Sunday, August 17, 2008

The First Week

Well, school has started. And can I just say? It's awesome! I was so nervous (see previous post), but after only a few hours with this new group of kids, I know that it will be another fun year. Each and every one of them is wonderful, and I look forward to getting to know them, and their families, this year.

The first week of school has a lot of the same things that happen year after year. There are always accidents, there are always tears (from both the 3 year olds, as well as the grown-ups), there are always spills, there is always a naked child running around, and there are always special "aha" moments. And each year, stuff happens that has never happened before. That's how this job never becomes boring or run of the mill. There is always something different for me to experience.

Every year I get peed on, this year was no exception. The little girl was sitting on my lap, telling me about her play dough creation, when suddenly I felt that familiar warm, damp feeling spreading over my leg.

Me: Honey, you just had an accident, let's go change your clothes.
Her: No, I didn't. (looking slightly offended that I would suggest such a thing)
Me: Yes, you did - look, my leg is wet.
Her: I think you had an accident, and you should go change your clothes.
Me: (thinking to myself - I really need to bring a change of clothes to school)
Her: It's OK, Mrs. V., everyone has accidents
Me: I know, so let's go change you out of your wet clothes
Her: You know, there is a potty right there so you don't have accidents
Me: (choosing my battle) You are right.

Last year, I was puked on. Not just a little bit, but literally from head to toe; I think that little girl puked up an entire week of meals down the front of me - I was covered. My colleague had to hose me down. A little pee on my leg was gravy compared to that.

This year I have a couple of puzzle experts. I hate puzzles, always have. As a preschool teacher, it is the bane of my existence to have to put together puzzles at the end of the day that the kids have left scattered all over the floor. Ack! It takes me forever. And it gives me a headache. And these are just 6 and 8 piece puzzles. It really gets hard when one of those 25 piece puzzles is spread from one end of my classroom to the other. Usually I just throw all the pieces back in the box, and hope all the pieces are there.

I own the fact that I am not a fan of puzzles, and I always share this information with my students. They usually feel sorry for me ("It must make you sad that you can't do puzzles") or slightly embarrassed for me ("All grown-ups can do puzzles, why can't you?"). When a couple of my students dragged out my neat and tidy stack of already put together puzzles, and promptly dumped them all over the place, I said, after mentally sighing that there goes my afternoon, "I am terrible at puzzles, I hope you guys can put these back together", one of the little girls looks up at me and says, "Don't you worry, Mrs. V., I know puzzles." And she did. I am replacing the 8 piece puzzles with the more challenging 25 piece puzzles this week - she informed me that the current puzzles were "incredibly easy" and "not all that fun". She also gave me a reassuring pat on the shoulder as she said, "But these puzzles are sometimes a little hard."

Of course, there were spills, although, not as many as in the past. I am big on self reliance, and a skill you learn in my class is how to pour your own juice and water. It is fun to watch the kids navigate the large pitcher (it's actually quite small, but it looks gigantic in the hands of a three year old); they hold it shakily over their cup, and watch in amazement as the liquid goes where it is supposed to (in the cup). And they are so awestruck by their accomplishment, that they just keep pouring and pouring until the cup over flows. And sometimes the phenomenon of juice creating an ever growing puddle in front of them is so cool that they continue to pour. That is why there are always lots of paper towels around. Because everyone spills, it is no big deal, but it has to be cleaned up. This week, when I recited that particular mantra, the reply I got from the puddle (lake) creator was, "Oh, I don't clean up spills; that's my mom's job." To which I replied, "At school, it is your job." She definitely did not like that aspect of the preschool experience.

This year, I found myself in a conversation that I had never experienced before. A little guy walks up to me and asks when I'm going to get out my guitar and play for them. Hmmmm....I don't play guitar (I would like to - I have a guitar - but I never seem to have enough time for lessons. OK - we all know that is a cop out. Anyways...). I tell this inquisitive little guy that I don't play guitar, so I won't be getting it out today. He walks off, seemingly satisfied with my answer. Until five minutes later when he walks up to me again and asks "When are you going to play your really loud guitar and sing for us?" Well, no pressure there. Not only do I need to play guitar, but it needs to be an electric guitar and I have to sing as well. I am currently trying to find myself lessons - I can't let this little guy down. (Hope he will be okay with an acoustic guitar...)

Another first for me this year was the pet unicorn one of my students brought to school. This unicorn, Uni, is rainbow colored, with red legs and pink eyes, and enjoys eating grass on the playground. She also likes the special unicorn apples I keep in my pocket. Uni and I hit it off right away - and her owner was pleased that I understood how special Uni is, and how imporant it is that she has her own place on the carpet. So I could better know what Uni looked like, I asked her owner to paint me a picture of her....

So far, there has been no nakedness...but the year is young.

I started incorporating all the science I learned over the summer into my day this week. Although transitions are a little shaky (how do I get three year olds to move away from the instuments and join me for a science experiment? Still searching for a quick and engaging song....suggestions?) We made necklaces from the UV Beads; and the kids were amazed at their changing color abilities. Two kids figured out right away that the sun was what causing the change. Most of them thought it was magic - which is fine. Because now I am the cool teacher who gives out magic beads. We are continuing our discussion next week. Eventually they will all know that the sun is the real magic and I am not all that magical.

We also did the Bouncing Bubble Experiment, and it was the coolest thing to watch the kids figure out how to blow the bubble, then get it off of the wand and then bounce it. A lot of steps for little ones, and the look of pure amazement on their faces when they figured it out was worth the soapy lake that my classroom became.

This year is going to be great.

1 comment:

becky w. said...

I feel your puzzle pain. My issue with them is that I need to know that all the pieces are accounted for because there's nothing worse than searching for that elusive last piece. When I was doing day care I had a puzzle tub that (theoretically) I could have the kids just put everything in at clean up time without worrying about constructing each puzzle. It drove my husband CRAZY because he would come home from work after the day care kids had been picked up and find me on the ground putting all the puzzles together to store in the tub.

Puzzles and guitar issues aside, it will be a great year!