Hi, there! Mary Wade back again for a quick post as promised on Twitter a few weeks back:
Jumping from teaching 5th grade to kindergarten certainly made for a steep learning curve in those first several weeks, intensified by the fact that everyone in my family has taken turns passing around various illnesses ever since school started.
But now that things have finally settled down and I’m feeling more like myself as a teacher again, I’d like to share some insights. When necessity forces us to keep things simple, what matters most? We already know the answer, of course: relationships, relationships, and more relationships.
That was not really a surprise. But what did surprise me was what does not matter as much. It turns out that contrary to what Pinterest or other pressures might have us thinking, being a kindergarten teacher does not require…
…love of crafts (nope; hands-on exploration through centers is my jam)
…Perfect handwriting (I really thought this would be so much more important for kindergarten as they are learning to form letters, but it’s just been a great chance for me to revisit my own letter formation!)
… Drawing skills for labeling everything (kids are more than willing to help with this, and it creates more shared ownership anyway).
…Every manipulative or tool under the sun (I felt crushed at first under the weight of things advertised at LakeShore Learning; I since have learned that an exacto-knife + recycled cardboard can make letter tiles on the cheap in a much more environmentally-friendly manner, anyway). However, I would be remiss if I did not give a shout-out to my many incredible and generous family members and friends that donated all sorts of beautiful supplies and furniture to get my room assembled nearly overnight!
…Posters for everything under the sun, waiting and ready for kids (turns out, the kids pay more attention to things they help create anyway; and it really is OK to build things up slowly over time. I have had many moments where I felt the impulse to prepare something for students, but then realized that it would be a more meaningful learning experience to co-construct it).
Signing my contract to teach kindergarten 6 days before school started was one of the crazier things I’ve ever done in my life. But now, I’m grateful for the way that it forced me to let go of less-important extras, and to focus on co-construction, sustainability, and ultimately, better work-life balance for me and more ownership for students.
What are the most important elements that have distilled in your room over the years? What are you glad you’ve let go of? How have these decisions improved what matters most for you and your students?
featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto