Editor’s note: the following article is part of a series of articles The Ripple is doing entitled “The Day in the Life of…” The article is written in the first person from the reporter’s perspective.
One way to describe a day in the life of a kindergarten teacher is to compare it to a Broadway play. The day is filled with song and dance and theatrical storytelling.
While it is definitely far from a boring day of work, being a kindergarten teacher is far from an easy job. Kindergarten teachers have state requirements for their students just like all grade levels above them and are given a classroom full of students who have a very wide range of skills and capabilities.
My day starts with a few quick meet and greets with Bethany Lowder, the teacher I would be spending the day with, and her classroom assistant Tammy Oliver and Principal Charles Garrett. Since it’s early in the school year and the school setting is new to the children, the teachers and principal wait at the drop off area for children to arrive and take them single file to their classrooms so no one gets lost in the new surroundings.
Each child is greeted with a warm smile and cheerful encouragement that today is going to be a great day. The year is new, however, and there are a few students who are still struggling with the idea of venturing into the world of education and away from the comforts of mom and dad. This is when Principal Garrett steps in and handles the tears and fighting with patient and strong compassion.
Once in the classroom, students are instructed to start a worksheet that awaits them on their respective desks, and “Mrs. Lowder” manages to gain their attention to tell them that they are learning the number three today.
She shows the students what a three looks like and how you draw it while demonstrating what they will be doing on their worksheets on the very handy smartboard that stands where most would look for a chalkboard.
As the children work adamantly on their worksheets Mrs. Oliver and Mrs. Lowder walk around the room answering questions posed by tiny, raised hands and gently correcting mistakes that they notice.
The quiet and focused work must come to an end through and Mrs. Lowder calls for everyone to put their pencils down and join her on the colorful alphabet and number rug at the center of the room. The music begins with the “Good Morning Song,” which the children have already committed to memory and is followed up with “Numbers Rock.”
After a few morning routines, Mrs. Lowder moves on to the ongoing theme for the week: gingerbread men. Mrs. Lowder says that while she is expected to follow a curriculum like all other teachers at Fall Creek, she can choose a theme that she will use to teach it.
The children have already heard two stories of gingerbread men earlier in the week and today they will learn about the gingerbread man’s sister in the book “Gingerbread Girl.”
The children are clearly excited and very involved in the story, guessing what will happen on the following page as the story goes along. Some are so enthralled they can’t help but edge closer to the teacher as each page turns.
Once story time is over and the class has time to reflect on what they’ve read, it’s time to move to activity centers. These centers include puzzles, writing, reading, housekeeping, computers, math, language arts, shapes and art.
Students are assigned a center with a partner where there are activities to perform at each station and the teachers rotate the children every 15 minutes.
While the children work in their stations, Mrs. Lowder pulls them aside individually to assess where they are academically so that she can set goals and track their progress throughout the year.
After a couple of center rotations it is finally time to hit the playground. The children are released to let out that pent up energy on swing sets, monkey bars and slides while the teachers have a moment to take a breath and share lesson plan ideas and upcoming events.
After a short break the children are rounded back together and head back in to the classroom to go over class news that will be printed out and sent home to parents that evening with the child’s homework assignment and classroom announcements.
Finally lunch time arrives and the teachers must tag along with each student as they order their lunch or sit down to unpack their lunchboxes. By the time all of the students have a meal in front of them and are ready to eat the teachers have just enough time to inhale whatever they brought with them and hop back up to start clean up.
Once we’re back at the classroom the students have a few minutes of quiet time to let their food settle and then they are on to their letter of the day. They use the smart board to learn about the letter “h” from hairy hat man in Letterland.
Mrs. Lowder and Mrs. Oliver move the kids back to their desks to get to work on their letter worksheets for the day and monitor each child closely to make sure that they stay on track.
After a solid hour of work on letters the kids get to pull out their towels and find their respective floor space for nap time.
Mrs. Lowder pulls out her magic nap wand and gently glides over sleepy, little backs helping them drift off. Once all of the children are asleep the teachers get a 10 to 15 minute window to answer whatever work emails that have stacked up over the day and attend to any paperwork or phone calls to parents that need to be made.
The day is winding down and it’s time for the kids to have their snack and another short playtime before they pack their belongings and head to the media center. Thanks to the warm weather, snack time is outside and the teachers get another breath of fresh air while they make sure everyone eats their snacks safely and gets a fresh squirt of hand sanitizer before hitting the playground one last time.
Finally the kids are rounded up and equipped with their lunch boxes and book bags.
They head to the media center where they are left to Ann Eddens, the media coordinator, who will help them to find a book to take home.
Once the bell rings, Mrs. Lowder and Mrs. Oliver return to line the kids up once more and take them to their buses and wait with them at the door as their rides arrive. Each teacher walks the child to the car as parents pull up and answer questions or provide updates where needed.
Once all the children are safely on their way homes we can all breathe a sigh of relief and know that another successful day of learning has taken place. Mrs. Lowder still has to attend a faculty meeting, and Mrs. Oliver has to rush off to her second job. Soon they’ll both get to go home to their families before they start the process over once again the next day.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.