Top Five Reasons I Love Teaching Kindergarten
What Will You Be When You Grow Up?
I remember being asked what I want to be when I grow up when I was in kindergarten. I remember looking at my teacher with a puzzled expression and saying "A teacher". I thought that was such a strange question. Even at the age of five I knew I wanted to teacher. I couldn't even think of another alternative. I did not take the traditional college route after graduating high school. It took me nearly twelve years to get my undergraduate degree in early childhood education, but I was determined to do whatever it took to make my dream of becoming a teacher come true. Learning how to be a teacher had it's ups and downs and there were times when I wanted to quit. I am so glad that I didn't! Becoming a teacher is one of the most rewarding and challenging things I have ever done.
My first job straight out of college was teaching kindergarten. I loved those kids like they were my own. Unfortunately my position was cut at the end of the year and I had to be moved. The following year I was placed in preschool where I taught four year old kindergarten. While teaching preschool children is definitely rewarding, it is also exhasting. I don't get paid much, I work a lot of extra hours, my efforts sometimes seem unappreciated, and I spend hundreds of dollars every year on my students, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I love teaching kindergarten!
Here are the top five reasons that I love teaching kindergarten.
How Do You Feel About Your Job?
Are you passionate about your job?
Kindergarteners Are Eager To Please
It has been my experience that students between the ages of four and six are really eager to please their teachers. This is especially true if they feel like their teacher loves and respects them. I tell my students every single day how much I love them and how special they are. This not only makes them feel good about themselves, but it also benefits me in several ways. I am rewarded with hugs and kind words like "You're the best teacher". It also motivates my students to want to succeed. That means that if I am excited about something, they are excited too. They work hard to learn the material I am teaching and they are so proud of themselves when they've accomplished a task. It warms my heart to see their smiling faces as they hold up a project they are proud of, or tell me something they have learned that day.
Everything Is New And Exciting
When teaching kindergarteners everything you teach them is new. It's really fun to teach children about things they've never thought of before. I get to see the light bulb go off as they make connections to new materials. I can't even describe the feeling I get the first time one of my students recognizes a new word while reading a book or walking down the hallway. Their face lights up as they realize that they are learning to read. Just thinking about it makes me smile.
It's also really fun to come up with fun and interactive lessons. Since kindergarteners need to learn so much, I try to come up with activities that will engage them and make learning really fun. I figure that if they are having fun, they will retain the information and be eager to continue learning.
Great Teacher Resources
There are a lot of teacher resources out on the market, but these are just a few that really helped me.
This has been the most helpful book I've found so far. It provides and easy guide for teaching guided reading groups. It also features lesson plan templates, and pacing suggestions. I love this book.
This is a good book full of ideas for what other students can be doing when you are teaching small group guided reading. It has some great ideas.
Differentiation seems to be the key to teaching to each child's individual needs. This book give activity ideas and organizational ideas that will help differentiate literacy centers.
I Am Making A Difference
I am making a huge difference in the lives of my kindergarteners. I try to give them experiences that will have a lasting impact on their lives. I firmly believe that first hand experiences are the best way to teach a child. Since budget cuts don't allow for many field trips, I have to come up with other experiences to offer them.
A few times I decided to hatch eggs in my classroom. We set up the incubator, candled the eggs, watched the chicks and ducks hatch, and cared for the birds after they hatched. This was prabably a once in a lifetime experience for these kids. When they are grown many of them won't remember me, but they will always remember that they got to watch chicks and ducks hatch, and help take care of them. Those are the kinds of experiences I want to leave with my students. It is truly amazing to know that I am making an impact on them that will last the rest of their lives.
Kindergarteners Are Funny And They Think I'm Funny
Kindergarteners say really funny things. Sometimes they do it on purpose, but most of the time they don't. Even if they don't say something funny, sometimes they just do something funny. One day a student was wiping down the table. Another teacher said to them "You need to use some elbow grease". So the student put the rag down and began wiping the table with his elbow! I laughed so hard I could hardly contain myself. These kinds of moments make my job worth while. You just never know what these kids will do or say. They are also desperate to compliment their teacher. One day as I was walking down the hall a student said to me "I like your chicks....and I like your hair".
Kindergarteners also don't judge me when I make a fool out of myself. I can get up and dance, sing, make faces and all sorts of crazy things and they just think I'm hilarious. Any adult would think I'm crazy, but they kids think it's great. It is really fun to act like a five year old sometimes. I'm not ashamed to make a fool of myself as long as my students are learning from it!
They Believe Everything You Say
My kindergarteners believe every single thing I tell them. This makes life easy for me because they don't question the content I am teaching. Sometimes their parents will come and tell me a story about how their children corrected them on a subject because Mrs. Hainey told them something different. Sometimes I like to have fun with this and tell me kids little white lies. For example I told my kids that I'm the best teacher ever and they whole heartedly believe me. I also told them that I am 99 years old, when in reality I am only 33.
As children get older they not only become less gullable, but they also question facts. This is not a bad thing, but it makes teaching a little less fun.
Teaching Is Not Always Fun
But There's No Other Job I'd Want
Obviously there are some drawbacks to becoming a teacher. State and federal requirements are hard to meet and sometimes just plain inappropriate. The pay is ridiculously low and the work load is absurd, but if teaching is your passion, you will find joy it. I don't always like going to inservices, paying for supplies out of pocket, and giving five year olds standardized tests, but the positive impact that young children have on my life are much greater than the negatives that come with the job. I hope that I never tire of teaching and still have a spark inside me until the time comes to retire.