My student teaching semester in Kindergarten blessed me in ways more then I could have asked for or imagined. When I started I was wholly fearful and now sitting on the other side I am thankful and affirmed in my decision to pursue teaching as both a career, service and passion.
“You are Reading!”
“Who thinks they can read today, I’m not sure you can. What do you think?” Sarcasm rolls off lips and hangs over 21 little heads like a pinch in the air. Heads shake and the confident, rare “yes’s” intersperse the sea of “no’s” as the kindergarteners struggle to wriggle themselves still.
“I’m going to show you our first sight word” She leaves the wooden rocker, uncaps the Expo, and leaves the inky trail of the word “I” on the board.
“What is this?”
“I,” children say.
“You just read!” she proclaims.
At this moment I notice him. “He’s my hugger,” she told me on day one. She knows he does not get many from home. He barely reaches my hips yet tugs at her heart-strings.
At this moment he’s watching. Eyes light up. The corners of his mouth turn ever wider in delight. Her exclamation lights a spark in his heart. This woman whose everyday consists of stern discipline, the “move your clip,” also lives by the motto “my goal for kindergarten is that they like school.” The juxtaposition of care and control forms her challenging crux. She mouths, “You are reading! You are reading!” and the hard words fade.
“That was fun”
Six exit the class to work on numbers zero to ten with an aid. Miss Goetz perches at the front of the room. With the fifteen kindergarteners left, she begins to lead counts from zero to twenty. After the chorus stops, the fifteen flit to a new patch of carpet. Miss Goetz drops bundles of number cards at their feet.
“Boys and girls lay the cards out starting with 0 and going to 20.” Number lines begin popping up; straight across, two rows, looped. From the back, Mrs. Brown* calls names of students with developed number sense lugging the number board into the hall.
With lines of zero to twenty complete, Miss Goetz begins number games.
“Who can find the 18?” Cards fly into the air. “16?” More cards.
In the back by the tables he sits. Or does everything but sits. “Matthew*, come on up here,” Miss Goetz calls. “Boys and girls, Matt* is going to clap a number and you are going to hold up that number card.” She whispers a number in his ear. He smiles and begins to clap. 1…2….3… Cards up. She directs and they clean up. “That was fun,” Matt* proclaims. (*names changed to protect confidentiality)
Don’t Stop the Flow
Miss Goetz sits at her desk and checks in the students as they enter the room incrementally from different waves of buses. The students move about the room getting unpacked, making lunch choices and using the bathrooms. Morning routines complete, they sit at their tables scribbling at morning work on beginning sounds.
As they begin to finish, one girl comes up and asks, “Can I get a whiteboard?”
In a split second Miss Goetz makes a choice, “Sure you can get a whiteboard. Use it to find “a” words,” she says. Eventually more and more students finish and grab boards. Some sprawl across the floor with partners searching books for words. Others work to search the room. Time for morning meeting comes and goes, and Miss Goetz does not stop them. Given twenty extra minutes the students continue to explore and make their own discoveries.
Eventually a small tiff breaks out and it is only then that Miss Goetz takes back the reins and calls, “Put your things away, let’s go on to Morning Meeting.”