Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Peek Behind the Playdough Curtain

The end of the school year is coming. The school year for my pre - school ends at the end of May. School teachers know that after Christmas, the school year flies by you. This year is no different for me.

This year however, I am moving. My attention and time is directed in many different directions. I would not say this makes me a bad teacher. This makes me, in my mind anyway, less of an excellent teacher and I enjoy teaching children. I love teaching 4and 5 year olds. It pains me to think my class as suffered in anyway, due to my life distractions.

When I first graduated from college, I could not wait to teach. I went on many interviews. I remember an interview that I loved. I called my dad. I told him how wonderful the job was for me. I could teach Kindergarten!(at a childcare center) It was close to where we lived! My father asked, "How much money do they want to pay you?". I told him the numbers, this much per hour. There was a pause, as my dad did calculations in his head. "You do realize, you would be living below the poverty level don't you?" says my dad.

This statement brought home the problem of my chosen profession. I LOVE children. I enjoy the creativity and enthusiasm of young children. The problem is, there is no money in it. I was lucky as time progressed in my time living with my parents in Ohio, I landed a job in which I used my special education degree. I love working with children who may not be "typical" as much as others. This job paid more (although not much) than a childcare provider.

I do not regret my choice as teacher. I loved every minute of it before I had children. (even when my husband told me his starting salary was equal to my salary after working 6 years IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS!) The joy of working with young children is their creativity and enthusiasm.

I know as a teacher, I have special powers. When I taught and did not have children, my husband would ask, "so, who did you make cry today?" He was referring to my rather strict nature. I do not put up with much nonsense. As I returned to teaching this year, my children would ask me, "Did anyone get in yellow today mom?" In my classroom, green means good, yellow means trouble, and red means BIG trouble. They know I mean business. (at least at school)

Even now, my husband still reminds me that I have much power, and it needs to be used for good not evil. If I went outside and said, "The sky is purple." I could do much damage, by my sheer, giddiness of power I could create a small group of trouble. Children of Pre - K level usually hold a teacher's statements as LAW.

This year I returned to teaching after many years at home. I was eager and ready to be in the classroom. This year in particular presented it's own challenges due to my family having to relocate due to the job change of my husband. The challenges and changes have created much stress for me. Teaching in a way has created stress because I continue to want to be great, and even better than I was before. I will for certain admit that I do not regret having taught these wonderful children.

As the end of the year approaches, so does "Graduation" for them. My assistant and I wanted to ask what the children would be when they grow up. The answers are why I love 4 year olds, and also why I realize I am a jaded parent.

In one conversation I speak with a lovely girl in my room at snack time. She LOVES animals. I know she loves animals, she acts like animals, she TELLS me right there how much she loves them. I ask her what she will be when she grows up. I am thinking, veterinarian. She looks at me, smiles, and says, "I am going to be a Ballerina."

OK, I missed the mark on that one.

I ask another boy. This boy loves music, movement and singing. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I ask. He looks at me as if I have three heads and he is not which one to address his answer, "a scuba diver" he says.

The parent in my cries out. A SCUBA DIVER!. How is he going to make money as a scuba diver? My parents and husband reassure me later that he could be a rescue diver or salvage diver. They make good money.

Ok, I think, always worried about my charges. I ask one more, what do want to be when you grow up? This is one of my favorite children, ( I know you should not have favorites, but I can't help it), he puts one hand on his hip, looks me in the eye, and says, "I am going to be Superman, so I can fly."

What do you say to that? I remind him that these are things we want to do when we are GROWN UP and that he can't try flying until at LEAST age 18.

He agrees, and I hope I have spared him some great injury. I love him, as I love all the kids I teach, and all the kids I have taught. I am glad I was and most likely will be a teacher again. I am only really sorry this year was so crazy, I could not enjoy it more.

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