Home Sweet Classroom: Pre-K Edition

I feel like I’ve been all over the place emotionally this week. Things have changed dramatically, and it has been a huge shift in thinking and preparation. Almost a week later, and I’m still pretty overwhelmed, but I’m slowly adjusting to the change. It’ll be a process.

This past year I taught 3rd grade. I loved it! I loved my kids. I loved the content. I was told by my supervisor that I would be teaching third grade again, so I started making purchases and preparations for another year in third grade. I was buying things that I could have used but didn’t have.

Last month I was told by my principal that I would be moving to 4th and 5th grade science and social studies + Response to Intervention (RTI). I started making preparations for that. I even moved most of my stuff to my new room and started organizing and hanging stuff of the walls. I also bought a bunch of books to use to teach these subjects. I was so excited because I LOVE Texas and US History! I was also going to teach my students again. Most of the parents knew, and they were excited (along with their kiddos). I was also super excited because I was going to be on a team with one of my good friends. We were going to be the “dream team.”

Last Wednesday I woke up to a text that was sent by my principal at 6:30am. I never receive texts from him so it felt pretty important. He said that he needed to meet with me that day. I asked what it was in regards to, and he said it was about staffing changes. My heart sank.

I knew that the person who was moved to pre-k had resigned so I had a feeling it was going to be about that. I tried not to overthink, but I was shaky knowing that’s what was going to happen. I asked God to give me peace no matter what happens. When I got into my car, the podcast that I was listening to popped on and the first thing I heart was “don’t put the car before the horse.” For some reason, that made me feel more at peace.

When I got to the school, he could tell that I was nervous and could understand why. He knew that I loved my team a lot, and that I was excited about my new position. But. With this loss of a staff member, we had a hole in our staffing. Unfortunately, where we are, it’s super hard to get qualified applicants. For a long time, they would hire teachers who weren’t certified because of this. They hired them on the basis that they had to get their certificate with-in the year. Unfortunately, this wasn’t followed up on and many teachers weren’t certified. The new superintendent required it to return this year; therefore, we lost some teachers, and it’s hard to get new ones. We are now short staffed. I do think quality over quantity is important, so we will make do. We just have to be more flexible.

There are only two teachers in the elementary that are certified in early childhood. The other teacher was willing to move to pre-k, but she has never taught it and didn’t feel super comfortable. I actually have a background in early childhood. My mom was the center director of a Head Start for 10 years, I took an Early Childhood Professions class for two years in high school, and most of my education at Texas State was towards early childhood. I have also taught pre-k. So, I told him I would do it. I told him that I would prefer to stay where I am, but I know that’s not an option, so I will do what needs to be done. He was incredibly gracious and understanding. He thanked me many times for being a “team player” and said that that’s what our school needs right now. I told him that I actually LOVED pre-k when I taught it, but it has been about 9 years. It will take some time to adjust. He understood completely, and is patient as I work on adjusting.

I’m still sort of grieving the loss of the 4th and 5th grade position. It is a HUGE shift in thought and prep, and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the stuff that I have to go through in my new classroom. There are a lot of supplies/resources, but it’s not super organized.

It’s going to take a while to get used to working with littles again. They have so many more needs than the big kids. They require more energy. There is more prep involved because of centers, etc. But I’m getting there.

I decided to dig deep and remember why pre-k was my favorite year of teaching (before this past year). I actually love creative things, sensory activities, hands-on activities, pretend play, arts and crafts, etc. When I taught before, I made our dramatic play area into so many fun things like a fire truck, farm, and a kitchen making Christmas cookies with gingerbread and sugar cookie playdough. I made all kinds of sensory boxes with colored rice and oobleck, we did a lot of fun art activities, and we sang a lot of songs. It was fun because the pressure was off. There’s no testing, and we get to focus on the basics. In pre-k, learning is done through play.

So, my goal is to focus on the things that I love about pre-k and move on past the things that I’m sad about. I can’t change anything. It is what it is, so might as well make the best of it.

I believe that God has put me with the littles for a reason, and I’m trusting that God will provide for my needs with this.

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