This is an interesting time in my life. I write articles about parenting and education and I also substitute at local elementary schools. Basically, I’ve become a professional observer and documenter as I don’t yet have a classroom of my own, and my children are now teens. So, though I’m experienced and a seasoned parent of sorts, I’m still basically on the sidelines at least for now.
For this article, I wanted to write about a kindergarten classroom that I substituted in. I’ll call it Classroom A. As a substitute, you never quite know what you’re saying yes to for the day. All you know is that when you commit to a job for a day, that it’s temporary and that nothing can be so bad that you can’t leave it for good at the end of the day and never come back. So, I thought.
Well, I’ve sadly discovered that there are certain overly active (exhausted) children, and even sour negative teacher’s that can challenge any person’s resolve or philosophy no matter how strong, but more on that later.
Upon arriving to Classroom A, Miss Young teacher was sitting at her computer printing out detailed instructions for me. I took the paper and scanned the daily schedule and the day’s lesson and then took a quick look around the classroom. There was order all around. “Wow”, I thought and quickly began taking mental notes. I enjoy learning and teaching as long as the environment is conducive to it. This takes work and maintenance. I applaud this young teacher.
Enter Classroom B, this place resembled what I imagine a classroom would look like if a window was left open. I remember not even being able to find a pen to mark attendance. The clutter on the desk alone sent me home with a pounding headache that day.
I don’t mean to slam any teacher, as I know it would be a challenge for me to keep up with the onslaught of paperwork that blows through a school year. But, children do follow the leader and so it was more than my mind could bear that day to see the trash, clutter, and excess scattered about in that classroom. Oh, and there was no lesson plan left for me either. Sigh.
Anyway, back to Classroom A, Miss Young teacher had designed the room in such a way as to see clearly the major center areas including reading, home living, blocks, language, and art. There were two half round tables opposite and diagonal of each other. One was for the Classroom teacher to work with small groups; the other was for the Teacher’s Aide to work with a small group. Each table had clear view of the children who were working at the other centers.
Each teacher had about 5 kids to work with and so that left between 5 to 7 kids to work independently. The centers had several choices for the students to work on and the tasks were of the nature that they could be repeated at least twice in the 20 to 30 minute lesson time. The morning was such that after this lesson was over, the groups of children switched and so the lesson repeated. The teacher also used this format later in the day for teaching math.
The teacher’s aide was working on a writing skill and also on a cut and glue activity. At my table, I was using a large printed book and doing some shared reading. I enjoy teaching young children to read, so I was glad the teacher’s aide was “stuck” doing the cut and glue activities which I personally detest.
I went home that day tired, but with a renewed hope that someday I could teach in a classroom that flowed with organization. I was glad to have had a teaching experienced that redeemed the negative experience of Classroom B. Thank you Miss Young teacher!