “Teacher” by our sweet kindergarten friends
- Garbage bags, and really any classroom donation at any time
- A phone call or email when your child tells you something crazy that happened at school…call or email before jumping to conclusions and we’ll work it out together!:)
- Occasional “duty free” lunches
- Parents who are patient with us 🙂
- Winning grants for classroom resources
- Our students–they are our closest five year old friends for 10 months of the year!
- Believe- Here are some things that I personally believe Kindergarten teachers should always do.
- Talk nicely to students. They may be five years old, but they are people, and they deserve to be spoken to nicely like everyone else.
- Open their food packages if they ask you to. This is my personal belief and it may not be shared by all K teachers. Yes, I think when a child asks his or her teacher to help open a milk carton, the teacher should help the child. This is a good opportunity to help the child learn to open it himself or herself by modeling and helping, instead of fussing and telling them to get a friend to do it. I always go down the line and ask my kids what needs opening before I sit down to eat. And let me just say, tiny mustard packages are the pits. I can’t even open those suckers!
- Listen. This is something I have had to learn and I am still working on. Listening to a five year old talk about their baby puppy (which may or may not be real) for the fifth time is hard for me to do when I’ve got a jillion things bumbling around in my mind. But listening to my children has helped me develop relationships that I strongly believe have cut down on discipline problems in my classroom. I’ve also learned the importance of listening to parents. Who knows the child better than his or her parents?
- Pray. As a Christian, I pray for my children every day. I pray for our daily plans and commit them to the Lord. He takes care of us and makes our days bright.
- Confessions-Here are some confessions from this Kindergarten teacher.
- One time during my student teaching, I taught a whole class the greater than and less than symbols backwards. I did a whole lesson, ya’ll, and it was engaging and fun, and it was wrong. Those poor third graders. And now, I have moved down to a safer level of learning, Kindergarten. 😉 (We fixed it, by the way!)
- Sometimes during my small group instruction time, I just sit in my chair and let the kids talk to me the entire time instead of blending and segmenting phonemes. It’s usually their favorite thing to do.
- I used to think that Kindergarteners wouldn’t be able to “read” to themselves and be engaged for ten to twelve minutes while I taught small groups, so I gave them lots of busy work that was meaningless. Now, I believe in them and show them how to read “even when you don’t know the words” and they love reading their favorite books.
- 1 Thing to Do Every Day
- Speak to each child in your room. Look in their eyes, smile at them, and speak to them. Every day.
- 2 Things to Never Ask A Kindergarten Teacher…Please
- “Did you actually have to go to college to teach kindergarten? For, like, two years? No? Four years, seriously?” Yes, seriously. And many K teachers that I know have a Master’s Degree, and Education Specialist Degree, or a Doctorate Degree. Seriously.
- “So what do you do for the rest of the day since you don’t work all day?” Well, I’m on official duty from 7:25-3:25, which is 8 hours. Then, I stay and prepare for the next day for however long it takes. I’d say that’s a full day’s work!:)
- 3 Things That Make Me Come Back to School Every Day
- Watching the lightbulb come on for a child who is learning to read and remembering that this child didn’t know how to hold a pencil, sit crisscross, or push in his chair at the beginning of the year.
- Seeing a parent cry happy tears when they read their child’s scribbly message and for the first time it makes sense. “I luv yoo. Yoo r gud perents.”
- Getting a hug and happy “Bye! I’ll see you later!” from my five year old friends. I’ll be back tomorrow for sure.
- Oh my goodness, did that just happen in my room?
- We hear a ringing sound, and a child goes and pulls a cell phone out of her backpack. “It’s my sister, Mrs. Givens. Hold on, let me talk to her.” Sure. Just let me know when you’re done. Alrighty, then.
- A mouse falls out of the ceiling. Yikers. Pandemonium. Mostly from me.
- On a nature walk in the park, we get chased by two black snakes. Again, pandemonium, and it’s mostly from me.
- One child has a potty accident, one throws up, and one has an asthma attack. All three simultaneously.
- Oh my goodness, did that child just say that to me?
- Uh, Mrs. Givens, you’ve got a nut in your whistle (referring to the ball that gives the whistle it’s sound).
- Mrs. Givens, there are water fountains in the boys’ bathrooms! They’re on the wall!
- My mother freaked out when I said you were 22 Mrs. Givens (during my first year).
- You are so old, Mrs. Givens. You’ve got to be at least in 6th grade.
- I just want to go see my pet lizard. No, he’s not at home. He’s in my backpack. In a Cheeze-Itz box.
- Mrs. Givens, what if you were my mommy? Wouldn’t that be good?
- Oh my goodness, that’s the sweetest thing in the world. It’s why I’m a kindergarten teacher.
- Saying “packpack” instead of “backpack”
- Saying “cuvvy” for “cubby”. They all do it.
- Saying “Gave” for “Gabe”. Again, they all do it.
- Watching my kids grow into a classroom community…helping each other, loving each other, being responsible for our classroom belongings.
- Hearing my kids tell me that I’m pretty, funny, and smart. Hearing them tell me they love me.
I thank the Lord for helping me to make my days with my students count. I thank Him for helping me to take every minute I’m given and use it for the good of my precious friends. I thank Him for my fellow Kindergarten teachers, who understand certain things that no one else but the Lord can understand. I thank Him for the privilege to spend my days doing what I love in a wonderful, magical, beautiful place called Kindergarten.
No song tonight. My fellow K and pre-K teachers, give me a shout out and let me know some of your special and crazy stories! Be blessed!