When I first started teaching, the head of the education department at Lees-McRae College told us we had one goal.
We all thought that was pretty hilarious. Little did we know how that statement would end up being truthful. We had no idea the infectious diseases, the late nights, early mornings, our exhaustion being exhausted, and writing so many lesson plans that our plans have plans for the evening. You are told you learn the hard way, but you never figure the hard way would include fire breathing dragons and walking over hot coals.
When I first walked into my kindergarten student teaching assignment, I thought I was going to vomit.
I really did.
So much so, all I could do was walk up to the door and look in. If I had taken one more step very unfortunate occurrences would occur.
Kindergarteners are not for the feint at heart. They are supercharged cannonballs flying in any direction they can figure out to go. This particular class was no different.
And I really never meant to be in kindergarten. It was a mistake. I had asked-begged-okay, pleaded-to be with my mentor teacher, because I loved her when I volunteered in her third grade classroom. I loved how she had a room full of “those” kids and “those” kids held their heads up high with dignity, had excellent manners, and did amazing work. Whenever you find a teacher with a class full of “those” kids, you latch on and get on the ride.
And now I was regretting it. I had no idea she had transferred to kindergarten from third grade.
There was no way out. The head of the education department’s brags still cluttered up my brain from the day before about all of the accreditation my mentor teacher had racked up, and how wonderful of a teacher she was.
I took a deep breath, and walked into the death zone.
Not five minutes inside the walls and I had a foot on my lap. If you know me, I hate feet.
I hate feet. I hate them.
But yet, there was a foot on my lap. On. My. Lap.
I must have looked terrified because the child giggled and said, “Shoe”.
Oh. He wants his shoe tied.
I laughed. He laughed. He threw his teeny arms around my waist and hugged as tight as he could before giving me a toothless smile and running off to play with some blocks.
Never in my life have I been poked, prodded, patted all over my body for attention, the way I was in that kindergarten classroom. My mentor teacher and I became like sisters, the kids were the reason I got up in the morning and dragged myself to duty, and I fell in complete love of kindergarten.
They begged to walk the stage with me when I graduated. They ended up settling to decorate my graduation cap with her fingerprints that we turned into pigs.
It has been thirteen years and several grade levels since I have been with five year olds. I am not sure I have it in me anymore, but I bet if I were put in that situation, I would find it. For now, I’ll stick with my fourth graders.
I’ve got quite a file cabinet full of stories over the years. Some hilarious, some hilariously painful, others that nearly broke me. This section of my filing cabinet houses these stories that helped turn me from a green student teacher to a full on alter ego Ms. Shapiro. Don’t worry; nothing is in order and it’s organized based on chaos.
And survival is still the end goal. But the survival to what is what morphs itself and evolves over my career. In the end, I’d say my professor was both right and wrong on her assessment, but I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that survival is a gift in itself. 🙂Read More