My kindergarten students, if I had to choose, might be my favorite students. I mean, really.... you can't get much funnier than five-year-olds, and early six-year-olds (a few of them would be SO mad at me right now that I called them five-year-olds!). We work very hard when we are in my room together; thirty minutes, four days/week. Our walk between their classrooms and my little room, however, is a free-for-all in our topic of conversation. I used to use that time for academic language building -- "let's go on a hunt for as many letters as we can find," or "let's name everything between your classroom and ours that starts with the letter S today!" but I have come to a place where I need three to five minutes on each end of our 30 minutes of working time, to just be with these little peanuts, to get to know them, to let them see me being a fun, real person, instead of a queen worker bee. And boy have I not regretted this decision to relax with them even once since I changed my ways!
When I pick the kids up, there are four of them, three boys and one girl, they always fill me in on what they were just up to. Aiden is always in the midst of building the biggest race track. Paige is always in the midst of a game of grocery store with some little friends. Max is always drawing on a white board.We discuss recess, and lunch, and exercise and new year's resolutions (Aiden can officially do more one-handed push ups than I can.... I've watched and counted, and every day he tells me how many vegetables he ate for lunch). By the time we get to my room, the chatter has died down and everyone is ready to get their things and show me how smart their brains are today. We have a LOT of smart days, and I hate talking to kids in terms of smarts, but this little group has been walking in since day one telling me how smart they are, so I figured it better to run with it, than to break any sort of bad news to them! I would like to call them hard workers, but rather, smart it is this year!
At the end of our 30 minutes, rather than exit slip to get to show me what they learned and leave, they get one to start the clean up process. This way, while they are cleaning we can enjoying a quick extra minute of social communication and connection added on to our walk back to their classrooms. Let me tell you, sometimes, when I think about the phonics work we do, or the stories we read, I have Not a Single Clue as to where their stories come from, but I don't even care. They make my day, almost every day, so I will take them no matter where they come from.
Here are a couple of quick examples:
- Last week, Paige says to me, at the end of class, "Miss Baumgarten? What's your job?" I tried not take offense to this sweet little child and said, "Well, I'm a teacher," (without even adding a "duh" in there - aren't you proud of me?!) and she quickly; says, "Well, Miss Baumgarten, if you are a teacher, how come you don't have to teach us stuff?" I couldn't resist, I did giggle, and I did say, "Well, Paige, I am really trying to teach you to read, do you think I am doing a bad job?" to which she replied, "OOOOHHHHHHH! THAT'S what you teach!" and moseyed her way to line up at the door. So much for me clarifying learning targets in ways that students know what they are learning, I guess! I thought, "Today I can read words that have the letter a in the middle" was a clear statement about what I would be teaching them. I guess I was wrong.
- And today, as we were finishing up with cleaning and getting in line to leave, the students were really not able to grasp why I didn't have children. I do have pictures of my niece and nephews, and former students, hanging on the wall by my desk. The conversation started with them pointing out the pictures and asking if those were my kids. When I told them no, they asked if my kids were home alone. I found this, in and of itself, entertaining. Did they think that if I had pictures of my kids here, they were actually here with me? I was not following their logic. The next thing I know, one of them blurts out, "Wait! Miss Baumgarten, You haven't even been married ONCE?!?!?" Mind blowing moment for a kindergarten student today, people. Mind. Blowing. Too bad the alphabet wasn't so gripping for them! :)
Yes, I do think that these little peanuts would be my favorite if I had to choose.