Friday, April 27, 2007

my job

Can you guess my job? Well, the apple surely gives it away. I have been teaching Kindergarten for eleven years at my local public elementary school. I never would have guessed this would become my profession. I am not envious of any other job; I truly believe that mine is perfect. OK, you know I'm just kidding. The pay sucks. But sometimes it feels more like play than work, and more often than not I look forward to going to school. Can most people honestly say that?

Pictured above, a corner of my desk: potted cyclamen (growing things are good for growing things!), a framed copy of the Kindergarten Teacher's Creed by Betty Peck; apple full of paper clips, a frog homework stamp, and the basic teacher's survival kit: Altoids, lavendar aromatherapy pulse lotion, Burt's Bees cherry lip balm, and Rescue Remedy. In the other corner: my computer, bien sur.

Here's the wall above my desk, where I pin all my special notes and pictures that trickle in. My favorite is the centered one in pink marker: "I'm sorry Ms Ray I will always try to control myself"...with a Werther's Original scotch taped to the corner. I never hold a grudge.

Of course, with the push for early literacy, not to mention our recent challenges presented by No Child Left Behind (don't get me started!), it's not playtime all day. Indeed, the standards are rigid, the curriculum is assertive, and like I tell incoming parents, "it's not like when WE went to fact, Kindergarten is the new First Grade." I am to strive for each child reading a predictable leveled text by the end of the year.

And when we're not doing that, we're having Choice Time, our favorite part of our day.

A Montessori idea: beaded bracelets. Even the boys like these. Some say they are "for my mom" but many are wearing them still the next day. I give them pre - trimmed pipe cleaners for simple stringing. These particular beads were just a few cents at the flea market.

Art materials at the easels change often. Sometimes it's the traditional paints (I pour them into the small school milk cartons, enabling me to close them up at the end of the day and toss them out when they get crusty). Sometimes it's the dregs of the markers after many weeks of use in the writing center (just working vertically seems to make this fun and different). This time it's chalk on colored construction paper. There are some folded painted butterflies hanging in the foreground, an excercise in color and symmetry.

The reading "corner" is a popular Choice Time activity. I encourage cranky ones to "take a rest" here and read quietly, to themselves or to a stuffed animal. If anyone claims to be "bored" or doesn't "like" any of our Choices, I immediately send them here. I have 100's, if not 1,ooo's of books, people. Name a book, I've probably got it. I came upon a stash of the original Dick and Jane Readers in the library's throw away pile recently. I've got to look them up an Ebay soon. Meanwhile I enjoy their retro charm.

Junk Art is generally introduced the week before Earth Day. Everyone is encouraged to bring in their clean "junk" to share. I provide several kinds of tape (more immediate satisfaction than glue), brads, staplers, scissors and other odds and ends. This is immediately the favored Choice, year after year. And each year the children get more ingenious.

And the correct question to ask when your child brings home a treasured piece of Junk Art? No, not "What is it?!" Rather, "Wow! Tell me about that...."

I love my job.


Blogger Connie Peterson said...

I am so glad you love your job. I was a kindergarten teacher for five years and I did NOT like it. I loved the children and we did have fun but I am not a scheduling type of person so we just did what we wanted to do ... back then they did NOT have to learn to read - we just taught numbers and letters in preparation ... it was mostly coloring and games and stories that I read to them and songs.

But I was glad to be done with it - I like being home with what *I* want to do.

Good teachers are a blessing and you are one of them!!


7:16 AM  

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