Monday, March 10, 2014

A Day In Pre-K

I have never written what my day is like. I figure maybe one day someone will want to be enlightened on my day as a Pre-K Teacher. I walk into my classroom, Mrs. Jenna (the early bird who helps me while I'm driving from Timbaktu) is generally talking to a parent, answering questions about blue jean trips.. you name it.. she's talking to someone about it. I then come in, red faced, place my laptop down, and jump right into the fun. Now many people do not like parents visiting for long, but with children so young in my class I like to form positive relationships with my students' families. I enjoy hearing what's going on at home. Then the bell rings, and Mrs. McComb usually cuts all conversations off by announcing the pledge. The student speaker leads over the intercom as I remind one child to not walk while pledging. Then we say the Lord's prayer. I open one eye when I hear the whisper (that's not so much a whisper). I give the "One eyed open teacher look" that generally makes the kid immediately clap their hands together in prayer. The children then transition to my whole group rug where one child has to run up and share her latest drawing yelling, "Miss Is-Is-Is-Tina." My name for most of the class, is always a work in progress. :) I could go by my last name next year, but hearing them stumble over my long name is always too too cute.

I then do our own classroom prayer where a student recites with the class (independently at this point): "Dear God, thank you for today, thank you for our families, our teachers, and our friends, help us remember to obey and keep us safe. In Jesus name we pray, Amen... God bless you. (They added the God bless you on their own). Then we go on to do calendar where a child becomes the teacher and uses the pointer to count every single number. Teaching them this once made me exhausted, now they glide with ease through the days of the week and months of the year song. Then the "meteorologist" comes up to check the weather, heaven forbid if I slip and call it a "Weather Helper" ... that would be "Such a baby word!" (Or so they are quick to remind me). My weather helper comes up and we sing our song. I explain that even on a completely cloudy day, we don't consider it sunny... which makes NO sense to them.. after all it's day time. This argument will continue I'm sure until they are gone from my class. :) Then I teach. I allow my students to join in on my conversations, because I have learned they really like just being apart of the mix. They have become more comfortable with asking me questions, and I often learn how smart they already are. (One child boasted about honey drinking nectar the other day, as I almost fell out of my chair in an amazement that I haven't even taught this yet). Lesson only lasts about 20 minutes, but I swear with four year olds, it's like a decade. By the 15 minute mark, one is generally trying to eat something off of the rug or trying to catch the dust bunny they see trickling in the sunlight. I stop, make them all wiggle, and try to manage to get through the last 5 minutes of lesson. I guess it's working, because my class has shown tremendous growth.

Then it is centers. Ohhhhh Centers. It's their FAVORITE time of day and it is actually quite beneficial as Mrs. Jenna and I float around, playing with them, acting things out, etc... I've been known to put on a wig or two. Art and reading is where I tend to flock, but I force myself to go to blocks when I hear cries of "YOU KNOCKED MY HOUSE DOWN! I NOT YOU BEST FRIEND NO MORE." I generally resolve it by having them talk about it. If not, I randomly begin building a house and ask for help, they are all so eager to help that their attention goes on me forgetting that "They are not best fwiends anymore." Oh, if only adults could get over their issues so quickly. What is it about adults tends to fixate on quirks in friendships, but kids just let it go. I am trying to adopt moving on quickly. I won't tell people, "You can't be my best fwiend no more" though. I imagine they would look at me like I was cray. Jenna generally reminds our sand table to keep it over the table, someone asks me if they can go to playdough (which is always open?), and one kid generally makes me a sand birthday cake at least once a day. I blow out seashells people. Seashells... and guess what it... and I think that's why I have a birthday party thrown by the kids daily. Today, I turned "6" according to the shell. Centers comes to an end, with the Jamaica-me-wanna-go-crazy clean up song. Most of my children bustle like ants to clean up, some beg to use baby wipes to wipe the table, and the block battle begins. The boys continue to race their hotwheels over their every-block-in-block-center-used-roads as I warn them that they HAVE to clean up. I hear a sigh, "Mrs. Christina, they aren't cleaning up." I arise to the battle praising those that are cleaning with talon tickets (our reward money). I hear from blocks students, "Why I no get a talon ticket?" You have to clean. They finally begin cleaning, while scowling at me, they get over it quickly though as we count backwards to officially end centers. I then sing, "I'm looking for a kid, that's sitting real nice, I'm going to close my eyes, can I open them twice?" They all yell "NO WAY!" Then I cast my magical teacher spell and say, "Ickity bipity boppity boo! I'll make a quiet kid out of you!" The room goes silent. It's the first time I've heard silence all morning. It is the most precious 3 seconds of my morning. Then someone bellows out, "I gotta pee!!!!"

Following the same routine, we line up for the restroom. I repeat, do not play, flush potties, wash hands, only three at a time, I'll be checking. They potty, with the occasional, "I said don't play!" having to be thrown in. Children really look like they are true blown felons if you catch them in the act of trying to crawl under a stall. I remind another that germie has to be flushed. I feel relieved when all 20 of the students have made it back into the classroom for small groups. They walk slow balancing on the duct tape I put down to help teach them how to form a straight line. I take deep breaths as they SLOWLY "walk the plank" They then say, "What we doing now?" When the class mini teacher announces, "Duhhhh small groups." We pair off into our groups, diving into a world of position words, letters, measurement, you think it... we do it. By the time the second group gets to us... you guessed it, their attention span for that 30 minutes is gone. I breathe relief for sunny days where a quick 10 minute recess allows them to run free. The students pick us weeds "flowers" and say, "LOOOOOK! THIS ONE IS WHITE!" Every. time. they get so excited... about the same flower they have found us for 2 weeks... and every. time. I feel special that they think enough of us to pick us flowers... even after I wouldn't let them play in the bathroom sink! We then line up for lunch, a kid asks, "Where are we going?!" The mini teacher again says, "Duh! Lunch!" I hear "YAY!! YUMMY YUMMY!" We line up for the what seems to be the mile long walk to the cafeteria, as we try to spy the Easter bunny or play invisible. I know ways to make kids be quiet. Today, the Easter bunny spied us where he was in the woods. They were super quiet. :)

Lunch comes and goes with the same one reminding me that they only drink white milk. Today someone again told me chocolate milk comes from chocolate cows, I remind them that this is not so. Someone generally spills their milk, someone generally refuses to eat, and someone generally tells me something about them getting married to a second grader. It's fun. I learn a lot about their home lives at lunch too, but generally nothing bad. They just remind me that I need to learn to hog hunt and that I need to carry a knife. One tells me that they'll bring me one, and I kindly remind them to not play with knives and forbid them to bring me one to school.. they aren't allowed. They remind me that we use one to cut their oranges in half at snack. I remind them that it stays locked and the tippy top of a shelf. We line up, as one begs to go to the gym. When I say yes, I am a hero. When I say, we don't have time.. I'm a zero. We go to the gym most days, but days like today we go straight to letter review and story time. Today they told their own story, about a cow... who went to the fair... met a clown who juggled three apples, fell into the water, got wet, and chased buttercup (the cow) all the way home. It was riveting, but so so good for their imaginations. Letter review was like pulling teeth, the kids seemed sleepy, as I reminded them that the letter b had a belly. I was interrupted to be told that the letter d had a "hiney".

Then we play another 20 minutes outside (we get 50 minutes a day with pre-k). The kids run like I've held them prisoner all day. They find every mud hole that I dared them to go near. They pick every weed on the playground. Sometimes, I act as if I am Frankenstein (per their request) and we play freeze tag. Today, I sit and watch, as the kids I've been with all year play. I watch them squabble and work it out by themselves. I smile knowing I taught them to control their emotions. The world feels right. Then we potty and nap. The children take their precious time getting their blankets out, carrying the clear bucket on their head, Mrs. Jenna and I tell them to put it up, they do... 5 minutes later. Then their is silence... besides Jenna and I quietly laughing about whatever HILARIOUS things we've heard or seen for the day and the occasional... "Please be quiet" is reminded. The snores begin. I breathe a sigh of relief. We've all made it to nap... alive..

Nap goes quicker than you could imagine, as I try to juggle lesson plans, newsletters, progress reports, and portfolios. The children wake grumpily, I have to stand one on her feet 5 times...only to find her laying on the floor hidden in dramatic play 1 minute later. We put our blankets and stuffed animals away and quickly go line up for snack and potty. Someone boasts about their Kit-Kat and Oreos as other get excited when I say the cafeteria gave us cookies. We go back outside for our "picnics" and to play. I tie someone's shoe. I tell them about selling raffle tickets to get enough money for water slides in May. A child reminds me his father HATES the cops giving him tickets, I tell her this kind is different. She reminds me that I did say that they cost money.... As we come back in, we pack our things and generally do centers or the occasional learning songs and music. We close our day with pickups lining up and bus riders staying with Mrs. Jenna. When the last bus rolls off, and all of the goodbye hugs are given.... we. are. exhausted...but in a good way. Jenna and I barely even conversate, sighing that we survived another day in Pre-K. We wouldn't change it for anything in the world. It's the most rewarding job EVER.