Friday, December 13, 2013

Learning, Always Learning

Thanks to principal Gary Griese, I've worked in kindergarten as an assistant since 1988. During those 25 years, I've had the pleasure of working with over twelve very different teachers, in both Roseburg and Salem, OR.

Lucky me, my first year I was able to work with the teacher who taught my eldest in the first grade--June Kuitert. She'll always be my ideal kindergarten teacher. Well, okay . . . except for my own personal first grade teacher, Mrs. Kane. I imagine Mrs. Kane (Minnie, who taught me to read), would have been an amazing kindergarten teacher.

What a roller coaster these past 25 years have been! I wish I knew how many children's hands I've held--whether it was to hold a pencil or lead a recess line. I've worked with strict teachers, (what we call) loosie goosie teachers, warm hearted teachers, single minded teachers, imaginative teachers, creative teachers, but most fall into the category of "never stop learning" teachers.

I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that my preference are the teachers trained to teach kindergarten. People will try and convince you otherwise, but kindergarten is a specialty. It's a child's first school experience. They learn how to stand in line, hold a pencil and scissors, sit next to another child on the carpet, follow directions and solve problems. And hopefully, if they haven't learned already, that there are other people in the world and consequences for their actions.

Not sure where I was going with this, other than pondering the past years after trying to model something  that I hadn't done for 8 years to my teacher. She was moved (voluntarily) from third grade to kindergarten, at the end of the 2012-13 school year and has been working hard to find both her comfort zone and what's best for the children. Sadly, I forgot several important instructional details and (evidently) hurt the feelings of the person who gave me permission to take over for 20 minutes.

Navigating the puzzle of people has never been my strength. If I ask permission to show a fellow educator something I know will help them and they assure me they're comfortable with it, I tend to believe them. Though I only have the body language and actions of the other person to go by, I'm certain I overstepped today. And so, I'll leave it to the experts from now on.

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