What Teaching Kindergarten Taught Me:
My teaching career spanned seventeen years. Ten years teaching high school and seven years teaching kindergarten. The chasm is not as deep or wide between the two as you might think because a 5-year-old and a 15-year-old have similar behaviors and thought processes.
Some of my most fun and also frightening teaching memories came from my precious kinder kiddos. The first year I made the switch from high school to kindergarten, I was constantly wondering why. Why do these kids not stay seated when I ask them to? Why can’t they line up in a straight line? The answer was easy….those were two skills I needed to teach them. Who knew? As I quickly learned, the first month of kindergarten is solely dedicated to learning processes, systems, and procedures. How to line up, how to make it to the bathroom on time, and how to work together safely and without a meltdown.
Boogers: Sniffles, picking and blowing are all things done with the nose or let’s just call it like it is…boogers. Problems occur when you are not prepared for Booger mania! For example, the sneeze felt round the room; or when known nose picker runs up and hugs your legs passing who knows what onto your skirt; or how about when above said nose picker is chosen line leader for the day and gets to hold the teacher’s hand? I’ve been known to hold the wrist instead, feigning a sore finger. One must always be vigilant to pickers and be prepared for the unplanned grasp of the hand. Although it’s not PC, it would be so cool if you could wear disposable gloves while teaching. Is there any wonder why Kleenex is number one on the school supply list?
Potty talk, potty time and potty problems: For some reason, pee, poop, and fart are the 3 funniest words any five year old knows. Just say the word ‘fart’ and you will cause a group of kindergarteners to collapse into giggles, jokes or stories. For example: Once during an appraisal by my principal, a whole classroom dissolved with one fart.
On this day at story time, I had my 25 five-year-olds sitting perfectly still on the carpet in front of me. We were reading a story which I was incorporating into a fabulous English Language Arts lesson on Sequencing: What comes next in the story. I was sitting smugly in my chair, 25 sets of eyes were all on me, my Principal was sitting at the back of the room taking notes when all of a sudden, in the quiet pause of the story….a precious little girl farted. I tried to bite my lip, keep on reading and act like nothing happened, but one moment later a little one from the back of the group asked, “Did you hear that air biscuit?” One after another the group popped up with other statements: “I did!” “Who did it?” “What’s an air biscuit?” “That wasn’t a biscuit, it was a fart and it smells!”
Picture me calmly (I was really starting to sweat) asking the class to put all eyes back on me and putting my finger to my lips, tried the silent shhhhhh.
Chaos ensued when another child pointed out the culprit…I didn’t want to, but I glanced at the back of the room and saw my principal hysterically laughing and trying to hide his face while his shoulders were uncontrollably shaking. He politely excused himself and said, “Perhaps I can come back later.”
I never really got it back together after that, so we went outside to run and play and return after a bathroom break, and try it again. Sequencing lesson: What happens after a child has a loud air biscuit? Mayhem.
On most days, my classroom was calm and uneventful. You know, those days when you wish Norman Rockwell was capturing the essence of your teaching career? Those seven years in kindergarten were sweet, funny and oh so endearing. I learned a lot about life. I learned boogers and farts are funny at any age. I learned to be more inquisitive, laugh more, see the joy in everyday events and love with all my heart!
Hey, sometimes “poop” happens… but it’s how you deal with it that matters.