One Sunflower

it’s what we do with what we know

on September 11, 2012

Sometimes a little event occurs in my life which reveals more about what I know about teaching young children than any interview or observation.  And these things happen in ways that I could not plan for, or replicate, ever.

This happened to me last Thursday when I encountered the new kindergarten teacher walking towards me in the hall with a look of exasperation on her face.  She grabbed my elbow and asked,  “How do you deal with them (her class) going to the bathroom and getting a drink?”  Ms. R is a veteran grade school teacher, a mom and new grandmother, but she is new to kindergarteners – who are new to “school” – and this is one of those things teachers usually learn through experience, not in college courses, workshops or Power Points.

Only a quarter of our kindergarteners attend preschool with me and aren’t yet savvy in their role as peer models with their new classmates.  If they were, they would know to quietly prompt their new friends to get business done quickly and quietly and they would show them how to use our crazy sinks which work on body heat – sometimes. Instead, I’ve spent this last week witnessing wandering 5 year olds, enjoying a bit of freedom in the hall, talking and playing with others who have come to the watering hole.  Since my class hasn’t started yet, I’ve been able to poke my head  into the hall and quietly coach these newbies.  If one of my prior students is there, I just give him or her the hairy eyeball and remind them to help their friends learn how to use the bathroom.

In answering Ms. R’s question, I realized I have knowledge about how to teach young students about this part of “school” that isn’t on a pacing guide or the Common Core.  It makes me think about other necessary skills and bits of information our students need to know to be successful and how all of us have learned to teach them.

And today is the day I need to have it all in my head because today is my first day.


6 responses to “it’s what we do with what we know

  1. Margie says:

    Makes me smile. Hope your first day and your whole year is rich with powerful teaching and exciting learning.

  2. Terje says:

    I can imagine that it would be rather funny to have a power point or a written guide about toilet or drink breaks. It would still not be enough to make one a master in using a hairy eyeball. I hope that you had a wonderful day.

  3. Robin says:

    It always makes me smile a little…sometimes because it’s funny, sometimes because I’m annoyed and it’s my only option to smile…when I talk about things like showing kids how to blow their nose or how to turn on the bathroom light and close the bathroom door or wash their hands, and the upper-grades teachers make a surprised face. Yes, I teach that, along with all the required curriculum. 🙂

  4. Tam says:

    Oh, the craft that surrounds our job………..Have a great beginning with more to follow.

  5. So, so, so many important things are not in the Common Core and can’t be assessed on standardized tests. Thanks for this good reminder. I hope today was a wonderful first day for you and your students!

  6. Juliann says:

    You have hit the nail on the head! I worry that parents are undervaluing this part of preschool – the learning of school skills.
    Hope you first day went well.

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