September 15, 2011 by k. liz
Good evening! I am continuing on with my Lifelong Learner challenge from this post. Tonight is about asking. I decided to do an email interview with a former Kindergarten teacher who has now published a book and is spending her time writing and editing to help other teachers like me! I know I could really use some inspiration from another Kindergarten teacher right now, so I was excited about this interview. Thanks so much, Susan, for doing this with me!
First of all, I’d like to mention Susan’s book on Kindergarten, Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics, Triumphs and Tasty Treats for Teachers and Parents. She has sent me a copy, so you can look forward to a review on this soon! But, don’t wait for that, go and check it out for yourself! And now, my questions and her helpful answers:
What attracted you to become a kindergarten teacher?
It seems like I’ve always been interested in psychology, early childhood and good parenting. I was too shy to become a teacher and graduated with a B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Family and Child Development. I worked in social services. After my premature daughter was born, I wanted to help her through the special education I knew she would need. I went back to school in my forties and earned certification in Special Education. Later I earned certification in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. I have always enjoyed being around young children. My daughter and I work in the church nursery—many don’t want this calling but we love it. We can relate to the little children and love their sweetness.
What was the best thing about teaching kindergarten?
Five and six year olds have unconditional love. They forgive easily and love everyone regardless of any cultural or special needs differences. Children are brutally honest but they can be so funny. They are amazed at the crafts a teacher helps them make. I am always amazed at the amount of learning that takes place during the kindergarten year. Young children absorb so much and are eager to learn. They love their teacher.
What was the most challenging thing about teaching kindergarten?
The energy needed. It can be exhausting teaching young children because you are on your feet most of the day and you cannot be lax in teaching, watching them, and being prepared. Their attention span is so short that you must have many things prepared in advance. Also, it can be challenging to please some parents. A great principal once told me, “You work for the parents. They pay taxes which pay your salary.” I remembered that when an unhappy parent approached me.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new teacher, what would it be?
Always be prepared and enjoy the children.
What do you think is the most important thing for a kindergarten classroom?
Children love science. I had many pets including a tarantula, snake, ant farm, fish, iguana, turtle, crabs and visiting duck, bunny, ferrets, bird and even a horse. We dissected owl pellets and had mealworms (which turned into beetles) and chrysalis (which grew into butterflies). Our school had a garden with rabbits and it was a treat to take a walk through the garden. My class won first place in the Science Fair one year for our worm experiment (exploring which kind of dirt they preferred).
Can you share one of your favorite memories from teaching kindergarten?
I still remember when a little girl realized she was truly reading on her own. Her excitement and the glow in her eyes would be hard to forget.
What do you think is the best way to describe kindergarten teachers in one sentence?
All the kindergarten teachers I have known have been dedicated, truthful, loving, hard-working, supportive and spiritual who enjoy a good laugh.
Susan Case is the author of Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics Triumphs and Tasty Treats for Teachers and Parents. You can visit her blog at: http://kindergartenbasics.blogspot.com/