Friday, February 20, 2009

A Shout Out to Preschool Teachers Everywhere!

Last week I gave a speech to beginning teachers and mentors in a large school district in my state. I always begin my presentations by trying to get to know my audience, much like the way I get to know the students in my classroom on the first day of school. So I begin by playing a little game I call "That's Me!" I say a statement like "I am a high school teacher" and all the high school teachers jump up and shout, "That's Me!" It's just loads of fun. So on this day I named everything I could think of from beginning teachers to mentors to elementary, middle, and high school teachers to administrators to people who wandered in off the street because they heard there was food.

When I finished I asked, "Did I forget anyone?" All of a sudden a gang of teachers jumped up and yelled, "Preschool teachers!" Preschool teachers...oh my gosh! How could I have forgotten about them? I acknowledged them and apologized for the oversight. I then took a minute to tell them about my experience with my granddaughter Taylor as she started preschool last August. It had been a defining moment.

So as I was driving home, I had a little time (three hours, to be exact) to think about the role of the preschool teacher. I was thinking about how cute those little kiddies are and how they never curse at the teacher or forget their supplies or homework. I had some nice little daydreams about becoming a preschool teacher, just another idea in a long list of potential opportunities that I've thought about recently. I must be having a career identity crisis.

Today I had the chance to test my skills. I had Taylor over so I thought we'd have some school time after nap. We started a little shaky, though. I first became aware that Taylor was awake when I heard her shrieking, "It's a HEART ATTACK! It's a HEART ATTACK!" from the bed. Apparently, the dog was excited to hear Taylor rustling in the covers and jumped on her as a friendly doggie greeting. Taylor was not quite as excited.

After a nice snack of cheese nips and apple juice (see...I know what they eat), I gathered the materials and started "school." First I wrote Taylor's name in big letters with my marker and asked her to copy them with hers. She did really well with "T." She did pretty well with "A." Then she took the marker and wrote on my sleeve. Realizing that the first green mark was not nearly big enough, she made another one, this time longer and thicker, and running the length of my arm. Before I could reprimand her, she began writing on her own hand.

"Taylor," I said. "What's Mommy going to say when she sees marker on your hand?"

She continued working on her body art creation. "She will say she LUB me."

Hmmm. I then used my best refocus tools to get her back on track. Cookies.

She attempted the other letters but was obviously losing interest so I decided to try something I had heard preschool teachers talk about: a part of their curriculum called "dramatic play." Taylor loves to play "pretend" so I thought this activity would be very educational.

We walked over to the toy box, and I grabbed some play cups, plates, and a little set of utensils - a spoon, a little strainer, and a measuring cup. Taylor immediately grabbed the strainer and came at me like a race horse out of a gate. Before I knew what was happening she announced, "Let's flush out your nose" and jammed the cute little strainer halfway up my face. I was horrified, not to mention in pain, so I tried to find a diversion. I reached for a ball, but she was on me again, this time explaining, "We have to get all that gooky out!"

Finally I had the ball in my clutches.

"Here, Taylor. Catch." Taylor obediently caught the ball...then she promptly beaned me in the just flushed nose.

"We're playing foot-fall," she squealed.

Then I got another idea. Preschool teachers surely take their students outside to learn about nature. Taylor and I filled her Disney Princess pitcher with water and braced ourselves against the winter elements to water some flowers. She did great for .2 seconds. Then she "watered" my car. It's okay. The ice will melt in the spring.

It was about that time I realized that I may not ever be a good preschool teacher. So I decided to conduct a little research.

"Taylor," I asked. "What do you learn at school?"

"My A's and B's" she answered.

"What else?"

"I learn to be nice. No biting. No pushing."

I'm nose flushing?

But it's okay, Taylor. We can play school like that anytime you want....because I LUB you. And thank you for helping me understand that there is no preschool classroom in my future. Not for all the cheese nips and apple juice in the world.

1 comment:

mnmsalyer said...

That kind of lub is exactly why preschool teachers can do what they do. More power to them! My little once-monthly class of 4 kids wore me out each time I taught them last year, but the lights that went on in their eyes when they succeeded at doing something or when I did something that made them happy were worth the prep work and the exhaustion.

Now I need to tell you that I'm tagging you. I know it's not like you need the pressure of having to write another anything, but when I think of people I like to learn more and more about and people whose writing I love to read, you come right to the top of the list. If you get the chance, I'd love for you to do it. (It took me at least an entire month to sit down and get mine done, I'm embarassed to admit.)

Here are the rules:

(1) Share 6 non- (though not necessarily un-) important things about yourself on your blog.
(2) Tag 6 blogging friends to then do the same.
(3) Let each person know s/he’s been tagged by leaving a comment on his or her blog.
(4) Let your tagger know when your entry is up.