Half of the students I have now were the graduates of my last Kindergarten class. All month I have been wondering, "Did you guys learn anything? Why was I stressing out day in and day out, worrying if you are reading up to your potential, understanding number sense, and most importantly falling in love with school and learning, when you remember nothing about the whole year?" I realized this when they didn't remember penguins will never meet Santa or polar bears because they live in the South Pole, something we studied for a month. They had NO idea who Johnny Appleseed was- something we did a unit on for a whole five weeks! They didn't remember it is easier to swim in the ocean than a lake because of the salt water, or if you drop a play-dough ball in the water it'll sink like a rock, but if you spread it flat like a raft, it'll float. They don't remember our student teacher, Mr. Ganab, who was with us for eight weeks and is now Noah's teacher. When I recently told my class if Hawaii had a better school system, I'd pack my bags and live there, a boy (who was in my class) said, "My kindergarten teacher went to Hawaii..." Hellllooo!! That was me!! Don't I look vaguely familiar? Doesn't the NAME at least ring a bell?
That year was my most trying year as a teacher, and these kids didn't remember or appreciate all of the hard work I put into them. However, this week, I have learned they remember my birthday is the same day as Mason's because I baked a cake for snack, and let him blow out the candles. They remembered how I tried to convince them there was a swimming pool in the third floor teacher's lounge, as well as I tried to tell them I forgot how to subtract and they'd have to teach me. - One kid even went home and told his mom he was worried I'd get fired because I forgot how to subtract. (Do you also find it disturbing they vividly remembered the times I tried to lie to them?) They remembered that I called Andy, Andy Panda, Tate, Tator tot, and Kelly, Kelly Bo Belly. They remembered I loved to read to them, and my favorite books were The True Story of The Three Little Pigs By, A. Wolf, and SkippyJon Jones. They remembered the time I was hanging something up on the wall during center time, and I jumped down from the chair, everyone turned to look at me, so I raised my arms and said, "TA-DA!!" They remember the ficken' worm in the sink that would never go away. They remembered that I hung orange and black streamers from the ceiling for Halloween, and their teacher stood on a volcano, on a black sand beach and swam along a coral reef all in one day. They didn't remember the lessons, objectives, or standards I tried to teach them, but they remembered how I was. That is really humbling. As a teacher, we focus so much on standards, and "are the kids learning enough? How can I re-teach that objective without boring the ones who got it while dumbing it down to reach the ones who didn't?" That's not what they remember. They remember how I acted with them, things I did that were special. That was the last year I decorated my room for any Holiday because I thought the kids don't care, or even notice, but I think I will this year. I need to back up. Tell them they are a great class, read to them more, and do special things. Then maybe they'll believe me next month when I tell them I forgot how to multiply and I need them to teach me.