Friday, May 28, 2010

When I grow up, I want to be a Kindergarten teacher...

I started volunteering in Q's class at the beginning of the year as a sneaky little way to spend more time with my kid.   I always imagined myself to be a 'hands on' kind of mom.  Turns out I'm a single mom who has to share custody of my son and work full time.  Being in his class was the perfect solution.  Not only did I get to spend a bit more time with Q, I got to watch how he interacted with other children, how well he was learning, if he was misbehaving...which FYI...he is absolutely not misbehaving...he's better in school then he is at home.  I wonder how that happens...

I love kindergarten.  I love it.  I should have been a kindergarten teacher.  And before you start on the 'it's not too late' speech, I will tell you it is waaaaay too late.  First of all, there is no way I am going back to University.  You would have to kill me first, and then what would be the point, right?  I just this month finished paying off my student loans...14 years after I finished school.  And if that isn't practical enough for you, how could I give up my job with a steady income to become a starving, single mom.  I have responsibilities.  I have bills.  There are already too many teachers out there anyways.  I would end up at the bottom of the pile, fighting for a job as a TOC (Teacher on-call...sounds so much better than substitute teacher, doesn't it??)

But, I love kindergarten.  The kids all call me Mrs. Miller which is nice, because I'm obviously not a Mrs. and I probably never ever will be.  One kid called me Mrs. Q...which I thought was too funny, so I didn't correct him.  He also said to me one day, very seriously, "Mrs. Q, when did you first notice that Q and I were best friends?" 

In kindergarten, there are no emergencies (well, okay...I guess it would be pretty serious if you lost a kid...but how often does that happen?)  In my career, if you miss's a National event.  They discuss it at 7:30 am meetings.  It's fire-able.  In the airline industry...well, it was a good day if the plane left on time and no one died.  Which, for the record, no one ever died on my watch. 

But one day, in kindergarten, we were doing a craft that was super involved.  Crayon wax, iron, wax was intense.  Oh, who am I kidding, it was fabulously fun!!  But at the end of the craft, one little girl, S came running up to the teacher and said, "Mrs. N...I didn't do the craft."  Oh my goodness, I started to freak out.  What are we going to do?  I thought.  We're don't have enough time.  Maybe she'll have to stay a little late to do it. 

The voice of reason came (of course) from Mrs. N..."Oh well.  I guess you'll have to wait until tomorrow and do the craft then."  What?  But that's sooooo simple!  We don't have to call anyone?  Fill out an incident report?  Fire somebody?

"Mrs. N!!!!  I lost my name tag.  Now, C won't be able to write my name."  Cue tears from K.  Of course, Mrs N. came through in that crisis too.  Amazing.  She's like, superwoman. 

I love the kids.  The kids love me.  Z says, "Mrs. Miller.  You're coming to school today.  You bringed your bag!!"  I can see the kids who don't get enough love at home.  They spontaneously hug me.  It breaks my heart.  I love watching how they've grown through the year.  Those who are reading already, who is sooooo close...

We do fun things like go for community walks, and we colour, and we learn to count by 10's and the days of the week.  We drop eggs from ladders and then call it science.  I know, shut the front door, huh?  We sing, "Thank you for listening!" and the children sing back, "You're very welcome"...and then they're quiet.  If I did that with my employees, they'd all stare at me like I'd lost my marbles.  But at school, we sing everything...and before we leave the classroom, we all say, "Inside voices, outside voices.  In the hall, there are no voices."  Brilliant.  Absolutely brilliant. 

Last week, we went on a walk through the community to the fruit store down the street.  We looked for different signs, we walked in a line with our partners (FYI...everyone wanted to be Q's buddy...warm a momma's heart, I tell ya) and held on tightly to our loonie so we could buy an apple when we got there.  I went along to make sure no one got hit by a car, or lost, and because I really wanted an apple, too.

I sounded just like a teacher..."S, tie up your shoe.  You don't want to trip."

"B...hands to yourself."

"N, are you listening?  Let's listen, okay?"

Fast forward to my staff meeting that night...

"G.  Tie up your shoe.  You don't want to trip.  I don't want to do the paperwork."

"T.  Hands to yourself.  No you cannot touch G.  And I don't care if you're joking."

"R.  Hello...I'm over here....Are you listening?"

Not a word of a lie.  I'm serious.

At kindergarten, the kids all throw their backpacks by the door and then go play before the bell.  The backpack saves their place in line for when the teacher opens the door.  The other night, I saw a line of backpacks by the time clock at work.  They're there to save spots for the employees.  So that right at midnight, they can swipe out.  The honour code. 

One more thing learnt in kindergarten.

Maybe I'm not too far off the mark...

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