Kindergarten class. You would think it would be easier, right? Twenty-five six year olds…all with new boots and sneakers. How do I know? Because each child told me so as he or she showed me shoes. Okay, so I made the mistake of saying how cute one little girl’s boots were. Suddenly everyone had on new shoes and boots. The problem? I had only been there ten minutes. 3:15 was a long way off, and I had much to do before then. We have full day kindergarten at the school where I substitute, a full day of teaching and keeping the peace in class.
You need to re-think your substitute practices when substituting for kindergarten. To keep students focused on the lesson, I usually engage them in conversation. However, when I engage young children in conversation or simply ask a question about the story I am reading, I get the answer I’m looking for and then; “Guess what?”
Now this is where I should realize that it is time to move on with the lesson. But I’m a softie for the angelic face of a child. I say, “What?” This is my mistake. Once you allow one student to tell you “what” the others want to also. The really funny thing is that all children seem to have the same “what” story about an aunt, neighbor, or mom who fell while shampooing the dog in the bathtub when the phone rang and the baby cried, and the mailman came with a package requiring a signature.
That was in the morning. After lunch, I tackled social studies. Thanksgiving is coming. What are the students thankful for, the teacher wrote in her lesson plans. Ask students and write their answers on the easel page after reading two Thanksgiving books. Twenty-five children, whose names I did not know, fidgeted on the carpet during and after the stories. I attempted to keep their attention by asking questions about the drawings in the book, but each time I asked a question, the child added a codicil about someone shampooing a dog.
I also didn’t realize that some children do not know how to spell their names. And that these names are creatively spelled. I couldn’t spell them either. Nor could I understand the pronunciation. So I asked the students to return to their tables and get their name tags and then come back to the carpet. Now I could spell the Ra’shons and Ny’Urias, the Maliks and Seamuses.
What am I thankful for? I’m thankful that I do not have to try and accomplish lesson plans with these students every day, although I’m sure I would get better at it as I went along. At least I would learn not to fall into the “what” trap. And never compliment a child’s clothing. God bless all teachers and substitutes everywhere. Enjoy Thanksgiving with your families.