I blogged about initial and end of the year assessments yesterday. Today I would like to blog about what I feel is just as important if not more so when it comes to kindergarten readiness. When I taught in the public schools, my big concern when school started was whether each child walking through my door would have the self-control to learn how to control their impulses.
About ten years ago, I got a new student after labor day. I had recently had a bunionectomy and had just had my cast removed. I was wearing a soft shoe to protect that foot but I hobbled over to welcome my new charge. He had not been in the room more than a second when he started screaming at the top of his lungs and ran for the door. I went out after him and took his arm. He turned around and dug his hard soled shoe into the foot that had recently been operated on. The pain literally blindsided me and I released him. The Principal gave chase and finally caught him and brought him to the office kicking and screaming. Over the next few months, he threw tables, hit children, kicked me, and was basically out of control. This is the behavior in the public schools that I do not miss. I ended up having to go back in for more surgery because the marrow got infected where the child broke the bones in the top of my foot. I spent the remainder of the school year in a knee high cast because my foot wouldn't heal properly. This child simply did not have the capability to control his impulses. If he had to follow through on a difficult task, he would get frustrated and lose control. He was eventually taken out of my classroom and placed in a residential setting.
Two years later, during the first day of school, I heard a child yell "Hi, Mrs. B!" I turned around and probably looked like I had just stuck my finger in an electric socket. I wouldn't be surprised if my hair stood up on top of my head when I saw him running toward me. Can you picture me standing there going "Ackkkkkk!" in fear? My first impulse was to run in the other direction. He ran up gave me a big hug and definitely did not act like the child I had known two years earlier.
He was placed in a smaller class setting that year and did well. He even told another teacher that he had not been nice to Mrs. B when he was in kindergarten but he didn't know why. I am glad that the child is doing better now but what about the year I had him in kindergarten? I had to spend so much time trying to keep him from hurting the other 25 children and me that I know I wasn't as effective as I could have been. How fair was that to my other students for the six months he spent with us? How many teachers have to deal with this kind of behavior in some schools on a daily basis?
Every morning that I drive to the private Christian school I now work in, I say a silent prayer of thanks. My students have the self-control to listen to me give directions for more than a few minutes. I haven't had a child who was out of control or a discipline problem since I started there three years ago. Would I ever go back to the public schools? No! I feel so fortunate now to be able to do what I was trained to do. I get to spend all of my time teaching!