Sunday, August 3, 2008

And So We Start Again

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to attend Steve Spangler's Science in the Rockies, an amazing three day conference that taught me how to make science an exciting experience for kids. Check out Steve's website here: Also, to see photos and video of what I, my colleagues and 175 other teachers did, visit here:

Steve Spangler is quite a guy. He has that passion for teaching that those of us who love what we do can relate to. Every aspect of his presentation was how to get the kids involved, and how to make it all about the kids.

Along with obtaining an enormous amount of information about science, Steve said something that really resonated with me. He said that if a teacher isn't nervous about the new school year starting, then it is time for that teacher to retire.

Well, my new school year starts in 10 more sleeps, and I am nervous as all get out. Guess that means I have at least another year in me.

This will be my sixth year doing this, a relatively short time on the one hand, but long enough to have gained some confidence on the other. And I am confident that I have some wonderful things planned (we're talking lots of science, people! Science in preschool - how cool will that be?). I am confident that I am able to talk the language of the three year old, and I am confident that most of the stuff that has been awesome in the past will most likely be awesome this year.

Why am I nervous? What if the class doesn't "gel"? What if my ability to communicate with a three year old suddenly fails with this new group of kids? What if they suddenly realize I am not all that cool? What if they don't think I'm funny? What if they aren't potty trained? What if I suddenly become incontinent? What if more than a couple of them are biters, or spitters, or temper tantrum throwers (I can handle two or three, more than that, I need reinforcements).

I work in a cooperative preschool. This means that the parents are part of the teaching team, they are part of their children's education. At least one parent is in the classroom with me every day. Pretty awesome, but a lot of my nerves come from wondering what the parents are thinking about me.

The first few weeks in my class are chaos. A wonderful, loud, unorganized, chaos. I give the kids time and freedom to explore their classroom. Little by little we get down to business, eventually a routine is achieved, but I leave a lot of that up to the kids. For example, I might have written on my daily schedule 15 minutes for music. But if the kids have found a musical groove, I am not going to cut things short just because time's up.

I am nervous that parents aren't going to get that. That the chaos will drive them nuts. And they won't understand how important it is. I try to give everyone a head's up before school starts, and I hope that each and every parent that walks into my classroom will experience the absolute joy of watching their child learn how to navigate in this new environment.

You know what? I am nervous. But I am also really excited. I absolutely love what I do, and I simply can't wait to get to know my new students, and their families, and have yet another incredible year together. All that other stuff? I can handle it - except maybe the incontinence, but hopefully I have a year or to left before that becomes an issue for me. Maybe when that happens, the nervousness will have worn off and it will be time for me to find a new career. Spokesperson for Depends, perhaps?


SKRdad2000 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
José said...

When I first started playing competitive soccer, I used to get nervous. To the point that it wasn't unheard of for me to throw up before games. About 5 minutes into a game, the nervousness and fear would disappear and the confidence in my abilities (and the actual abilities, of course) would take over and I would be fine. I used to be embarrassed by this... Until my dad, who to this day is my personal coach(on pretty much everything) told me that all the Greats got nervous. It was a sign of how much of themselves (ourselves? I never lacked in confidence, apparently I still don't. Heh...) they put into their craft and how passionate they were about the game..... I've always found the same to be true about any walk of life especially teaching. I used to love teaching math, any and all levels. I used to panic every year when it was time to meet my new students. I was a specialist, brought in to gather the lost sheep that were struggling at the back of the pack and at the same time, push the ones at the front of the pack to even greater heights, without being too arrogant, I can honestly say that I was good. The director if the school I taught at still contacts me every so often to see how I am doing and wondering if I am ready to come back and still has a standing offer that if I want back, she’ll MAKE room for me somehow (she once mentioned firing the teacher that replaced me to make room for me if I wanted back. I THINK she was kidding…)… Anyway, I was always terrified that I would lose the knack for connecting with the students or that this time, I would be unable to reach a particular student(s) and fail…. After that long drawn out story all about me (heh), my point is that I believe Mr. Spangler is right. Teaching is all about the passion for teaching, for learning and most important of all, for the kids and the learning process of said kids. Once a teacher loses it or doubts it, it’s time to leave and find something else…

I’m very proud of you. You are a wonderful teacher and have that passion to a very high level. I love to hear you talk about your babies and see that gleam in your eye when telling me about a particular time when your strategy succeeded to reach a student that had been having a rough time at school. I will give you the highest praise any good parent can give a teacher, I would have you as a teacher to my children any time…

Mamacita (Mamacita) said...

In a way, a teacher is an actor: an actor playing to a new audience every forty minutes or so. Of COURSE we're nervous! We're standing in the wings waiting to go on stage!

How lovely that you, too, love Steve Spangler and all of his amazing ideas. My family is totally enamored of him and of his awesome website. And, ever since I signed up for his Experiment of the Week, we've not had a dull day this summer, PLUS, we've got all kinds of ideas for science project this year.

Amy H said...

This post brings me back to the days of being that parent in class, not too sure of what I should be doing with myself in the class room was I being helpful enough, is there something more I should be doing, did I talk to sternly to the "crazy trantrum" kid. Did let my own kid down did I pay too much attention to them or not enough....did they even want me there...did I talk too much to the other parents and not enough to the they just hate me...did I do it all wrong???!!! OMG! what did I get myself into!
Is my kid as annoying as the other one, are they making friends, what if no one talks to them, what if they are the bitter! What if they don't share! What if what if what if! and yet strangly enough I can't wait for Max to go to school so I can do it all over again! Knowing you all the way I do I think it will be easier this time around, but then again will you expect more from me as as a friend then a stranger, or will I let you all down...Oh boy too much to think about...
I guess I have to get potty training done to even start to "worry" about it all! Unless of course you don't mind letting Max outside to go pee!
Love you Marin! Hope you have a great start to the year! I can't wait ti hear about your new kids and the adventures you will have with them!

becky w. said...

My son is going to be in your class this year and can I just tell you that I AM SO EXCITED! Just from reading your blog, I know that he will think you are GREAT and I know that you will "get" him. We're so happy you will be his teacher, and we can't wait for the fun to begin!