A few months ago, Sandra Woitas found me at an event we were both attending and asked if I’d be interested in helping with a video the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation was working on. I said sure, and asked what it entailed. Teaching kindergarten for an afternoon, was her response. I started to explain that I’m really not the best person for the job and that there must be someone else, but Sandra was having none of it. I was going to teach kindergarten!
We found a time that worked, and in mid-April I was set to spend an afternoon with the kindergarten class at Lauderdale School. “This is really going to happen,” I thought, and that was both exciting and scary! I called my Mom, a former preschool teacher and now an SLPA, to get her advice. She was encouraging as mothers tend to be, and advised me to have fun with the experience. A few days before I was scheduled to make my teaching debut, Terry Odegard, the Kindergarten Teacher at Lauderdale, sent me the lesson plan. We would be doing attendance, having a movement break, talking about the calendar (what date is it), playing at centres, taking a break for recess, and then reading a story. It would be a full afternoon with the bean sprouts as Sandra likes to call them!
Finally the day arrived. The feeling I had as I drove to Lauderdale School was not unlike that feeling you get when you’re about to write an exam and you know that you haven’t studied enough and you’re probably not going to do very well. What if the kids didn’t like me? What if I did something horribly wrong and ruined a child for life?! These are the irrational questions I considered.
Sandra met me at the school with coffee, which was really thoughtful and helped put me at ease. I met some of the other teachers in the staff room and then got setup in the classroom while the kids were outside. The camera guys had already done this a few times, so it was business-as-usual for them. I took a few minutes to familiarize myself with the classroom, and then the kids started filing back inside and I greeted them at the door. No turning back now!
The rest of the afternoon was a lot of fun. As you might expect, my fears were completely unwarranted. I couldn’t have messed up even if I wanted to – the kids know the schedule and were quick to point out what we should be doing next. I only used the noise rattle a few times – I was instructed to shake it as a quiet signal when I needed everyone to pay attention. During centres I looked after the painting table, and because the kids had been to the Valley Zoo recently and met the seals who painted with a paint brush in their mouths, we did that too. Hands behind your back and hold the paint brush in your teeth! That was fun, and yes paint got everywhere. During recess, I stayed inside to do a quick interview with the camera crew. Lots of people are uneasy about being on camera, but that seemed like the easiest part of the afternoon to me! The kids came back in from recess, I read a story with them, and then I was on my way. The afternoon really flew by.
Here’s the video that was produced (you can see me in action toward the end):
I ended up having a lot of fun that afternoon, and I definitely came away with much greater respect for kindergarten teachers and the important role that they play in a child’s development and growth. I’m certain I don’t have the patience to do what they do every day! I’m also thankful for the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation and the work that it does.
The Foundation was launched February 10, 2010, for two main purposes: to spread the word about the great things happening in the public education system and to support Edmonton Public Schools across Edmonton. We do this by offering opportunities for improved learning through financial, in-kind and human resource contributions.
Full-Day Kindergarten is one of the programs they support. The provincial government funds half-day kindergarten, but research tells us that children who attend full-day kindergarten are better equipped for success in future grades. We had a lot of discussion about that on EPCOR’s Community Essentials Council recently, but ultimately we decided to support the Full-Day Kindergarten program at Mee-Yah-Noh School (as we did in 2011).
Thanks again to Sandra, Terry, and everyone else at Lauderdale and EPSF for the opportunity!
You can learn more about the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation here. If you’d like to make a donation or otherwise get involved, you can do that here.