Yesterday I had the privilege of being both a preschool aid and a college English teacher. In the morning, I subbed for Addie's preschool class for the second time this week. When I signed on to do this a few weeks ago, I didn't know what to expect. I mean...teaching 4-year-olds is very different from teaching 18 and 19-year-olds.
The answer is yes...and no.
One of the major differences I noticed right away was the level of energy these kids had. So eager and excited to be there. So curious and ready to learn. No one was on their cell phone, or falling asleep, or checking Facebook, or rolling their eyes at you. They were genuinely happy to be there.
One by one they all came into the room and looked around for their teachers so they could give them a big hug. I was new to them and I still received about 500 hugs this week. In addition to loving school...the kids also love their teachers. And in return, their teachers love them too. There is a very strong emotional bond at this age. The kids have 100% faith and trust in what their teachers say and do. They think everything they tell them is true and totally exciting. They smile and laugh (and sometimes scream) about everything and to my utter surprise...they also listen!
For the most part anyway :-)
They say their prayers when told, clean up when told, trace on the lines when told, and walk in a straight line when told. "Hips and Lips" they say, over and over again (which means to put one finger by your lips to keep quiet and your other hand on your hip to keep from touching your neighbor). Ha! It is just incredible to watch, especially when you see your child doing all of these things too. You know...the child who does NOT always do these things at home :-)
I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have so much fun playing a preschool teacher aid for the week. I never though I would be good at it or have the patience for it. I have always said that college is my age group. I know how to handle that age and how to teach that age. But there is just something so special about these little ones. I know that the job of a preschool teacher is hard. Very VERY hard. And not every day is sunshine and rainbows. Not every day is time-out or meltdown free. Sometimes you have to break up fights. Sometimes you have to wipe someone's little butt. Sometimes you have to clean up puke. Sometimes you have to tie the same shoe 84 times. You get the idea. I am not sure that I was built to teach preschool as a career, but I certainly enjoyed my time. I felt loved and appreciated by the kids and that is just not something you always feel in college.
And speaking of college...
So after a 3-hour morning at preschool, I came home and took care of my two little crazies who were bursting with energy. By 5:00 I was BEAT. Like...completely drained. But it was go time for me. I had to put on my teacher pants and head to campus because I had 19 other students waiting on me. I laughed a few times on my way to class thinking about how my students would react if I made them raise their hand to go "potty" or made them all sit on a letter on the circle rug.
When I got to class, my students looked tired. And bored. I guess I can't blame them. English isn't always exciting. I was suddenly missing all those bright little smiles I saw that morning. I was missing all the energy and eagerness to learn.
So when I saw a group of students giggling behind a computer screen together during lab time, I figured they were watching some stupid video on YouTube and I was ready to put on my bitch face. They were suppose to be doing a collaborative assignment and here they were, not paying attention. When I walked up behind them, I noticed they were on website reading about William Faulkner (we just got done reading one of his short stories a few weeks ago). I just looked at them puzzled and then one student said,
"Sorry. We were all just reading this article about Faulkner. Did you know that he used to write his notes on the wall of his office so that he could visualize his stories better. Wouldn't it be awesome if all English students were able to write their notes on the wall of the classroom so that we could like...compare and contrast them?"
Were these kids seriously sitting back there looking up information about an author and discussing better ways to discuss literary topics? Without being told? Were they showing a genuine interest in what I had been trying to teach them?
It took everything I had to resist the urge to hug all three of them. I mean it's one thing to have a student tell you that you are a good teacher. That feels wonderful all by itself. But seeing them actually learn something from you and go on to be better writers because of you is an even better compliment. Maybe the best compliment ever. Sure, they aren't bouncing off walls and screaming "I LOVE YOU MRS. DAVIS" like the preschool kids, and frankly I would be a little concerned if they were, but the fact that they are listening and showing some enthusiasm is enough for me. They asked me if I was teaching 102 next semester because they all really wanted to take a class with me again and that just made me feel awesome. I felt loved and appreciated. For the second time that day.
I went home from class last night feeling pretty damn good. I know not every day as a teacher feels this good. In fact, if you remember my posts from last semester, you know that not every semester is this good either. It's freaking HARD being a teacher. But I truly believe that it is one of the most rewarding jobs out there. And damn it...it's a job I'm lucky to have :-)
Now...I want all of you to remind me of this post the next time I have a bad teacher moment. Or...Ryan Gossling can do it.
Happy Weekend everyone!