Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ten Things I've Learned From Teaching

I am linking up to Miss Kindergarten's Linky Party...loved this idea! The image below is linked to her post...which is hilarious, and I totally wanted to steal almost all of her "things she's learned teaching kindergarten". Yep. She nailed it, big! Let's see, though, what I can come up with!

So, what have I learned teaching K? Hmmm... (fair warning, I tried to think of some funnies, but there is a lot of serious ahead, too)

1. A day without specials is a special kind of...well..he**. Students need time to move and play and need a break from me! On the same note, days with no outdoor recess...well...compound those with no special, and put it all on Monday, and you know the day is just going to rock your socks off. I am so grateful that I will have one special a day this year (though the day I had two was nice, in some ways).

2. The first few weeks of school are like childbirth. You "forget" how hard they are. And then...you go crazy and do it again, because the end result is wonderful...but the labor of the first weeks of school is exhausting.

3. Winter = at least half an hour of academic teaching time gone, because you are spending that time helping 25 little people do the routine of "Snowpants, ZIP!, boots, coat , ZIP!, hats, scarves if you have them, mittens or gloves LAST!!!" about 3 times a day (at least in my building--2 recesses, plus dismissal time). I am always SO ready when we can finally be rid of winter gear!

4. You learn to eat REALLY fast. And you learn how to NOT go to the bathroom when you really want to. Like, when you are doing what feels like the 17th bathroom break of the day with your students, and it is your no-special day, so you haven't gotten to go since you got out of bed at 4:30 that morning. And it's now quarter after 11.

5. Being a leader is scary...but worth it. Okay, I say this as a person who has always felt a little bit like the "junior" member of her grade level team (there are typically between 7 and 9 teachers on our K team). I started as the person who was not the "expert". I didn't have an early childhood certification. I had a couple rough years to start out, and (I'll be honest here) was assigned an amazing teacher to be my mentor...and, due to a lot of personal "stuff", she was a much less than amazing mentor. I figured a lot of stuff out on my own. I didn't have a lot of close grade level friends...so I kept my head down and my mouth shut...a LOT. Even after I got my masters in early childhood, I still felt like less than an expert. Now, though, I know, more and more, that I AM a good teacher, and I DO have a lot of expertise to offer. Do I know it all? No way!!!! But my perspective and opinion are not worth any less than that of anyone else on my team! Especially now that I have my EC masters, and am on the cusp of a masters in Reading...I am working hard on being braver, on being a leader, and on doing more and more to improve myself as a teacher, so that I can, in turn, help to improve my grade level team as a whole. It's hard...not gonna lie. I am far from a good leader (yet), but it is something I am definitely working on!

6. Take time for yourself!!!! (I fail at this one regularly, which is why I know how important it is) Find something, anything, that you enjoy, and do it, at least once a week. Is it hard as heck? Yes. But when I sat down in May and read a book (FOR FUN!!! Yay for Nora Roberts!) from cover to cover, and did not do ANY homework, or schoolwork...it was amazing. I felt rejuvenated. DO IT. You will not regret it. In fact, you will be re-energized for tackling that other stuff by taking the time for yourself.

7.  Kids love a tape line on the floor. Best liner-uppers EVER this past year, because they had a line to stand on. Define their space, and they are happier. (I guess this could be broadened to read: "Kids like to know where they stand. And their boundaries. Keep it clear and consistent, and life will be better"). Will certainly be doing the tape line on the floor again. (and, for any who don't know, if you have tile/hard floor, "Gym Floor Tape" is your friend. Comes up clean and easy!!! AND comes in great colors!)

8. Kids really do say the darnedest things. Example: Teacher--"Jimmy, you are the caboose today." Jimmy--"I don't want to be a caboose! I just want to be a kid!!!!" or "You are hot...like a solar panel!". My brain is too much on summer mode to remember the more current classics on my list. They crack me up almost every day with the things they say, though.

9. You have to be flexible. You never know when the fire alarm is going to get pulled, or someone is going to puke, or when your kids are just going to need more time to wiggle, giggle, and move, or when a lesson is going to take a very sudden turn. Be willing to change your plans. Be able to adapt to their needs. Being flexible also means not getting trapped by something that "works" for your classroom. Try new things, even if it means leaving your comfort zone...again, something I am working on!

10.Remember what a special job being a teacher is. It is hard. It is often belittled. We often get the short end of the stick. We also get flowers, and pictures, and hugs, and called "mommy" or "grandma", and told we are the "best teacher ever" (even when they've never had another teacher), and we get the reward of watching just how far these amazing little people come from September to June. They inspire me, make me laugh, make me cry, and fill my heart every day. More than anything, I have a passion for this job, and for these little people. Knowing that I am setting them up to be successful individuals motivates me every day to get up and face the bureaucracy and the belittlement.

This image was someecards card was created, as indicated, by the fabulous teacher from lookatmyhappyrainbow.com. I pinned the image months ago. I tried to find the original post, but the person who pinned it before me didn't link to the individual post...after scrolling through many of the creators great posts, I was totally distracted (and inspired). So, this image does NOT link to it's original source. I have, however, linked you to his awesome website. Check it out!

So, that's my ten. Off to read some more of what others had to say.

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