It’s that time of year again…back to school time. You can tell by the commercials on TV, the sales in department stores, the kids outside relishing the last few moments of summer. But mostly I can tell because a sense of nervous anticipation has settled over me. I have spent that last four weeks preparing for my 25 Kindergarteners, and tomorrow I will find out if it was all enough.
This year I feel as though I am tackling a whole different monster: Five-year-olds instead of 11-year-olds. I feel almost like a first year teacher again going into the year without any experience dealing with the wide-eyed, excited, first-time-in school babies. But, despite it all, I feel ready.
The whole preparation process has had me reminiscing about my own Kindergarten experience (what can I say? The counting bears and “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” really took me back). I have been trying to recall what I was feeling in the first moments of the first day. Mostly I just remember flashes. I remember what I wore (pink spandex biker shorts and a pale blue shirt with flowers). I remember going to my cubby for the first time. I remember being sad that my parents were leaving me. I really don’t remember much about that first day, but I do remember a lot about Kindergarten as a whole. I remember singing “Witches Brew” and having gold nuggets appear on my desk courtesy of a leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day. I remember my mom volunteering in my classroom and eating bologna and cheese sandwiches every day for lunch (to this day I can’t eat a bologna sandwich anymore because I ate so many that year). I remember the Jingle Bell Jog and Jump Rope for Heart. I remember my best friend in my class, Paige. But mostly I remember that I really, really loved my teacher. I remember the Amelia Bedelia book she gave me when the year ended with the note written on the inside cover, and I remember the sense of pride that I felt at being able to read the entire thing cover to cover. I remember that my teacher read really good stories and made me feel welcome and made learning fun. And those are all the things I hope my 25 Kindergarteners remember about their year with me 20 years down the road. I hope the little one I found wandering around the classroom Thursday night at Parent Night looking for a “best friend” finds what she is looking for and remembers that friend for the rest of her life. I hope they all discover a love for learning. I hope when they think back on this year of their lives, they think about the classroom and the books and the games, but most of all, I hope they think back on their experiences as Kindergarteners and know that this was when it all started. That Kindergarten was when their lifetime of learning began.