A few minutes later the first buses arrive and little students scramble out into the hall outside. There’s little order and quiet this time as they say their goodbyes and leave the classroom behind. We aren’t finished with catastrophes, however, as one boy gets sick all over the floor and another kid’s backpack. Laura must be stressed and annoyed, but she doesn’t show it as she takes matters in hand, clears a path for other students to get by, and begins cleaning things up. The boy is strangely silent. In fact he has said only a handful of words all day. I just stand their awkwardly, patting his shoulder and murmuring something from time to time.
I call Mom to pick me up, then for some unknown reason Laura leaves the room and I’m left with only one kindergartner: a sweet little girl who is waiting for someone to pick her up. As I’ve nothing better to do, I begin cleaning and straightening the classroom, and the girl eagerly joins me. She chatters brightly about this, that, and everything, saying that she loves to help. True to her word, she helps me get the job done, and we have the room looking much better in no time. We then sit down together and wait for our respective rides.
I feel that I now have a rather good idea of what it is like to be a kindergarten teacher on a day to day basis. What a crash-course! I have seen the adorable side of little children who want nothing better than to please their darling teacher, and I have seen the hyperactive side that could strain one to the breaking-point. I have seen children who are uncommonly bright for their age, and others whose most rudimentary knowledge of counting and spelling is sorely lacking. All of these kids, crammed into a noisy classroom, are being prepared for the big, scary world outside. It is heavy food for thought.
The little girl goes off with her ride and Laura comes back. We share a few words as she finishes cleaning up the vomit. It is not pleasant, but she is pleasant about it. She is showing me a little handheld device that tests a student’s academic progress when Mom walks in, ready to take me home. As I thank Ms. Taldo for the informative and interesting day, I make a mental note that I would like do this again. It wasn’t all fun and games, but I really have enjoyed myself immensely. In a few short hours I have learned to care for these kids and become concerned about their education. Homogenous masses of kindergartners condensed into crystal-clear individuals, each one a precious little gem, each one a beautiful challenge and an opportunity.
That’s really what I took away from my first day of kindergarten, a sense of the individual child. Though herded like highly-organized cattle from class to class and treated fairly and equally, they are all unique. The purpose of teaching is not to make sure your class get high marks, it is to help every child reach his or her highest potential, wherever that might be. It is a challenging job, and not for the faint of heart. I am not yet ready to declare my college major, but my experience today has vastly developed my ideas concerning teaching. For the better.
Thank you for bearing with this very long post!
Tata for now,