These Four

My mornings with these four have been so sweet.

Plenty of time outside in the sunshine and cool fall-like breezes.
Science experiments and practicing turn-taking.
Sharing peace.

The good stuff.

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The First Day

I stumbled upon this post from August 15, 2013.
The nostalgia of re-reading old posts keeps me up past my bedtime many nights.
This particular post was from my first day of student teaching in Pre-K.
And it was just what I needed to read.

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Crazy.
 

That is my chosen word for the first day of Preschool.

A, “You ready?” from Mrs. N.

And a fairly confident, “Yes.” from Mrs. Morris.

Parents walking their kiddos in.
Children that are swallowed up by their backpacks, grinning shyly from behind their parents’ back.
Or taking charge of their classroom by roaming about, dabbling in the sandbox.
Children that must be peeled away from their parents.
Scared to leave on their first day.

I wanted to say, “I know that feeling!” as I thought back to leaving my husband that morning.

A reading of No, David! to introduce our school rules.
An explanation of what would happen if you were caught picking your nose.

A shameless revelation of a booger picking four-year-old.

And we all know it just wouldn’t be Preschool without at least one outburst of, “BOOGERS!”.

A, “Wanna go on the teeter-totter?” from new friend to new friend.

A brief sigh of relief for a ten minute lunch break.

And it’s right back to it.

Right back to opening play-doh and showing kids how to use the brand new Prang watercolors.
Remember when painting wasn’t intimidating?
And you didn’t have to be the best?
You could just dip the brush into your favorite color and sweep the page.

That’s beautiful.

I already know these eight weeks with nineteen preschoolers is going to be too short.
I want to be there when the lightbulb comes on.
When they learn all the letters in their names.
And their friends’ names.
When they discover that they really are readers.

And when they solve problems with each other on their own.

And even though today was crazy.
It was the good kind of crazy.

The kind of crazy that says, “You can do this.”

This last year has brought about a lot of embarrassment and floundering and identity crisis related to my work. I still don’t have a whole lot sorted out.
But I do feel at peace with where I am for this season.
I feel joyful at work.
Grateful.
There’s something that’s just right about where I am.

Embarrassed

Embarrassment.

“What’s your most embarrassing moment?”

The classic ice-breaker question.

The one that makes me cringe because unlike most (so it seems to me at least) I don’t have one example of me floundering through the aisles of Target with ripped pants. My mind holds a million embarrassing, awkward, red-faced, “Can I cry yet?” moments that are not nearly as laughter-evoking as the former.

Embarrassed is a tricky emotion to describe.

I can remember stumbling over what it is when my Pre-K kids would ask.

I can also remember my Dad doing his best to explain it to me while waiting in line as a kid.

The memory must stand out to me because I knew the feeling all too well and now this word, this perfect word, made it all make sense.

“Oh, so this feeling I have is a real thing!”

08.10.16

I quit my job a month ago.

Not on a whim.
Not without thought.
Not without tears.

Looking back, it was a long-time coming.

I loved my job.

I loved my students.
I loved their families.
I loved my co-workers.
(Seriously, the Lord gifted me with those strong, kind, and wise women.  I cried on their shoulders many-a-time.)

And maybe this is hard to explain (And trust me, it was very hard to explain.) because it’s not that I disagree with early childhood education in itself.  I just don’t totally agree with the way we’re going about it.  And thinking into the future, it surely isn’t the way we want to raise our children.  I love your child a whole lot.  But not enough to leave my child with someone else to raise them.  Add in the factor that my salary would be equivalent to the cost of sending our child to said institution and it’s downright depressing.  I read this (“It Doesn’t Pay to be an Early-Childhood Teacher” ) and thought, “I’m not the only one recognizing this problem.” as well as, “Why did no one tell eighteen-year-old Rachel this?” Which in fact, they did.  Every time, “We’re not in in for the money.” was muttered – they were shouting it.  I just wasn’t paying attention.

This recognition has brought a flurry of insecurity, regret, confusion, and embarrassment.

I felt embarrassed about feeling so sure of my “calling” and passion.  I declared my major as an eighteen-year-old and did not change throughout my three and a half years of higher education. I have a piece of paper (somewhere) and three years of experience stating that I’m good. I’m qualified. But it’s not my passion.  I love kids, yes. And hope to have a houseful of them someday.  But teaching in a formal setting – not so much.

I feel insecure.  Because I don’t know what I want to do in life.  I have some ideas.  But they’re not so practical.

I feel regret.  Because each month a chunk of change pays for my nice piece of paper that states, “Early Childhood Education” while I punch the clock doing otherwise. I know that’s a wrong way to look at things.  That an education is so much more than a piece of paper.  But it doesn’t take the feeling away. Why do we entrust eighteen-year-olds to decide what they want to do with their lives?!

This month I’ve realized what I wish I would have realized as an eighteen-year-old.
(And will probably re-realize several times in my lifetime…)

That it’s ok to flounder.
To feel embarrassed.
To not know what you want your “career” to look like.

Lost Feet

“It’s a T-Rex. 
He’s looking for his lost foot.”

I’ve been adjusting to my class of nine boys and one girl for over two months now.
It has been good.
Hard, but good.

I feel like I’ve said that a lot the past month.

Meal times are loud.
Most of them know one volume:  LOUD.

And Miss Rachel is not loud.

But then they work so hard to use their words instead of punch.
Or take a deep breath.
Or encourage their friend.
They’re a big group of encouragers those ten.

And they can make some seriously rad dinosaurs and sharks out of anything.

We Were Made for One Another

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“First I organize my room, then I have a snack. A cookie snack. Then I eat pizza.”

Cleaning, organizing, schedules, and eating junk food.
No wonder we get along so well.

These nine are something special.
One of them tied their shoes for the first time (all by herself) and I nearly lost it right there.

Kindergarten teachers, you guys are getting nine of the best.

FREE TIME TURNS TO RAMBLING AND BLAH BLAH BLAH

Two spiders have been spotted in our shower.  Reinforcing my desire to shower more than twice a week.  Yikes. I started a mini-trend in my classroom called, “Bun Girls”.  I match one student one time with a messy bun and it spreads like wildfire.  Oops.  Sorry to all the moms that came home with messy hair from Ms. Rachel’s attempt at simply styling five year old hair after nap time.

Next year I won’t be doing hair.  I’ll be wrangling 8 boys and 2 girls opposed to my 7 girls, 3 boys.
People, I’m terrified.
My first nightmare happened the other night.
It was madness.
Chaos.
And there I was, the teacher in tears (again).

So here I am, savoring every last little minute with these kids.
Remembering to laugh with them.
And be kind.

But tomorrow, on my random Wednesday off, I will just be resting.
And going to the dentist.
Because it’s time.
Two years.
Sheesh.
My current estimation of cavities is a solid 5.
One I can pretty much see.
Hence, dentist appointment.

Wish me luck.
(hands-over-eyes-monkey emoji)

"IT’S YOU AND ME."

“It’s you and me” he said.
“We’re hugging.”
I will never stop loving watching them learn.
Watching them gain confidence day after day.
They’re the best batch there ever was.
And I love being their teacher.

//

What are your big plans for the weekend?
I plan on hitting the grocery store while everyone else watches the Super Bowl.
I love shopping alone.

HIT THE BASEBALL, RUN THE BASES.

He did it.
High fives weren’t enough.
Hugs all around.
And maybe a slight welling of tears just looking at his sweet face, beaming with confidence.
“Hang it on the window!” says his teacher.
“No, I want you to take it home.”
I’m going to need a bigger box for all of these keepsakes.
And one massive box of tissues in August.