Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What I Learned in Preschool

Today was the last day of preschool and I am in a glass case of emotion right now. Okay, I'm not, but I will cry myself to sleep tonight. Okay, I won't, but I'm just really sad about it. Granted, I am completely neglecting the memories of stressful nights completing children's portfolios, 12 hour days in the preschool, and all of the times we had a behavior issue in the classroom...

I started out this semester of preschool with much trepidation, frustration, and doubt; I didn't want to be a preschool teacher, so what's the point of me student teaching preschool? I had just done my practicum in a second grade classroom and I loved it; I wanted to be a second grade teacher. I didn't know how to handle 4-5 year olds.

I am ending this semester, however, with fond memories and a full heart. Here are 15 things that I learned from a semester of teaching preschool:

1. "Getting sprayed" in Chicago is different than "getting sprayed" in South Dakota.
Our mentor teacher lived in Chicago before living in South Dakota. One day she told a story of a time when a kid rode up to the school her husband worked at, pulled out a gun, and "started spraying." One of the student teachers didn't know what this meant, and assumed that it meant the kid pulled out a water gun and was spraying everyone with water.

2. If I ever have a daughter, she will be the most spoiled child in the world.
There were some adorable kids in my preschool class. Most of them were girls, and most of them would melt my heart on the daily. They wouldn't even do excessively adorable things. It'd be something like saying hi to me and I'd just melt. Now imagine what will happen if I ever have a daughter...

3. Daily reflections should be done daily, not weekly.
We had daily reflections that were due at the end of each week. Consequently, I would wait until the end of the week to do all of the reflections. Sometimes (most times), I would forget what happened on Monday (and Tuesday (and Wednesday)), and it was a struggle.

4. Snack is the most important meal of the day.
When you have to be at preschool by noon and don't wake up until 10, you don't really have time for breakfast and lunch. Consequently, I would eat at around 10:30 or 11:00 each day. By the time 2:15 rolled around (which is snack time) I would be starving. Unfortunately, on many days, I didn't get to finish my snack (sometimes I didn't get any snack (like one day when we had english muffin pizzas and I had to take a kid out into the hallway because of a behavior issue. English muffin pizzas are a top-three preschool snack, behind only sweet potato fries and fruit pizza. I was upset)). This made for a very hungry and very sad Teacher Joe.

5. Literally anything is capable of being made into a mess.
I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory...

6. If you sing songs from the movie Frozen, kids will love you.
One day, we played the Frozen soundtrack during centers time. The kids skipped my favorite song, which is "Reindeer(s) are Better Than People." I did not stand for this, and decided to just sing it if they weren't going to play it. I was interrupted by my favorite kid leaping into my arms to hug me.

7. Teachers have favorites.
Well, I have favorites. I felt bad about it, but then I realized that I was never told, in any of my classes, that teachers are not allowed to have favorites. It might be because it's common sense, but then again it might not be. I'm pretty sure there isn't any legislation stating teachers can't have favorites. And it's not like I treated them differently. I just liked them more. ...I'm a horrible teacher.

8. Kids are smart.
I realize that it's concerning that I just learned that kids are smart, but it's true. I mean, like, they're really really smart. Some of the things my preschoolers said were very insightful, and I couldn't have been more proud.

9. If you have crayons and paper, you're gonna have a good time.
Honestly, for most of my small groups, I just gave my kids crayons and paper and let them draw. They loved it. And I could pull out helpful information from them, too, such as what they wanted to learn, what their interests were, and what a monster needs to scare the freaks out of somebody.

10. Kids say the darndest things.
In conjunction with the insightful things that children said would be some pretty bizarre and/or hilarious things. For example, one time a kid told me that he thought I was turning into a monkey because I'm so hairy.

11. Small chairs are inconvenient for me.
All of the chairs in the classroom are itty-bitty. During snack time, it was a struggle to sit. Consequently, snack time was really the only time I'd sit in a chair, except for teacher meetings at the end of the day because I could lean back in them.

12. If I get a job as a preschool teacher, it won't be so bad.
My outlook on teaching preschool has drastically changed over this semester. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have worked with these children and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

13. Teaching is a lot easier when there are 5 other teachers.
To my co-teaching ladies, thank you and stay awesome. I would have lost what little sanity I have long ago if it weren't for you guys. This goes to all the teachers, not just the teachers in my class (but to them, especially).

14. I make a difference.
This semester made me realize just how much of a difference I can make in the life of a child. One child in particular comes to mind for me. This child has made tremendous strides in development and absolutely adored me. Even kids that I didn't interact with as much as I did with others would surprise me on a daily basis in various ways. I'm not sure how, but I am confident that I have impacted every child in that classroom in some way.

15. Kids make a difference.
Whether it be by a smile, a "hello," a hug, or just something I overheard them say, these kids could instantly make my day better. I don't know how successful I'll be as a teacher, but I know I'll get some enjoyment out of every single day.

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