Sunday, April 29, 2012

A few reflections on teaching kinders

Image is from Kindergarten Cop. Although exaggerated, not too far off from how it can seem sometimes. There I times when I want to yell, "Shut up, shut up, shut up!!!" Thankfully, the Lord protects me and I don't.

Now, I am not a credentialed teacher. Although I do teach academics, I am not required to teach them any standards or get them to read. That being said, I am with 22 kindergarteners for 4 hours a day after school. Here are some of my reflections on what I have learned as an afterschool teacher.
1. There is no such thing as the perfect teacher. I recently read this blog post from a friend about not being a perfect mom. It actually really encouraged me as a teacher. Often in my mind I can have this idealistic view of the perfect teacher that I have to be. This teacher is always patient, and never yells. This teacher always has a fun, engaging, educational and creative class every day. He/she teaches in a way that will meet each child's unique learning style. Everything is so engaging that there would be no need for punishment or a reward system, learning is the reward itself. This teacher has a class that always stays in line, sits in their seats and always raises their hands to be called on. He/she has time to hear each student's needs and meets them appropriately. This teacher handles every conflict with ease in a way that everyone leaves feeling resolved. Unfortuently, that teacher does not exist. I know that I have a lot to learn as a teacher, but I will never be that teacher. There will always be days when I loose my patience and snap at them. There will be days that what I planned seems boring, too difficult, or too chaotic. There will always be conflict that is not resolved well. All I can do is by best, and have hope that God will fill in the gaps where I lack in patience, knowledge, wisdom, and compassion.
2. Novalty is key- Especially with the chaos, I find that I constantly need to change up how I get their attention. What works for a while, quickly becomes white noise to them. Throughout the year I have used, "1,2,3, eyes on me," the 2 finger quite signal, "1,2,3 freeze," "if you can hear me put your hands on your head," "if you can year me say O-ooooo." All of these have worked at some point but then stop working. I also have a magical song that I sing that goes, "I like the way Sarah is waitng, and I like the way, Johnny is waiting, I like the way Henry is waiting, and I like the way, Emily is waiting too." They all want me to say their name so it usually quiets them down. I don't know why its magical, but it is. I try not to use it too much so that its still seems special when I do use it.
3. Kindergarteners are excietd about everything! Its a blessing and a curse. You have to be pretty boring to come up with something that kindergartners refuse to do. Writing sentences, wahoo! Doing math, yes! Seeing who can pick up the most trash, I love this! Seriously, the only way I can really punish them is by having them put there hands down. Its cool that they are excited to do things, but they also go crazy, making it hard to control. Its hard for me to get through a game because as soon as a team gets a point, they launch into endless cheering and it takes a few minutes to calm down to get to the next contestant of the game.
4. Kindergarteners have no sense of personal space or their bodies. They are constantly swinging and flailing their body parts about, hitting other children. They are not intentionally trying to hurt anyone (sometimes) they just have not concept of the fact that when they swing their arms around they will hit the person behind them. If anyone knows how to try to teach spacial or body awareness, please let me know. I dont know if this a social skill you can really teach or you just get it as you get older.
5. They love to tattle on each other. They love to tell you what someone else is doing wrong. I am really trying to work with them on this. If it doesn't involve you, I dont want to hear about it. Last year I would have one student come up to me and tell me, "Miss Megan, Joshua is tattling." Totally missing the point.
6. As much as they may drive you crazy, they are so freaking cute. I have a series of facebook that I post called "Cute quotes from the kiddos." Most are from my kinders. They say funny and sometimes alarming things that make you understand why adults are the way they are. There are definitely moments that I really enjoy being with them. I love seeing the art that they create and hearing them explain their creations. Last week I had a b-boxing competition with them which was really fun.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Perspective Line Drawing

I tried a more ambitious project with my kinders. It is probably beyond their age level but I wanted to see what they could do. It's a perspective drawing of a road driving toward the horizon. I talked with them about how things look smaller when they are farther away and they look bigger when they are closer up. I drew the perspective line on their paper for them. I had them draw in the sun, cars, and tried to have them draw the trees smaller in the middle and bigger as it went out. The one above turned out the best in being able to see the perspective. The rest got a bit jumbled when we added the watercolor. They got the concept a little.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Instant Healing

I like to write down the moments where I can not deny that God loves me, he hears my prayers, or something miraculous happens. I need to remember them in times where I feel like God is absent and nothing is going right. I hope they are also an encouragement to others.

On Tuesday morning I was having some stomach pain as I was getting ready for work. I usually can push through a lot illness and still go to work: cold, headache, etc. But stomach pain is one of those things I can't easily push through. I really didn't want to call out, needing to make money this month especially. I still felt sick as I drove to my first job. I prayed in my car for God to ease the pain but had pretty much resigned myself that this was just going to be a hard day. When I clocked in I still was not feeling great and needed to sit down. Then the bell rang for the kids to go to class. Instantly the pain was gone. I walked to my first classroom and I was like, "Wow, I feel completely better." Usually when I have this pain, it gradually fades out throughout the day. But this time it was instant, bell rang, pain gone. And I knew that it wasn't going to come back. The timing of it was too perfect, that it could only have been the Lord healing me. And the pain didn't come back all day.

At the end of the day, I left my second job smiling, thinking about something funny one of my students had said earlier. That rarely happens as well.

Jesus, thank you for healing me, seeing me, and showing me your love this week. May I remember your goodness to me when things are hard.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

I made these for the church potluck! Sorry for the bad photo quality. They are from my phone because my camera broke.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dream Jobs- The realists vs. the dreamers

Warning: These are my unfiltered thoughts. Its kind of just the jumble of thoughts running through my head every now and then as I consider next steps for jobs or grad schools.

I just want to teach theatre. I want to find something where I don't dread going to work. There is really no reason why I should dread going to work. I love my kids. I hate the schedule. I need to make money. I hate feeling trapped by money but it is a reality of our lives. My grandma always tells me, "If you do what you love, you will always make enough money." But that's not true.

Does everyone get to do what they love? No, in fact looking at the world: children collecting garbage, women selling their bodies, people working in sweat shops. That's not their dream job. That's not the way God uniquely gifted them. They do it to eat and feed their family. And its not because the don't apply themselves or takes risks, but it because we live in a fallen world. There is poverty, injustice, inequality, and most people are just born into that. And no matter how hard you try, not EVERYONE can rise above it.

So why should I get to do what I love where others have to beg on the street to stay alive? Why do I get to be one the privileged few who actually get to do a job that I am passionate about? I struggle with this question when thinking about a "career." Most people don't even get to pursue a "career," they just have a job. I feel like its a white privilege thing to be entitled to a career or even a career that you are passionate about. I grew up seeing my parents get to do what they love. That's why I went to college, to be able to pursue my dreams. But do I only get to pursue them because my family had money? And now that I have less money, do my dreams of being a full time theatre teacher stop here? Do they stop because of the economy? My lack of effort or talent? My fears? My lack of perseverance?

Or do I continue on with hope that God will bless me in the "desires of my heart?" But what about the talents and gifts God has given me? Does he want me to use them in a career? But surely he has also given the sweatshop worker unique talents that go beyond sewing shirts? Why does God not bless them in their talents to succeed? Do I not have enough faith that God can really bless me in this way? Does my practical thinking come from the world's fear of not having financial security?

I have no answers to these questions at this time.