Thursday, August 26, 2010

step one, we can have lots of fun

First day of school today. What a day. Info about staggered entry went out to some parents, not others. Some thought they could choose whatever timeslot worked for them. Some arrived an hour early. Some arrived 40 minutes late. Our classroom aides have completely new schedules and responsibilities, so were occasionally utterly confused.... What a day.

That said, here are some things I am grateful for as I approach the end of this marathon sprint:
  • That most parents at my school have a sense of humour.
  • That most of my colleagues have a sense of humour.
  • That I have a good relationship with the director of our childcare centre (and that she has a sense of humour), which helped ensure that all the children were supervised by caring adults at all times.
  • That my boss (who has the best sense of humour of all) is the embodiment of grace under pressure, keeping a smile on her face all day, through parent complaints and teacher whining and children's outbursts. For a while this morning, in the midst of all the chaos, she was making her rounds while cuddling a sobbing 3-year old who had melted down during preschool dropoff. If all teachers of young children had a role model and mentor so completely committed to putting the children first, the school system would be a very different place. Everyone should, at some point in their career, have a leader, a mentor, a friend (because I do consider her a friend) like Camryn.
Don't get me wrong: it was a magical day, a memorable day, a magnificent day -- how can the first day of kindergarten be anything BUT magnificent?!. And the children.... oh, the children, who I already love so much my heart could burst with it. You will all learn more about them very very soon. But right now, after running through the same first day routine twice, and making no less than 5 calls to childcare, and putting out 101 fires about our aides' schedules, and repeating my parents' night speech three times to make sure every parent heard it.... I am just glad that this magical, memorable, magnificent day... is over.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Names on a page

So, classroom setup is going more slowly than I would like -- why do nasty chores like bulletin boards always take 3 times as long as I want them to? Ugggh, I HATE HATE HATE bulletin boards, but that is another post for another day, because something magic happened on Thursday afternoon, and THAT, dear Internet, is what I want to write about.

What is this magic thing, you ask?! Late on Thursday afternoon, my boss (we have a weird admin structure at our private school, so her title is actually Director of Primary, but her function is basically that of principal for pre-K through 3rd grade. Anyway, her name here will be Camryn) brought me a piece of paper. On that piece of paper were 19 names. 11 girls. 8 boys. There is a George and an Ellie and a Riley and a James. There is, of course, Brayden (who is repeating kindergarten this year, and will be with me full time.) There is Tommy, whose mom requested me because he is apparently a very tiny, very cuddly little boy, and she once saw me sitting in my story chair with no less than 3 rugrats curled into my lap. There are last names reflecting a rainbow of ethnicities, and there are nicknames written in parentheses...

And suddenly, magically, there are children all over my classroom. Don't misunderstand, the actual George and Ellie and Riley and company do not arrive until next Thursday, but somehow, as soon as that list was in my hands, I was picturing little faces as I set up chairs and hung alphabet charts and sorted blocks and folded doll clothes. In my mind I was holding little hands and stroking little cheeks. Suddenly, with a simple list of 19 names, I loved those children, and they were mine and I was theirs, and even the damn bulletin boards took on new meaning.

This is not a new phenomenon to me: it has happened to me in every situation where "getting a list" is a meaningful concept, whether it was teaching preschool or running summer camp. Somehow those names make it real. A few minutes after receiving my list, my colleagues received theirs, and the inevitable "who did you get?" questions began. But here's the thing for me: I don't care who anyone else got. I am fully aware that there are 60 other kindergarten students arriving on Thursday. I'm sure that they are lovely children. But these 19 munchkins? They are mine. And even now, while most of them are just names on a page, I love them the best.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bonjour mes amis, bonjour

So I went to school today, which seems like a logical place to start my first post on this, my shiny! new! blog! Due to some expansion at This School (S-E-V-E-N preschool classes, God help us, everyone), my kindergarten classroom has been moved to a different wing. Okay, let's work on accuracy here: my kindergarten BELONGINGS have been moved to a different classroom, in a different wing. The room itself, with its very own bathroom and abundance of cupboards, has, sadly, remained in its original location.

MOVING ON: The new classroom is lovely indeed, and it is Standard Operating Procedure at This School that if you are moving to a new classroom, you get to choose yourself some brand new furniture from shiny catalogues. My brand new furniture is all solid wood and yellow trim and includes an entire shelving unit dedicated to storing paper of various sizes and colours, and also a new custom-built (read: deep enough for poster board) cabinet that fills up a weird gap in the counter that lines 2 walls. Altogether, it is GORGEOUS, and almost enough to make up for the lack of bathroom. My rugrats will have to find their way across the hall to the multi-stall restrooms that we share with the rest of our wing. I am sure this will be more difficult for me than for them.

Of course, I neglected to take "before" photos of my classroom setup today, because forgetting to take photos is particular gift of mine. I basically managed to figure out my furniture placement, wrangle an extension cord (pays to be friends with the tech guy!), round up the 6 chairs that somehow did not make the transition from old room to new room, and cover my hallway bulletin boards. (Sidebar: I could happily strangle whatever teacher decided that covered bulletin boards and cutesy borders were evidence of being a Dedicated Teacher.) I actually really hate bulletin boards and my cheater solution is to cover them in brightly coloured broadcloth and trim them with theme-neutral borders that can stay up all year. Then I had to go home because there was no more work for me to do because....

There is a big drama surrounding the installation of carpet in my room (again, accuracy: the drama is actually around the failure of carpet to be installed) but I will spare you the details. Punchline is this: tomorrow is apparently a surprise! day off! for me, in the hopes that the carpet elves will come in my absence. I think I will pick up the school credit card and go shopping. FOR CLASSROOM SUPPLIES, I PROMISE. Ikea, anyone?

In other news, I have started a particularly geeky first draft of a new Kindergarten Report Card. The current version requires cutting and pasting WITH ACTUAL SCISSORS AND ACTUAL GLUE to insert the comments. Although I see the retro-charm of this, I do not feel any need to live like it was 1983, and so am creating an excel document that may send some of my colleagues into full-blown anxiety attacks.I will keep you all posted. Anyone interested in sharing the content of your kinder report cards?