I am linking up again with Monica from I Heart Grade 3 for her amazing summer weekly link up! This week is all about an accomplishment you are proud of!
I really had to sit down and think about this week's topic. There are plenty of things I have done that I'm proud of, and I also know that I have plenty of time to accomplish lots more!
I think, to date, the accomplishment that I am most proud of would have to be my grade-level change. For those of you who may not know, I am finishing up my tenth year of teaching. Sometimes I can't believe it's been ten years already, other times I feel like it's been so much longer!!
I began my teaching career as a pre-kindergarten teacher, and I LOVED it!! The kiddos were so very happy to come to school every day, and I was a half day teacher so I taught the same lessons twice a day. After my first year in pre-k I was bumped up to fourth grade. Can you say gulp?? Holey Moley, what an incredible jump that was!! I went from circle time songs to differentiated guided reading lessons using chapter books. Eeek!! To say I struggled that first year in fourth would be an understatement!! But I was lucky enough to have an AMAZING teaching partner who was an old pro and definitely helped me stay sane. She always had my back and shared EVERYTHING!! When I was in pre-k I had no team mates, so it was great to finally have someone to share ideas with! I spent a wonderful five years in fourth grade with my amazing teaching partner, and I learned so much. However, I always felt there was something missing and I couldn't figure out what. After five years in fourth grade, our school staff went through a big change where most were put into new grade levels, and I was going to kindergarten. I was floored!! Not only was I moving to a brand new grade, but I was leaving my amazing team mate. She was moving up to fifth, while I was returning to early childhood. My closest friends were waiting for me in the lobby after I got my news, and they were so supportive. Lots of hugs and tears, but they all assured me that this move was a good one and that I would totally rock it in kindergarten!
I wasn't sure, at all, about the rocking it in kindergarten part. I only knew that I was leaving a grade level I had grown comfortable with and a team mate that I absolutely loved. I knew I was returning to the land of runny noses and untied shoes, and that I was going from kids who could (mostly) read everything I wrote on the board to kids who could not yet recognize their names. I was oh so very worried that I wasn't going to be an effective kindergarten teacher, that I had spent too long with the older kids and the littles would neither appreciate nor understand my dry wit, and that I would not be able to help the kinders make the growth they needed. I knew how to teach long divsion and identifying literary elements, but it had been so very many years since I taught kiddos how to recognize letters by name and sound. I was so worried that I wasn't going to be effective, and that was the scariest and most stressful part of the change for me!
It was the last day of 'teacher school' (we go three days after the students are done for the year). I cleaned and purged my fourth grade room, leaving many things for the teacher who would take my place and giving the rest to my team mate who was moving to fifth grade. Everything else that was mine got boxed up and labeled for the move 'upstairs'. In our school the early childhood classrooms are on the main hall, while the rest of the classrooms are down the stairs and branch out left and right. I had some AMAZING paraeducators help me move my stuff from fourth grade to my new kindergarten room.
I went from having groups of desks to using blue kidney and trapezoid tables. I went from having quiet reading time to organizing and implementing learning and play centers. My team mate even had to request that the SMART Boards in the rooms be lowered, because it was just way too high for littles to reach without standing on something. After moving all my stuff into the room, I turned in my keys and started my summer.
In between spending time with family and relaxing, I began racking my brain for the best way to teach kindergarten. I read all sorts of books and began following all sorts of blogs. My first year as a kindergarten teacher started, and I stayed sane by following along with what my new team mates had already done for years. With some bumps, bruises, and migraines along the way I made it through my first year in kindergarten. I was lucky enough to team up with my team mate from last year and have her kiddos become my class's 5th Grade Buddies (and we have every year since). That summer I decided to embrace early childhood even more. I became a member of TPT and created my own blog. This blog helped me to develop a theme for my classroom. I grew even more comfortable with the idea of teaching early childhood, especially kindergarten!
Now I have finished up year five as a kindergarten teacher, and I honestly cannot think of anywhere else I'd rather be. I LOVE all things kindergarten! I love the interest and enthusiasm for learning, love, and life that kinders have! I love how they're so happy to see me every day, and how they worry when I don't show up. I love that they still have such a huge desire to learn about themselves and the world around them. I love that they are uber impressed with whatever I do, no matter how scraggly looking my stick figure drawings are! I love that they love me, without question and without holding back. Honestly, I just love all things kindergarten. I really, really, really hope to be able to spend the rest of my teaching career in kindergarten. I feel like I have found my niche and this is where I belong. There's just something about those eagerly curious little faces who absorb the world around them like a little sponge! I love being a kindergarten teacher, and I wouldn't want it any other way. As a kindergarten teacher I feel that I am able to utilize my creativity and imagination so much more, and I no longer feel as if something is missing. So the accomplishment I'm most proud of? Becoming a kindergarten teacher and embracing it to the fullest!
I invite you to head back over to I Heart Grade 3 and read about all of the other amazing accomplishments out there! Link up so I can read about yours, too!!
P.S. - Don't forget that you can still link up for Spotlight Saturday! Come on over and showcase a product or resource and tell us all about it!