First Day of Kindergarten

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Today is the first day I teach kindergarten.

Kindergarten and I, we have an interesting relationship. Since I was homeschooled, I have zero school experience with any other grade. My kindergarten credentials are volunteering in a public kinder class for a couple years, and going to kindergarten myself.

I attended half-day kindergarten when I lived on an air force base. They fed us frosted animal crackers and Oreos, which got me in trouble once.

I felt a bit under the weather one day, not understanding that sometimes (…all the time) you can wake up and just feel physically blah. I think my tummy felt off. I wanted to stay home. I wanted to go to the nurse. My mom tried to nip my melodramatic bud and told me I could do neither, but, always aware that I might have a rare and interesting (but non-life-threatening) disease, I went to the nurse anyway.

She bought my pity story and sent me to hang out on the wood-chip playground with the other students until my mom arrived early. Somehow, I ended up hoarding a packet of chocolate cookies to eat later that day, even while solemnly informing anybody who would listen that I was too sick to play.

My mom didn’t buy that story, not with chocolate cookies in the hand of a girl complaining about tummyaches.

Other than that, I was the perfect student. No, I take it back: there was the time I asked the teacher if I could stop writing my numbers to 100 because I already knew them, and she had the nerve to tell me to keep writing them, anyway. I think I sat there for a good while confused about the inefficiency and monotony of this task. Maybe that explains why I’m so bad at math.

But yes, I was a goody-two-shoes. I hung out with a goody-two-shoes blonde and felt sorry for the rather ditsy but goodhearted girl named Taylor. I stopped feeling sorry for her and started envying her profundity when she shared in gym class, “Whenever my brother and I would say, ‘They started it,’ my dad would say, ‘Well, who will end it’?”

(I felt equally profound when I started butting into my mom’s disciplinary moments with this wisdom.)

Taylor, the blonde, and I were all day, every day green card students. I never got my green card pulled. Not once. I was the only student who managed that feat. And I do mean manage, because I happened to stop running in the hall right as a teacher rounded the corner and pulled the green card of every running child — which was all of us, even the blonde and Taylor.

They were mortified. I felt bad, because I knew I should ‘fess up and get my card pulled too, but I was no Abe Lincoln, not at age five.

That’s part of the reason why I don’t use clip charts or stop light cards in my class (yet). I work with inner city kids, and I’m told they’re a tough crowd. But I’m hoping that respect, kind words, reason, and a look of withering boredom will keep them in line. And Play Dough.

Well, I’m off to make sure seventeen kids learn how to read and don’t stab each other with pencils. Wish me luck, and share your kindergarten memories with me so I can have something entertaining to read if the first day goes horribly. :)

P.S. Fellow nerds: I learned how to do a close reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This is literally the best thing that happened to me all week.

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12 thoughts on “First Day of Kindergarten

  1. Rebekah

    I love the look of your classroom, especially that awesome door! I was home-schooled all through high school so I don’t remember a kindergarten classroom, but I do remember my mom teaching me how to read on our couch. I finished the lesson book when I was five and I haven’t stopped reading since…

    I hope your first day goes great!! I’m sure it will have lots of rewards along with the challenges.

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  2. korie

    Good luck! The first day of school is so much fun. I taught high school English, and this is my first year NOT going back to school. Instead, I’m staying home with my baby boy (and tutoring on the side because I just can’t stop). I’m interested to hear how your experience is, as well as your thoughts on private school/public school/homeschool.

    I taught 6th grade at an inner city school, and ended up realizing that I couldn’t do it because I just didn’t believe in the system (as teenage rebellious as that sounds…). I couldn’t get behind the idea that having 42 6th graders, all at wildly varying reading levels, in a classroom designed to fit 30 kiddos was at all the most effective way to teach this demographic anything. So I switched to teaching college prep high school juniors, and though the kids were still kids, I at least felt like I could get behind my job.

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    • Bailey Steger

      Well, the first day *was* fun…and a lot of other adjectives too, like stressful, mind-boggling, and overwhelming. ;) Teaching high school English sounds amazing.

      I teach 18 kids at a Christian charter school — definitely a better situation than cramming 42 students together!! I’ll definitely be posting more about my teaching experience and thoughts on education. :)

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  3. heather

    Also I thought at first glance that your paper said that you liked Sleeping in pepperoni. Odd, but points for getting all your quirks out there up front! LOL

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    • Bailey Steger

      Thank you, Adele! My classroom is now more disorganized and chock full of Germ-X, paper towels, and stray papers, and I’ve definitely been caught *un*prepared at many more moments than I’d like to admit. I’d rather talk about how much better day 2 was than day 1, though. *pulls hair* :)

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  4. Justine

    I can’t remember which post it was, but I think you mentioned the book “How to Talk so Kids can Learn”. I used that one in college. I went for Child and Youth Worker. Have you heard of the book Kids are Worth It! by Barbara Coloroso? It is a parenting book, but we used it as a textbook. It’s great. I think you would enjoy it – from what I remember it would fit well with your egalitarian and respect-driven discipline approach.

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