Friday, April 8, 2016

Surviving Kindergarten, Recess, and Finals

You may have noticed that I did not post this week. It was definitely one of those weeks that makes you count the days to summer vacation. 

Monday was our first day back after an eleven day Spring Break.  It is always hard to go back to school after a long time, especially when you have teenagers who are night owls. It was made even harder that this is the last week of our quarter. This is the week where you make sure you are caught up on your homework, and study for those final tests.  A couple of years ago our school went to quarter finals, instead of semester finals. It is actually nice that the tests are over 9 weeks of school instead of 18, but it also means major tests happen 4 times a year, instead of 2.  One of my children seemed to do very well this week, the other one not so much, since they have not been feeling well.. 

You may be wondering why titled this post Surviving Kindergarten, Recess, and Finals.  This week I worked all but one day. I started the week in a special ed class.  It went really well. I have taught that class before, and they are great kids. While there I received a call and asked to teach kindergarten the next day. I have worked with kindergartners  several times as a parapro, and extra reading help. This would be the very first time I taught an entire class for the entire day by myself.  I love kindergartners.  I have had three kids that were once that age. Small groups are great, but get an entire room of 5-6 yr olds, and it is overwhelming. The saying "it is like herding cats", definitely applies to this age.  Two days later I am still exhausted.  I have a new appreciation for kindergarten teachers who do it on a daily basis. 

If you are in a kindergarten classroom more than five minutes, you will hear tattling, and a lot of it. It is true for some other grades as well, but kindergartners have it down to a science. You quickly learn that sometimes what they are saying is very important, like when someone is hurt or sick.  The rest of the time though, it is when it is just to say someone is being mean to them, or won't let them play.  If the disagreement between the children is bad enough, sometimes you have to step in.  I have learned a few tactics this past year of teaching that I wished I would have used more on my own children when they were little. I have learned to ask the child who said the mean thing a couple of questions.  The first question is do you realize that what you said to the other child is not nice.  They almost always answer yes.  I then ask if someone said what you said to them, would it make you feel bad.  Again, the answer is almost always yes.   The third question I ask is if what you said would make you feel bad, do you understand why the person you said it to is feeling bad right now.  The answer is again almost always yes.  You can actually see the little light bulb happen when they realize why their friend is upset. They quickly apologize, and all is forgiven.   The constant tears are a bit harder.  I saw tears at least 5 times that day. Usually it is short lived, but occasionally some child go into full meltdown mode.  I was lucky enough not to see that happen on that day, but I have in the past.  Another thing that happens in kindergarten is the constant taping on your shoulder, arm, back, where ever the child can reach to get your attention. Sometimes it is several kids at once.  I had the chance to talk to the teacher at the end of the day, and asked her how she handled that.  When she is there they are not allowed to tap more than once. Once they let her know that want to speak to her they are to step back, and wait their turn.  They seemed to forgot that rule, since the teacher was not there.  Oops.   The kids in the class really were sweet, but by the end of the day, I was so tired I  felt like I could sleep for several hours.  In fact, I did end up taking a nap when I got home.  :) 

Last night I was called by a friend of mine, and asked if to be a lunch aide at recess today. Since it was only a half day, and I am still not sure if I have fully recovered from kindergarten I said yes. I already knew all of the kids, because I sub at that school a lot.  I helped watch kids in K-4 on the playground over lunch periods.   During the kindergarten and first grade lunches there was more tattling, and lots of screaming.  As the grades went up though, it really did get easier and easier. Before I knew it the lunchtime was over, and I could warm up.  It might say April 8 on the calendar, but currently where we live it feels more like February. Brrr! 

Over the next few days we have a bit more testing with my kids.  It is SAT time in our state, and my son it taking it for the first time. My daughter is taking a grade level version. It should be another interesting week, but with a quieter schedule. 

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