As an Early Childhood teacher, I am so very aware that it is already March. I changed the calendar from February to March and asked the children to draw/color as many flowers as possible. We wrote a sentence or two about the flowers. Yes, five year old children have the ability to write words. Are they all spelled correctly? Of course not. I am just thrilled when they get the first and last letters correct. That is a huge triumph! And some children just draw pictures at this point. That is another huge triumph!
Another triumph is that it is already March and I have a wonderful, talkative, excited class. I think that I might have done something right on that first day of school back in August. Oh goodness…I realize that my next blog will focus on the first day of school and my usual concerns. I had to start at the beginning and last August was not a good time for me to start a blog. So…I plan to write about the first day of school in March. I will talk lots about the first day and the first week and the first month. Trust me…my March would not be so much fun if my August and September lacked some tough decisions on my part! The road to March is marked by dozens of repeated instructions and multiple interventions as well as many quiet talks with those who forgot the rules. Sometimes, I also have a quiet talk with myself about sticking to the rules and the schedule.
Sticking to a schedule is a tough one. Some of the 22 children in my class have never been away from their Mom for more than 30 minutes at a time and maybe not even for that long. These are mostly children who speak Spanish the moment they leave my class in the afternoon. My class is in English and they can speak English…some better than others. After four years of Spanish in high school and college, I am beyond excellent with 10 words in Spanish. The other thousands of words never seem to appear in my mind. Spanish just was not my optimum educational moment. I know now that if I had regularly attended the Spanish lab that I would be further along in my quest to speak Spanish. I had a difficult time attending the lab because of those gigantic earphones (after all, I wasn’t in college yesterday!) and the earphones were made for elephant ears. The earphones totally ruined my hair and I couldn’t handle such disaster. I had no idea that I would grow up and need that language. In fact, teaching children was the last thing on my mind.
Teaching children who speak English as a second language was not even in my vocabulary. I cannot imagine a five year old child leaving their Mom for the first time; hearing mostly English for over six hours; listening to a strange person seeming to talk continuously; sitting with children whom they have never seen before; as well as walking through a very large school with other older children who must seem like giants. Sounds a bit daunting to me. That is why I need to find a reservoir of empathy on the first day and every other day all year. This might be far more important than sticking to a schedule immediately! So the very most important teacher vocabulary word for today is EMPATHY! According to Dictionary.com, empathy is defined as “the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another”. In other words, help the children feel as comfortable and supported as possible in this different environment. By the way, having empathy for the parents is also a must! Be on their side and sooner or later, they will be on your side! Trust me on this!!