Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for our Youth.

I took this photo this past Friday and I love it to bits!  Here's the story behind the photo.

The children in this photo are SKs or, Senior kindergarten students.  In Ontario, our Kindergarten programme runs for two years; Junior Kindgarten is for children aged 3-4 and Senior Kindergarten is for students aged 4-5 years of age.  After graduating from Kindergarten, the students are placed in Grade 1, with some of them ending up on my class list for the upcoming school year.

As the school year reaches the third and final term, it has been my past practise to begin to incorporate the SKs into my programming, at least for a little bit of the time each week.  In that way, I get to learn a little about the students who will form my world soon and they will get a chance to see their new classroom so that there are few, if any, fears and anxieties over the summer holidays about what awaits them in the Fall.  With that in mind, at the beginning of April, I began taking the SKs with me to the computer lab every day for twenty minutes at the end of the day. My own students have Music at that time or else, they are with me in the Lab anyway. So, one way or the other, it made sense to slide the Kindergarten children in then.

For the first few weeks, the SKs simply came to the lab and listened to e-books on the computer.  The early goal was to ensure they could all log-in independently and access the programming they needed to use and then, shut the computer off properly at the end of their session.  They were very happy to be invited in with us and quickly demonstrated a mastery of the simple goals I had set. They were very happy to come and hang out with me and my students because it made them feel like they were growing up and becoming "big kids".

Well, on Thursday and Friday, the Music teacher needed the computer lab at the end of the day to help prepare the students for their participation in an event called Music Monday. So, the SKs and I had to find other accommodations.  Those other accommodations turned out to be my own classroom.  Thus, if you look back up at the photo at the top of this post, you will see a snippet of what my classroom looks like.  After talking about it so much throughout the course of the A-to-Z Challenge, I felt it was good to finally provide a visual to go along with all of my descriptive words.

As for the SKs, being inside of my classroom was what they really had wanted to do all along, as it turns out.  They were soooooo thrilled to sit at my student's desks, with their tiny legs dangling, doing the work of the big kids that they are so close to becoming.  In this photo, they are using small computer netbooks to access their e-books but, that is not so important at this moment.  At this moment, these small children are transforming inside their minds.  Their perception of who they are and how they fit into the social hierarchy of the school was changing.

When it was time for them to line up and return to their own Kindergarten class, I said to them, "Do you know who you remind me of right now?"
They smiled and looked up, "No, who", said one of the girls.
"You look like big kids, like Grade 1s!  You look like you are ready."
Each one of them straightened up and stood taller. As we walked back down the hallway, they walked with a more confident stride; dare I say, almost a slight swagger. As they re-entered their own classroom, the kids who were still there, the Junior Kindergarten students, seemed young and small. A metamorphosis had happened. They all looked beautiful. All of them ready to fly.

It is nice to be involved in those tiny yet, big moments in the lives of children.  I am especially happy to share moments like that with the youngest learners in our school because, by virtue of their youth and the relatively early stages of their intellectual development, they are not always regarded with the same respect as students in Grade 1 and up.  Many people; especially those outside of the school community, view Kindergarten as child's play, with the real work of school beginning once they enter Grade 1.  Nothing could be further from the truth, as I wrote about in Post "K", regarding the amazing work that Kindergarten teachers, parents and students do during the first moments of their school careers.

Being a teacher is filled with important, well-planned out moments. It is, also, filled out with incidental moments that turn out brilliantly beyond any expectations.  Being able to watch my "Kindergarten pals", as I call them, grow up before my eyes, was a warm, fuzzy time and was a wonderful way to end my week and, for all intent and purposes, end this A-to-Z Challenge.

As I type the final words on this post, I am actually typing my final words for the entire A-to-Z Challenge!  Waaaaaay back at the beginning of this month, when the muse formed fully and I went into that zone that all writers know about, several of these posts popped, almost fully-formed, into my mind. Post "Z" was one such post and, as a result, "Z" has been complete for some time now. This means that these words that you are reading, right here and now, are my final Challenge words that I will type.

So, I just want to take a moment and acknowledge what a wonderful experience this has been.  I am very grateful to the organizers of this Challenge for providing me with the opportunity to write....A LOT!!!!   I have always been someone who was more of a dabbler when it came to writing; writing a story here, entering a challenge or two, there but, never living, what we would call the writing life.   But, through this Challenge, I got to test myself to see whether or not I had the stamina to write almost every day and, as well, did I actually have enough words inside of me to warrant writing every day.  Turns out that I did on both counts. For giving me the structure, via this Challenge, to help me discover that I may, indeed, have what it takes to be a real writer well, I am indebted, to say the least. Thank you very much.

As well, I also want to thank those loyal readers and commenters who joined me throughout this journey.  I have met some wonderful new friends and have had the pleasure of discovering some very talented, intelligent writers, as well.  What a lovely bonus.  Thanks to all of you for your support and for the confidence you have shown in my abilities.  I appreciate it a lot.

Finally, I grew up wanting to be a writer but, instead, became a teacher. Now, I am writing about teaching; my worlds have merged and I feel wonderful about it.  I am blessed to be able to write about something as important as the lives of children.  They are such beautiful people and being with them every day is an honour and a privilege.  If the act of telling their stories is what I was meant to be doing with my life then, I am happy to go where Destiny is taking me.

Thanks, again, everyone.  "Z" is ready to go for tomorrow.  Thanks for everything. This has been fun! :)

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