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Last night officially began the 2016-2017 school year. It was the Kindergarten meet and greet night. As a volunteer in the classroom, I helped my daughter’s teacher from last year Ms. C. with her first meeting with the class I’ll be helping with this year.
Surprisingly enough for my “first day of my new job” after not “working” for over 6 years, I was extremely calm. The class started out with a list of 20 kids, but by last night the list had bloomed to 29 kids! I know that there are rules as to how many bodies can be in the class but it seems like this year they are pushing that limit to the most. (Last year’s class started with 24-25 and ended with 26 with a few kids coming in and out.)
The hour long meeting started with the families coming in and Ms. C. reading Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (A Five Little Monkeys Story) to the kids. It’s a good choice since most kids this age already know the story. Also it is interactive so it’s a good gauge as to who will be involved and who will need a little help to get into the spirit of the class.
On a side note, Bootsie wanted to read No, David! specifically because he runs around with his pants off. Ms. C told her that was probably not a good way to start the year off.
In the process of sitting them on the carpet, Ms. C explained to the kids a few of the ways that she works in the classroom. One method is a simple call and answer system to get the kids attention which works like magic.
Immediately outside two of the Transitional Kindergarten kids who I recognized from last year started talking it up. I hate to say that kids I don’t know are annoying, but they were really because rude and annoying. I had to turn them around to hear the rules of the playground, but after a few minutes all the kids ran off to play and I watched the kids with the other AM class volunteers. The two other women on the playground were the mother in law and the mother of the other am teacher, which made me feel a little better. I’m good watching the kids, but it’s comforting knowing I have back up.
Bring on the tears
Kindergarten is sometimes a scary thing for little kids. I was relieved to see that there were only 2 kids who had a few tears. One little boy from our class and one from the other AM class clearly had some separation anxiety. The one from our class was definitely worried about where his mommy was. With a little distraction and a session of nose blowing, he ran back and played for a little while before coming back to me again.
I could see he wasn’t going to go back to play this time so we talked for a minute. Not only did I have to ask him his name because I clearly was going to butcher it if I tried to pronounce it, but I knew it would be a good distraction. I asked him how to say it. He spelled it for me, which is promising, but had to ask “what does mommy call you?” before he would tell me how to say it. Really it was all a ploy to try to drag it out a little bit longer then I told him to play the quiet game before sending him inside to sit next to his mom.
New SHERIFF in town
One little girl is the new sheriff in town. She didn’t play with the other kids a whole lot, but seemed very outgoing in the class and on the playground. She told me about some broken tricycles on the playground and brought them to me. When I told Ms. C about her, she looked at me and said “Oh! She’s the new Bootsie!” I laughed because that’s exactly what I’d thought myself!
Foreigner in a Familiar Land
The make up of Bootsie’s class last year was a pretty good mix of nationalities, but this year seems even more diverse. There are at least a handful of kids who are clearly speaking more Spanish than English at home. There are a handful who are Middle Eastern as well as Indian or Pakistani.
I only mention this because the town we live in used to be a cow town, probably 75% white and 25% Mexican farm workers, when I was in high school. Now is a haven for commuters in the bigger cities around which has changed the makeup of our population. The faces that will be in class this year shows the definite change in the looks of the school make up.
The Path To Something New
The night ended with a few conversations with parents, explaining who I was again. I think some people are confused as to why I am volunteering in Ms. C’s class and not my own daughter’s class.
Last year there were four stations in the classroom. 1 reading/writing, 1 math, 1 art and 1 play. If there weren’t at least 3 teachers or volunteers in the class then half the class was basically unsupervised while the teacher tried to test the kids. In other grades this wouldn’t be a such a problem. Kindergarten is different. Imagine 12 5 and 6 year olds trying to play quietly without someone watching them. It doesn’t work well most days.
So this year I plan to at least be a constant volunteer on Thursdays (when Boogie is in his preschool class) so that Ms. C can plan testing days. She’ll have an aid during many days, but she won’t have an every day helper so the more consistently I’m there, the more the consistently the kindergartners will get one on one attention from the teacher.
I reassured everyone that I talked to that Ms. C is a great teacher and we are going to have some fun. I even rubbed elbows with the Principal which is always good for my job prospects later on down the line. Sounds calculated I know, but this volunteer job is the first step to get me into the school district with a job.
All in all it was a great night. Tonight we will be able to find out who Bootsie’s teacher will be and Monday will be the first day of 1st grade! Thursday is going to be Boogie’s first day then I get to start my first volunteer day!
My “In The Classroom” series of posts will continue weekly from here. I’ll be in the classroom on Thursday mornings for about 2.5 hours and I plan to document my experiences 3 main focuses:
- What activities I worked on with the kids that day
- Any personality/behavior events of the day
- Successes and failures of the day
I’ll try to post this series on Fridays or Saturdays depending on how busy my schedule gets, so keep a look out for all the adventures I’ll be having in Ms. C’s AM Kindergarten class this year!