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First Year, Thirteenth Week: Teaching Edition

Tabitha Helms

Didn't really get around to this last week. I had prepwork out of my ears last weekend. We spent the week getting a head start on our Christmas crafts. We colored nativity scenes, we made gingerbread men, we cut and painted coffee filter snowflakes. The piles of papers on my desk looked like they were going to start sliding in a giant avalanche at any moment. There was no possible way that I was going to be able to finish it all during the week. So Saturday came around and my mom and me spent the afternoon working in my classroom. Thank goodness she was there; we got everything done that needed to get done in those four hours. I never could have done it on my own. We watched Christmas movies while I climbed on tables and chairs to hang snowflakes from the ceiling. We watched figure skating while she glued colored nativity scene characters to toilet paper rolls. The hours spent prepping is unbelievable. But the looks on their little faces when they walked into our room and saw snowflakes hanging from the ceiling was priceless. Their gasps of delight and excitement in pointing out which ones they made made every single minute more than worth it. Yes, teaching is hard, and yes, I could probably make it easier on myself if I picked simpler crafts and didn't put so much time into decorations that just have to be taken down again. But I don't want kindergarten to just be a grade they pass through. I want it to be memorable. I want to create joy and excitement in what we do. I care about these little ones so much that I want to give all I can to make it worthwhile for them.

Last week we started making parent, Christmas gifts. We're doing salt dough ornaments with their handprints in them. I found a salt dough recipe on Pinterest, and planned to make the dough and have it rolled out and ready to go while the kids were at computer class on Friday. Friday afternoon is the only day I don't have parent help in the class. Halfway through the day, I got a note from the office that one of my kids was leaving early. Great. So during lunch I made a portion of the dough; I wasn't supposed to make it ahead of time. It gets hard and dry. I hoped for the best, and had the one student make hers during lunch before she left. During computer class, I attempted to make the rest of the dough. But I accidentally put too much water in it. I had to dump it out and make another batch. I didn't have quite enough salt, so I was in the office, shaking salt from a salt shaker into my dough as I spent the 15 minutes kneading it. Then the aide from the other kindergarten class knocks on the door with my line of students. She had brought the other class up to computers--even though I've specifically asked them not to go to computers early because it cuts short my prep time, and I'm not ready to have my students back yet. They arrived 5 minutes early, and I was still kneading. I still needed to portion out the dough and put one on each students' table, and clean up the flour that I had spilled everywhere. The aide asked if I was ready for them. I said no. She seemed a little taken aback. I said I had 5 more minutes before they were supposed to be back in my class. She asked what I wanted her to do with them. I told her to have them sit against the wall and wait. I could just imagine what would've happened if they came into the classroom and sat on the carpet waiting. Half of them would be wandering around, touching the dough at their tables, asking me a million questions about it that I didn't have time to answer. The boys would be wrestling on the carpet, someone would be tattling, the questions would keep coming, and coming, and coming. Thankfully, the aide kept them outside. I finished in exactly 5 minutes and we made our ornaments. I had a day care aide help me make their handprints. I told them not to do it themselves. They were also told not to touch it after their handprint was in it. But many of them pushed their fingers down in it again after their print was made, so the dough was really thin on their fingers. Some we had to redo. Some I had to squish extra dough on top of the holes. Oh well, it's their own fault for not following directions. That night I brought them home, trimmed them, poked a hole in it for the ribbon to hang it, and baked them. Some of them cracked a little and don't look very good. But most of them turned out nicely. My fear is that when I send them home with the kids, all wrapped up, they'll be bashed up in their backpacks and end up broken. I'll just hope for the best.

We had our first lockdown drill. Ever since we had that rain, my door hasn't been shutting all the way. So guess whose door opened when the PE coach came to check all the doors? Yeah, great. I told them in the office that I knew that was going to happen. Sometimes my door shuts, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I can throw my whole weight against it or pull it with enough force to shut it, but it's kinda painful. I just know I"m going to throw my back out if I have to keep doing that. I didn't get in trouble or anything. Maintenance came that afternoon and hammered and drilled my door frame. It still doesn't always shut. It's better now than it was though.

We had a staff meeting on Tuesday. I actually remembered about this one, and was a little early. At our staff meeting, everyone (almost everyone) decided that it was a grand idea to have our secret santa reveal/staff Christmas party at Coco's. For breakfast. On Thursday. Before school. What?!?! Oh my gosh, I wanted to kill myself. I looked wide-eyed at every teacher in there. You all seriously think this is a good idea? To wake up earlier than usual, not have prep time, and eat food at 6:45 in the morning? And it's not even on FRIDAY???? Yeah, sooooo not happening. But of course, I'm the new teacher. I don't get to speak my mind. I have to walk on eggshells and do what everyone else wants to do. I told the secretary when she told me to put down my order of what I want for breakfast that day that I was going to be late to this party. I have anxiety in the morning. That's why I get ready for my entire day the night before. That's why I took off a half hour of my morning routine so that I could sleep more. I'm 10x more likely to be anxious when I'm tired. I'm not a morning person. I don't function well in the morning. The morning hours are when I get my best sleep. To be torn from that....well, it's not pretty. I can wake up early and feel like puking through the whole party. Or, I can wake up when I usually do and be 15 minutes late to the party and feel fine. Hmmm. Late, it is. I don't eat in the morning anyway. I ordered tea and a muffin. I would have been happy about that, but we just had a whole lesson last week about how it's necessary to eat protein in the morning. So I ordered some turkey sausage too. We'll see if I can manage to eat it. I have a feeling, I'll just want to put my head down on the table and close my eyes. Who's in the mood to party at 7am? I mean, really.

Here's another you know you're a teacher when for you: (compliments to my mother on this one) You know you're a teacher when instead of collecting souvenir spoons or teapots, you collect toilet paper rolls and egg cartons.

Yeah, had those coming out of my ears last week. I also succeeded in slicing my hand open while trying to cut said toilet paper rolls. Yeah, that was fun. Had to superglue my hand back together and finish grading papers.

So is the life of a teacher.