On Monday I interviewed for the job in aftercare at La Paloma I nailed it it at the interview and was offered a job on the spot as an aftercare worker and as a kinder teacher. Unfortunately kindergarten teachers have to be on the floor with the kids a lot, and any teacher should know to get down on the kids level when talking with them. When I teach 5 year olds, that's just too hard. I had to turn it down which made me sad, but I like knowing I was wanted.
I'm not as sure I am now. My first day was not good. I thought I had planned well, but there were so many things I hadn't counted on. And to be fair, these kids are tough! Tough kids are my favorite, even now, but I realized for the first time I've never been a lead teacher before. I've been taught how to set up the class, but last year I watched Michele do it. I didn't do it. Now I see myself making many first year teacher mistakes I was told not to make. I just keep telling myself it's okay not to be perfect. I was foolish to think I wouldn't struggle like this. I'm learning. I just keep telling myself I'm learning. That's okay. Wednesday was a disaster. I didn't get the schedule and my plans turned out to be insufficient to entertain the kids for 6 hours (gotta love the half day). I had them make paper airplanes but it got out of hand. That was my bad. I felt like I spent all day yelling at the kids. I ended up needing to apologize a lot. I'm just me, I have nothing else to give these kids. I have to trust that Heavenly Father can make me enough. In teacher school we were told that any teacher worth anything at all goes home each day and thinks "what will I do better tomorrow?" Well right now I have a long list, but I'm working on it.
Thursday I had so many kids in my classroom. I finally ended up with an aide for just the one day, and that was amazing. She had good management and showed me a trick. When you want the kids to stay quiet, dim the lights and leave them dimmed as long as the quiet is supposed to last. It worked miracles. In the end, Thursday turned out good. Friday I was going to get there early to make copies of worksheets. I can't expect the kids to be quiet for an hour if I give them nothing to do. Technically they are supposed to be doing homework, but they don't have enough to last the hour. Most of the kids do it in class anyway. Well I got there a half hour early by my calculation, and it turned out that I was 15 minutes late for a staff meeting I didn't know about. So I showed up late to the meeting and I didn't make any copies. When quiet hour came I had to talk them through about 50 minutes of it. That was hard, but together we managed.
The teacher whose room I use asked me on Friday to be more careful about not letting the kids get into desks and materials. She also said that she was really happy the kids had me. She said most of the aftercare teachers just stood there and barked at the kids for all those hours, but I have management systems and I focus on positives and use values education. That made me feel good. Maybe I'm not doing as awful as I feel I am.
What made me so sure I was doing better on Thursday and Friday was that I had so many positive things to say to the kids. Even when they misbehaved, they knew they needed a consequence and accepted it without complaint. They all have this amazing light in their eyes. They all have these smiles that I think could melt stone. I have about 33 kids and each and every one of them is different. They have different needs and different coping strategies. It is so exciting to see into each heart. I'm still humbled that these children let me in. When I see them light up, I know I'm one of the luckiest people on earth.