Editor’s note: Once again our friend Wendy Lang of Decatur, a former teacher and now Alabama Education Association uniserv director, shares her thoughts with us. This time she recalls many years ago when she began teaching kindergarten in a rural school. As usual, she will bring a smile to your face and no doubt cause many of our educator readers to recall their own similar stories.
“I remember my first day of teaching kindergarten. My college degree did not at all prepare me for the classroom. With no class limits, I had 32 five year olds who had never been away from home and their parents cried like they were leaving them with an axe murderer. What could happen? After all, this was kindergarten.
I thought I was prepared by having three months of lesson plans ready, but they completed all three months by 8:15. And the day went downhill from there. Having nothing to do and being absolutely clueless, I ushered them to the playground and no sooner had we walked out the door, I had a runner. I chased him over a mile down the county road to his granddaddy’s chicken house, slung him over my shoulder and walked back to the playground where I noticed I had left 31 students unattended. I decided we needed to go back in the classroom and lock the door and pray for divine guidance.
Soon thereafter, I had a knock at the door. Our principal asked if I would be taking them to the lunchroom any time soon. Not only were we late for lunch, but I had failed to send in a lunch count. Apparently I thought “feed them and they will come and come whenever you’re ready!.” Lunch took about 2 1/2 hours because it takes time to do the necessary things for a successful kindergarten lunch: 32 squirts of ketchup, opening 32 milk cartons and saying 4911 times “Don’t eat the cookie. It’s dessert. It comes last!” By the way, they were five. They gobbled that cookie down first!
By the time we returned to the classroom (that had once been a storage closet), I was give out. Spotting the stack of red and blue rest mats, I had the bright idea that we should have nap time. I was the only one that went to sleep and I woke up with a new and different hairdo. My stylist had been replaced by 32 children with brand new rounded tip safety scissors.
By this time I will be the first to admit, I was ready to go home. I asked for those who rode the bus to raise their hands. Thirty two hands went up in the air. I asked who would be picked up b a parent. Again, 32 hands went up. I asked who didn’t know how they were getting home and they all raised their hands once again. My bright idea was to take them out and if their parents were there, I would hand them over. If they weren’t there I would load them on the only bus in front of the school. Following my plan of action, once they were all handed off, I got in my car and went home.
The first phone call was from the bus driver who informed me that they were one of about 11 buses that served the school and that from my classroom, only two rode the bus I had placed 19 students on and left. But out of the goodness of her heart, she made sure they got home safe and sound. I was also told that I better not ever let that happen again.
The next phone call was from the principal. He asked if I would be returning the next day and I asked him if I could let him know by morning.
Once my oldest started kindergarten I leaned first hand that the tears had nothing to do with my thoughts about the teacher, but it had everything to do with my precious first born leaving the nest. And the nano second given for dropping kindergarteners off in the classroom wasn’t enough time to make his teacher aware of everything I needed her to know.
My boys are grown men now, but regardless of their age, we will always worry wherever they go and as a forever parent we will always have something to say and advice to give on how they should be treated.
Other parents have advice for teachers this new school year. John Brandon was my sixth grade teacher. He is a parent and a grandparent. He loves his grandson and offers this sage advice; “Teach each child like you normally would. Call if you need to,” Reta Waldrop wants teachers to be reminded that children are behind in their studies, Have patience and know that prayers are sent up for you daily.
Jan Byrd advises that everyone watch Beyond the Blackboard on Amazon and then be more thankful than ever to work in your school system. She also offers best wishes and blessings to all who touch our students lives this school year.
Angelia Foust would advise that teachers pray, imagine and sanitize. Becky Howard offers that there’s always a Plan B, Plan C, Plan D….
Pat Woller advises that everyone must learn to adjust to our new normal whatever that might be. Wimbreth Howard and Douglas Ann Livingston advise prayer and Kyla Jo Gray adds Lysol to the list.
John Griffith’s first response would be “Tag….you’re it!” But he states that seriously, his advice to teachers and to parents would be that “grace and understanding extended by either side will go a long way.”