This week, I finished teaching a year of morning kindergarten with 24 students. On Monday, I watched them line up and walk out of the classroom as Kindergarteners and will see 16 of them in my first grade class next fall. They walked away from me more independent, more capable, more confident and a few inches taller! They learned about reading and math and how to work with other people.
They were not the only ones that learned new things this year!
I learned that working 1/2 time isn’t as easy as it looks! There was a tremendous amount of work that I had to do on my own time and there was less time to do the lessons and assessments with my students during the school day.
I learned that K students really are babies when they arrive in the fall for the first time in a “big school.” For some of them, it was the first time away from their parents.
I learned never again to criticize the K teacher that might be hesitant to approach a parent about concerns. Although I did it, it doesn’t make you popular to be the first person to tell a mother that their child struggles in one area…or more.
I learned that K students don’t have the stamina that first grade students do…even at the end of year.
I learned that no matter how busy the day is, they want to hear me read stories every day and they want to see me smile and laugh even when I am up to my eyeballs with work
I learned that Kindergarten students really do start out with expectations that school and learning are fun. Somehow, we take that away from some of them. It isn’t our intention, but it is our high expectations, large work load, focus on test scores and reduced time for play.
Professionally, it was a year for change and I stretched myself in ways that I hadn’t done in a long time. That was exciting and I am thankful for that. This year’s experience helps me better understand my incoming first graders in a way that I hadn’t before; I will share my observations and thoughts also with my team to help them better understand the incoming first grade child.
Personally, working part-time allowed me the opportunity to be with my son in the afternoons. I loved walking home with him and being the first to hear the good and the bad of the day. As I type these words, my heart hurts a little that I won’t have this same chance next year. This is especially true when I look at recently taken photos and I see the way he’s growing and maturing way too fast.
I don’t know if it is just me or the fact that I’m a teacher, but I am already thinking about things that I will change or improve for next fall. The opportunity to start the year with many of my returning students is exciting! It isn’t every day that teachers get to see two years of learning and to look back and reflect on SO much growth!