August 28, 2016

Kindergarten Specials-Rotation #1

This year we have two School Counselors. I did flips from excitement when I heard the news. I was stoked that the students would finally get as much help and attention as they deserve now that we are splitting the caseload of a little over 1,000 K-5th grade students between the two of us.

I was a little less excited to also find out that this year we were also on the kindergarten rotation schedule. The running joke is that teaching kindergarten is like herding cats, only harder.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. 

I will be the first to admit, besides what I have learned from teaching my guidance lessons, I have zero classroom experience. I was a little intimated to say the least; 50 minutes is a long time to spend with 23 “situations”.  

In the past, when I've taught kindergarten guidance lessons, the teacher was in the room to provide much needed reinforcements. As part of the specials rotation, the teacher leaves and has 50 child free minutes of freedom to eat, drink, make copies, grade, set up for the next activity and use the bathroom all as separate events instead of cramming them all into the multitasking nightmare us working in the school system call a lunch break.  

This year, I was on my own. The night before my first kindergarten special, I said a little prayer to the teaching gods that no one would get hurt or run away while on my watch and that the Principal would steer clear of that wing of the school.

The next day, I gave myself a pep talk as I headed towards my first classroom of the rotation. 

With my supplies ready to go and a healthy skeptism that this was going to go perfectly, I entered the classroom.

11:00 a.m. “Hi Mrs. Bell! We’re so excited to see you!” said the woman who teaches these little cuties full time. “We just finished math, they may need a brain break for a bit. I’m already logged into GoNoodle, see you at 11:50! Good luck!”

She couldn’t get out of that room fast enough.

Here I am, standing in front of 23 five-year-olds. I wasn’t going to let them smell my fear. I introduced myself like I’ve been teaching kindergarten for years and put on GoNoodle before they had a chance to rebel.   

They were jumping around giggling like it was the most fun they had ever had in their lives.

I may survive this. Then the real adventure began. I had to start teaching.

11:05 a.m. I asked them what it means to be a good friend and wrote their answers on the smartboard. I mostly just wanted to write on the smartboard, those things are really cool.

11:10 a.m I asked them all to join me on the carpet as I sat in the most comfortable rocking chair I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting in. It was as if it were perfectly crafted just for me. I had to ask four enthusiastic little girls to back up about half a dozen times because I felt like I was going to kick them. It is my goal in life to never be on the news for a teaching related incident; the press would have a field day if they knew I kicked a five year old because the rocking chair was so comfortable I couldn’t contain myself from rocking much like a five year old would.

I showed them the book “The Invisible Boy” by Trudy Ludwig. 

I asked what they noticed about the boy on the cover. Their heads swirled with reasons why someone might feel or be invisible. The most interesting guess was that it must have rained too hard on him and washed away his colors. I like that kid, he’s a thinker.

11:15 a.m. The air was thick with intensity. They were glued to my every word as I read this book. They cared so deeply for this invisible little boy they had never met before.

“Someone be his friend!” one little girl yelled with a look of sheer panic.

The same kid I’ve corrected twice for poking his neighbors yelled, “How can kids be so mean?”

I don’t know little boy, I just don’t know.

11:20 a.m. The book just posed the most philosophical question these kids have ever heard and I literally heard their minds being blown. “Which is worse being laughed at or being invisible.”

A tidal wave of emotion almost broke loose answering this question.

11:25 a.m Thank goodness this little boy from the book is starting to make friends and get his colors back. Two little girls were about to have a meltdown because they wanted to hug him and bring him back to life. Never would I have thought these little guys could feel so deep for a black and white character.

When the book was over I asked their opinions about the story. It was much more insightful than I expected. “If you are friends and nice then people won’t feel like they are invisible. So just always be nice.”

These kids know more than most adults.

11:30 a.m GoNoodle worked great before so I gave it a shot again. Brain break time!

This is seriously the silliest thing I’ve ever seen but to them it was nothing short of magical.

11:33 a.m. I asked them to sit back down and that’s where it started to fall apart. Two boys did some type of robot walk, one girl took the scenic route crawling under the desks and another did cartwheels on her way back. “No one is hurt and the Principal hasn’t come by, we’re good, we’re good.” I thought to myself.

I passed out this activity sheet and asked them to draw a picture of what it means to be a good friend.

11:35 a.m. They were the picture of perfection, drawing calmly and quietly.

"I'd be friends with the invisible boy"

"I'd be friends with the boy too"

"I'm a good friend on the way to the bus. I help people find it."

11:40 a.m. Abort Mission! This took a drastic turn.

That one’s crying because he has the crayon she wants, that one doesn’t like her picture that one has a crayon in her nose and I don’t think that one was in this class when I first got here. Somehow they are multiplying.

GoNoodle. For the love of god someone put on GoNoodle!!!!

11:42 a.m. I just found a kid’s yoga movie where the lady is acting like she is from Frozen and the background is the queen’s castle.

11:43 a.m. All order has been restored.

11:50 a.m. Thank goodness this saint of a woman is back.

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