My life as a kindergarten enrichment teacher still is a bit of a rollercoaster. Some days are joyous and filled with wonder, hugs, and the magic of childhood. Thankfully most days are good!
Some days are grueling filled with five year old drama kings and queens, bandaids, administrative work, and skeptical coworkers. (One of my assistants has a habit of grumbling about my hands on and up to your elbows in paint messy open ended activities I have on offer. She’s not quite convinced that a constructivist approach that supports student creativity is the ticket. But she suffers nobly for my cause! None of us is perfect, and though she grumbles she also does some great work with the children.) I still haven’t found a work-life balance with this job. Too many hours working, and not enough family and relaxation time.
I have to admit that Thanksgiving break was absolutely necessary to my sanity. It was something to be able to sleep in four days in a row! I cooked up a feast on Thanksgiving and enjoyed leftovers with my family all weekend. We played board games, went to see a movie, and I read a novel. Boy did I feel indulged and revved up to get back to work this week!
Pinterest has been my greatest teaching aid this year. I can search a topic like hedgehogs and get all kinds of ideas and resources to share with my students. I make new boards each week to organize my curriculum ideas and themes. I can turn my ipad over to my assistant and say, “Use the cloud board to find the video I selected on types of clouds, and show photos of the different types of clouds.” This week was M week and one day I read the Steven Kellogg book, “How Much is a Million”. The next day I was able to show a wonderful video I pinned from You Tube of James Earl Jones reading one of my favorite books Millions of Cats (by Wanda G’ag).
I still sit on the fence about whether I should continue in this position next year or go back to my homeschool groups. Part of me reminisces so fondly about those students and the classes I taught, and part of me is really enjoying the depth of the relationships I’m developing with my students because I’m with them five days a week. I think that next year will be so much easier and hopefully less time consuming, because of all the ground work I’m laying this year. The paycheck is a major carrot, but I often wistfully think about the block collection I left behind, the small classes with almost perfectly behaved children, and the time I had to create some of my own art.
I think the highlight of this first week of December was yesterday when one of my students that often seems inattentive to the lessons I present was playing with some yarn pom poms. I had put out the pom poms for a craft activity and she was enjoying sorting them by color and pairing them up. She said, ” Look teacher, this white one doesn’t have a buddy.” This absolutely thrilled me, because several weeks ago I introduced the concept of odd and even numbers by putting on my own drama queen moment with some plastic bear math manipulatives. I made the bears cry when there was an odd amount and a bear was left without a buddy. ( When I asked my assistant to use the same approach in the afternoon she wasn’t thrilled. My assistant really pooh poohed my lesson saying, “Oh they can’t possibly understand that.” I had to grit my teeth, but I also realize she has her own way of presenting information which suits her style and personality.) I wasn’t happy because I could secretly gloat about my assistant’s comment (well maybe not entirely true!), but because my approach had connected with the children. A parent was dropping off his daughter and I shared with him the “odd/even” pom pom moment. He confirmed that his daughter is also making connections and discussing what she’s doing in the kindergarten enrichment program on a regular basis at home.
Each day I think about supplies and equipment I’d love to acquire for my class. Most of the time I’m too busy setting up hands-on activities or putting materials away to sit down at the computer and order them. When I’m not at work I’m at home cooking playdough, searching my bookshelves for that certain book I want to read to the children, gathering materials I need from my garage which is my teaching supply warehouse, or looking at Pinterest.
Tomorrow is Friday which is our art studio day and I’m glad to have made it through another week!