Well I survived! All I can say is that I'm so thankful we began school on a Thursday and not a Monday. I'm going to have to build some stamina, because I was absolutely exhausted by the end of this week! No major crisis, no missing children. Just sore feet and a coarse voice.
I was definitely not prepared for the challenge my kindergarten friends would present. In attempts to lasso the potential chaos, we spent most of our time together on the floor in a very confined space. We learned about a serious medical diagnosis called the Tattle Tongue. I was surprised at how quickly this became relevant. We walked through how we would handle situations like when our friends didn't want to share their markers, and yet we still struggled when the boxes were opened. Mrs. Byrd forgot what time their class was done and lined them up 10 minutes early. A few friends even shed some tears. But all that being said, I am still so excited. I am mostly excited to watch the crazy amount of growth that will take place between now and May. I remembered that we really had more in common than I thought. It was their very first time in my art class, too. I realized, too, that I get to have these children for many years to come. So, there is no rush to start whipping out earth-shattering art work. It may mean that we practice taking our seats quietly, follow simple directions, clean up in an orderly fashion, and line up without pushing and shoving every week until Christmas. And that's okay, because once we get that right, we are going to be in excellent shape from then until they leave for middle school.
I have absolutely loved getting to know all these kids and their quirky personalities. They really do say the funniest things. I was sharing my artwork with a second grade class. A drawing I had done depicted me with antlers. A kid raised his hand and asked why I had antlers. I told him it was always a dream of mine, and I thought they would be really handy. One of the girls chimed in "Yea! That makes sense! You could hang your lunch box on them." She said it in a matter-of-fact sort of way, too. I got a good laugh out of that!
Being a specials teacher presents the issue of discipline and who is responsible. It's tempting to just dump a class and their behavior back on their teacher when they come to pick them up. But I definitely don't want to be that teacher who refuses to fight her own battles. I, too, have been trained in classroom and behavior management, so while they are in my room- their behavior is my responsibility. I appreciate that my school runs on positive reinforcement. I love how I can say "Friends I am looking for the table that can follow my directions that fastest," and immediately a competition of positive behavior breaks out. What's funny is there was never even a reward promised. They just did it! Any time a kindergartner raises their hand to speak, I acknowledge them and my appreciation for them raising their hand, and suddenly the others want that acknowledgement, too.
Being around such an awesome group of teachers has really challenged me over the past two weeks. We have an awesome base of teachers that are so professional, mature, and positive. It can be tempting to join in when those few people mention "problem kids" or how something is unfair, but I'm resisting that as much as possible. It blows my mind that people would complain when we could be on the outside willing to do anything to be able to teach, especially in our district. I'm finding out quickly those negative conversations are toxic to our environment, and I can't be a part of them if I am going to be a successful teacher. I'm really learning that about in all facets of life right now. Victimizing yourself accomplishes nothing. We have to be willing to admit when we don't know the best way of doing something and someone else might. There is never any bad that comes from learning something new.