One of my blog friends made the comment that the first days of kindergarten are like “herding cats”. I’m not sure where that term originated, but it is pretty accurate. Five-year-olds don’t know what to do, although they know what they want to do, and will attempt those actions at every opportunity. They don’t listen. They don’t hear. They don’t understand. They don’t think, at least not before they act. If you can get one of them to generally follow you and do what you say, you can get the rest to tag along most of the time. Another of my friends asked how in the world I manage seventeen of them at the same time. My reply was “gently”. J
However, I’m not one to make idle threats either. If I say something I mean it and I try my best to follow through. So if my students don’t work, they don’t play. If they “waste my time” with too much talking during a lesson, I “waste” part of their recess time. If they make a mess, they clean it up. If they hurt someone, they have to apologize, often in writing. I try to make sure the students realize the consequences of their own actions and make them think. Getting children to think before they act is one of the great challenges we all face. It is often what keeps our children alive, off of drugs, out of jail, etc.
Now that we are into our second week of school, individual personalities are beginning to emerge and my challenges are becoming more evident. I have already ceased viewing my class as a “group” and have begun to make targeted learning plans. I don’t know very many people outside of the world of early education who understand just how much difference there can be between one five-year-old and another! I have students who can’t write, count, or recognize more than a handful of letters, and a student who can read! And of course, every level in between. My goal each day is the meet the needs of each one of them and take them a little farther down the road.
Sometimes I do my best work when I think like a child. Yesterday one of my very, very sensitive, perfectionist boys came to me almost in tears because he had cut a little chunk out of the leg of the octopus we were making for our “O” page. I looked at it and very calmly asked, “Is that where the shark bit him?” He looked at me, hesitated while that scenario played out in his head, then smiled, said “Yes!” and returned to his seat to complete his paper.
I love my job!