Today, I graciously take the champagne flute from "me minus one year" and pass along yet another toast to "me + one year".
Today's first day was a hundred times better than last year's first day.
But it was still a first day.
And, as I always do, I came away questioning both how and why I teach these little ones. 1st grade was hard last year with my... let's say "challenges"... and my K/1 split was hard for its own reasons. But today I remembered how hard, really really hard, it is to teach Kindergarten on the first day of school. I taught a straight Kindergarten class my first year of teaching -- in fact then, I had two first days of schools with two different classes. It was difficult, but it was my first year.
As one kid screeeeeeeeeeeamed out the hall door after her Grandmother, just as one other kid bolted out the back door after his mom, I took a deep breath and tried to remind myself that it gets better. Several kids sobbed as the day went on. I tried to read a book, but got through about two pages before their attention spans hit the fan and I spent the rest of the book stopping at each sentence to remind them how to sit. One kid, who I have yet to hear speak a word (and that's after a half hour testing session on Monday with him), spit in my face. A few absolutely cannot grasp the idea of walking in a line.
By the time I walked them through the lunch line and got them seated, I had eight minutes to walk the block and a half back to my classroom and eat lunch myseslf.
After I gained eight minutes of perspective during lunch, I started to find the day amusing instead of stressful. Read along as I show you just a few snippets from life with 25 five year olds...
As I tried to talk about our classroom rules, the discussion went a bit like this:
me: Who can think of one thing we should always do when we have a question?
a few kids: Raise your hands!
me: Very good! We should raise our hands!
most of the kids now raise their hands
me: Well, not right now, just when you have something to say or a question to ask while I'm teaching
hands are still raised
me: Ok, put your hands down, let's write this on the chart.
one kid still has his hand raised
me: Do you have a question?
me: Ok, what's your question?
kid: I like racoons.
me: Cool. But let's stick to talking about raising our hands.
most of the kids raise their hands again
me: Ok, put your hands down...
And on, and on, and on it went.
We played, had fun, went to recess, and things started to look up. Then I had the genius idea to play Simon Says. So... most of these kids are just now experiencing school, and even just a social setting with other kids. So lots of them did not know how to play Simon Says. Yeah, try to explain how to play that...
me: So, I'm Simon and when I say "Simon Says" you are supposed to do what I say. But if I don't say Simon Says, you don't do what I say. If you do something when you're not supposed to, you sit down.
the kids sit down
me: Ok, don't sit down now, we're going to play the game. Stand up.
me: Simon says touch your head
they touch their heads
me: Simon says jump up and down
they jump up and down
me: Simon says touch your nose
they touch their noses
me: Touch your shoes
they all touch their shoes
I laugh and say... "But Simon didn't say!"
they look at me like I'm crazy
This time when I get to "But Simon didn't say!" one smarty kid says, "but you said you're Simon and you said it."
The other kids nod like that was totally obvious and I'm the big idiot for not getting it.
me: "Who knows the hokey pokey?"
So, once again, here's to me one year from now, somehow you taught these kids something somewhere along the way.
Or at least they eventually learned Simon Says.