It took me seventeen years to have a child and our daughter was one loved little baby. One day, as I was driving down a main road in our suburb, a car full of teenagers started beeping at me. I pretended not to notice and kept driving. They kept honking and waving so when we stopped at the light, I was ready for them! I rolled down my window and said in a very stern voice "Don't you have anything better to do than to harrass a Mother and her baby?" The young man at the wheel responded "Mrs. B, it's me J...., do you remember me from kindergarten? I just wanted to say hi!" As I slid down in my seat, I meekly responded "Hi." Oops!

The 100th day of school in Kindergarten is a big deal. We make t-shirts, make a booklet, make necklaces, and even make a headband. Every activity revolves around the theme of one hundred.

I was helping one child compose sentences in his booklet entitled One Hundred. At the top of one page, it says "In one hundred years I will be...........!" The child has to write in the answer. When I asked this little boy the question, he looked up at me with his big blue eyes and answered without hesitation "Dead! I'll be dead!"

One particularly fun craft to make in March is to have the children trace their hand on black construction paper, cut it out, glue cotton balls on the palm of the hand, and add squiggly eyes to make a sheep. The thumb becomes the head and the fingers serve as legs.

I remember one center group busily working on this craft one year when one little boy looked over at the child beside him and declared in disgust "Man, this is some UGLY dog!" My suggestion to all you kindergarten teachers out there would be to repeatedly remind the children of what they are making.

Chicos has a great line of pants for teachers like me who are rushing to get dressed every morning. They make no iron stretch pull-on elastic waist slacks in their traveler line. I have only had one issue with them and it wasn't due to the manufacturer.

One morning as my Kindergarten class was moving down the hall for a school wide assembly, one little boy kept trying to get my attention. I was talking with the male Assistant Principal at the time and told him that I would be right with him. I also reminded him that it was not polite to interrupt a conversation. He was determined to get my attention though. The third time he called my name, he yanked on my pants and voila....half the school got a peek at my underwear. Did I mention that the child was strong? As I frantically pulled my pants back up, I noticed the Assistant Principal's face had gone as crimson as mine. Since then, I have avoided pull-on elastic waist slacks at all costs!

In the early years of my career, classrooms were not air conditioned. We had to open the windows to get a breeze and always kept a fly swatter handy. Why am I sharing this tidbit? Keep reading!
One particularly hot afternoon after a lunch of school tacos, we came back to the classroom to watch a movie. This was back when film projectors had two reels. Like I said, I am OLD! I started the film and my assistant was grading papers at her desk. After about fifteen minutes, she came over and asked if I smelled anything. Being that it was September and I suffer from year round allergies, I told her I did not. Ten minutes later, she was back at my side. She complained that something smelled really bad. I turned on the light and by that time children were complaining about the smell as well. I asked in my sweetest teacher voice if anyone would like to visit the restroom but nobody budged. The smell got worse. By this time my assistant was suffering from dry heaves. Even I could smell it. More children complained. I started taking small groups over to the bathroom and asked if anyone needed to go. Each group replied that they did not.
When I got to the last group, I knew that I had narrowed down the smell. I asked each child if he needed to go to the bathroom. Each child was told that there would be no repercussions and those accidents just happen sometimes.
When I got to J...., it was obvious that I did not need to look any further. I had found the culprit. I asked if he needed any assistance or needed to go to the bathroom. He replied that he did not. I took him into the bathroom and slightly shifted the back of his pants. (I would NEVER do that these days) Pointing to the contents, I asked him what that was. He turned around, looked,  and replied firmly "I don't know where that came from!" His mother came to school to change him.

I had been teaching all of five years when I got nominated for teacher of the year by my colleagues. I was elated. I made it to the top ten and was really excited about my interview with a panel of teachers, principals, and administrators.
As I pulled up to the Administration Building, my lesson plans and books slid to the floor. I hastily picked them up and put them back on the car seat. The interview took about thirty minutes and I left feeling pretty good about my answers.
When I got home, I threw my keys on my bed, plopped down, and screamed bloody murder when I caught my reflection in a mirror. When I had picked up my books from the car floor, I had also picked up some purple ink from a duplicating master book. We didn't use Xerox back then. I had accidentally left a long purple streak of ink across my face before I went in for the interview. Nobody ever said a word.
Oh, and I didn't win that year either.

I remember another year where I wanted to create a reading "hut" for my students. I brought in a refrigerator box and planned to decorate it after school. Meanwhile, I had some parent teacher conferences scheduled for that day. We got the children up from rest time and my assistant took them to a special class. A couple arrived and we sat down to discuss their child's progress. As we were talking, I caught movement in the corner of my eye. It looked like the box moved. Was I hallucinating? We continued talking and then the Mom shrieked. The box was scooting toward us. I went over and picked up the box and couldn't believe my eyes. One of my students had decided this looked like a great rest spot and had crawled under the box and fell asleep. From then on, we always counted the children before we marched them off to a special class!

The next thirty-two years are a blur so I am going to have to reduce myself to sharing snippets of memory that pop up.

In late October I was actually beginning to feel like I might just get the hang of things and started to feel good about my instruction. By Christmas time, I was getting downright cocky. My little charges showered me with wrapped gifts and lots of hugs on the day we got out for Christmas break. Once I got home, I unloaded the presents and arranged them under my Christmas tree. My husband was in awe of the number of lovingly wrapped gifts that were now nestled under our first Christmas tree as a married couple. He presented me with a little black dachshund that night that I named Heidi. We bought a baby gate to keep her in the kitchen area since she was only 8 weeks old and still hadn't learned to go outside to go to the bathroom.
The next day I joined some of my teacher friends for a full day of shopping and lunch. We were excited about our time off from school and animatedly chatted about our holiday plans as we flitted from one store to another.
When we got back to my house, we were still laughing and joking as I opened the door. I think all three of us stared in shock at my den. It literally looked like it had been hit by a tornado. My first thought was to call the police because I feared I had been robbed! Wrapping paper was strewn everywhere along with ribbon, candy, and other debris. Before I could finish dialing 911, one of my friends spotted Heidi lying on her back under the tree. She had chewed through the baby gate that kept her in the kitchen and ripped through every present under the tree. She had consumed bath oil, soap, peanut butter fudge, and cookies. Gnawed ornaments lovingly cross stitched lay in shambles beside her. One child's mother had knitted a scarf for me that was now unraveled from one end of the room to the other. My two colleagues and I looked at each other and fell to the ground laughing. We finally came to our senses when Heidi began to relieve herself of the contents of her stomach. What a mixture!

When we returned to school in January, things moved along nicely and before I knew it, it was conference time. In Kindergarten, we were required to have a conference in September and again in March. One Mother who had not made it to her son's first conference promised to come for the one in the spring. It probably helped that I had called her every day for a week until she finally returned my call and promised to come in the following afternoon.
I had a folder of her child's work ready to share with her and invited her to sit down at a table when she entered my classroom. Once we sat down and got started, I realized that she had a MacDonald's bag with her. As I began showing her work samples, she proceeded to remove a Big Mac from its carton. Not really sure what to say, I continued talking about her child's progress. At one point, she coughed and a piece of lettuce hit me square in the nose. I calmly wiped it away and continued talking. She finished her sandwich and appeared to be listening to me but never made any comment. So far so good I thought to myself as I continued pointing out informal testing results. When I looked up again, her head was nodding. I think it took her all of two minutes to fall asleep and start snoring while sitting up. I frantically looked around for my teammate and motioned for her to come over. Whispering together, we were at a dilemma as to what to do. I finally got brave enough to call her name loudly and she woke up. Once she got her bearings, she picked up the Mac-Donald's bag, thanked me, and got up and left. Later, my teammate pointed out that my hair was also adorned with a piece of lettuce and even a little special sauce. The rest of my conferences that spring were thankfully uneventful. I was just about to finish my first full year of teaching under contract.
I almost made it to the end of the year without any other memorable event. One afternoon, I was busily getting a math activity ready while my teacher assistant took the children out for recess. After about ten minutes, I noticed her banging loudly on the window of our classroom trying to get my attention. She frantically motioned for me to come outside to the Kindergarten playground area located right outside of our building. I couldn't believe what I saw. We had one of those old swing sets that you used to be able to find in every back yard. The shortest and I might add most aggressive child in our class had planted himself on top of the swing set. Not only had he managed to balance, but he was also relieving himself all over the little girls playing in the sand below or swinging. They were screaming and he was laughing hysterically. As I approached him, he started to aim at me. I calmly told him not to even think about it. He spent the rest of the day in the Principal's office while I called my urine soaked charges' parents. I had a splitting headache that afternoon as I dragged myself home.

The next fall, I was offered a permanent position in the school where I did my student teaching. I would be teaching Kindergarten to 26 children in an open classroom. It was a huge circular building with a commons area in the center. There were no walls and I could look into three other classrooms. Each classroom was shared by a team of two teachers and assistants.
At my first staff meeting, I took meticulous notes about policies and procedures. On the very first day of school, my class was walking single file back to the classroom after lunch when the fire alarm sounded. I quickly lined up my class on the side of the sidewalk as I had been told to do and beamed at the Principal as he approached us. I had memorized the procedures and knew he would be impressed. He stopped in front of me and looked puzzled. "What are you doing" he asked. I told him we were in place for the fire drill. He looked at me sympathetically and informed me that what I had heard was the alarm of the fire station across the street. There was no fire drill. I slunk back to my classroom with my sweet little crew following me like baby ducklings oblivious to my error.
Two weeks later, I just knew I could redeem myself when the Principal told me he was coming to do his first official observation of my classroom. I poured over my lesson plans the night before and nervously awaited his arrival.
Once he entered the classroom, I introduced the lesson with a review of the previous day's instruction. As I asked questions, I crossed my legs and tucked them under the round table I was sitting on. The children enthusiastically began raising their hands to answer. So far so good I thought to myself. One timid little girl raised her hand to answer and when I leaned over to listen to her; I lost my balance and rolled forward off the table right onto the children. When I was finally able to uncross my legs and untangle myself, I saw the Principal rolling his eyes and shaking his head. He offered to postpone the observation until the next week. To my horror, as I looked around, I realized all of the other teachers and assistants in the building had watched my freefall. So much for my first observation!
I wondered if I was ever going to get this teaching stuff right.

After serious consideration at rethinking my career choice, I decided to return for a second day in my new classroom. All week long the tantrums continued. The other children and my assistant seemed oblivious to the noise, and everybody stayed out of Chris's way.

After talking to the counselor who was at a loss for suggestions, I decided to take matters into my own hands. My sanity demanded it. Chris had become accustomed to throwing a tantrum, as well as anything he could get his hands on, whenever he did not get his way. That child could destroy a classroom faster than you could blink an eye. I found an unused conference room down the hall and told my assistant that every time he threw a tantrum, he and I would depart for the conference room.

What I witnessed in the conference room paled in comparison to what happened in the classroom. The child gnashed his teeth at me, threw himself against the wall and screamed at the top of his lungs. I bought the best earplugs I could find and calmly sat down until he exhausted himself from chasing me around the conference table gnashing his teeth like a crocodile. I also wore protective clothing and did a lot of praying. I reminded him that as soon as he calmed down, we could go back and join the children and have fun.

After two weeks of removing him from the classroom and sitting with him in the conference room multiple times a day, the tantrums began to subside. By the time the teacher came back for a visit with her new baby in April, she was astounded at how quietly Chris sat in the circle. To be perfectly honest, I was too. By that time, he was also receiving therapy twice a week and was learning to control his impulsive anger. I said a silent prayer every day as I drove home thanking God for the progress the little boy was making and for giving me my sanity back.

I was actually beginning to enjoy my new profession by May. My co-workers informed me that we would soon begin end of the year conferences. I couldn't wait to share the children's progress with their respective parents. My first conference was a very young Mother who rode the city bus so she could attend my conference. I patiently went over her daughter's progress with her and was pleased that she continually nodded her head in approval. After she left, I floated over to the other Kindergarten teacher to tell her how well my first conference had gone. She smiled at me sympathetically as she told me that the woman couldn't understand a word of English. I made a silent note to myself to make sure in the future that the parents understood English before I plunged headlong into a conference. I realized I had a lot to learn.

One day as my teacher assistant and I sat in the teacher's lounge while our students were in music, I noticed her twisting some paper in a long skinny tube using loose tea in a bag. I asked her what it was and if it was a suggestion for a science experiment. She looked at me with a puzzled look on her face and calmly informed me that it was a joint. I thought I was going to wet my pants on the spot. Being her supervisor and all of two years older, I told her to take that stuff out of the building. All I could picture was a headline stating "Rookie teacher arrested for rolling joints with her assistant". I further explained that if she brought it in again, I would have to report her. Our relationship took a downturn after that, but at least I didn't get fired or arrested.

Looking back now when I have a class of sixteen with a full time assistant, I wonder how I managed that first year. Little did I realize that this was only the beginning!

I guess I should start at the beginning. When I graduated from college in 1976, I couldn't wait to start looking for a teaching job. I got my resume ready and hit the pavement. I just knew some Principal would not waste any time calling me to offer me a position.
Two days before the new school year was to start, I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to land a position and settled for a job as a teacher assistant. I enjoyed the job but relentlessly kept looking for a classroom position.
In December, I got a call about an interim Kindergarten position. I was elated as I drove over to the school for an interview. Little did I realize that at least 8 people had already thumbed their nose up at the position and the Principal was getting desperate. There was the matter of 32 children in a full day kindergarten class with one teacher assistant.
I arrived for my interview and talked with the Principal for all of ten minutes. I was shocked when she offered me the position and offered to take me down to meet the pregnant teacher. I learned that I would start the job after Christmas break, which would give me about three weeks to prepare for my new job. I spent the rest of the day following the poor pregnant teacher around like a lost puppy. Unfortunately, I must have accidentally bumped her stomach no less than ten times from following too close.
I drove home silently congratulating myself on my new position. My husband took me out to dinner that night so that we could celebrate and I spent the rest of the week-end calling everyone I knew to tell them of my good fortune. I got a call from the Principal Sunday evening telling me that the teacher had unexpectedly gone into labor and that I would need to start the next morning. I thanked her for calling and hung up the phone in shock, my eyes as wide as saucers. Ready or not, I was heading into my own classroom!
I arrived bright and early Monday morning not knowing what to expect. The closer I got to my new classroom, the louder some ear splitting screams got. I took off running to see who had been injured. I found a tiny boy writhing on the rug throwing the worst tantrum I had ever seen. I looked at the teacher assistant who was two years younger than I in disbelief. She looked bored as she told me that Chris had been absent on Friday and that he did this all day long. We were not allowed to take him to the Principal or the counselor because he would get violent, biting and kicking. The former teacher had resigned herself to giving him free reign in the classroom in order to avoid getting attacked herself. He had been referred by the counselor to the local mental health center and they were hopeful he would be seen by March.
As I drove home that afternoon, tears streamed down my face. I had the worst headache I'd ever had in my life and my ears were ringing from the ongoing tantrum. What in the world had I gotten into!

For years I have been telling myself that I would start keeping a record of my experiences in Kindergarten. Since this is my 34th of teaching, this would probably be a great day to start! I  am going to blog about my  experiences as a kindergarten teacher and educator.

Have I got some stories to share with you! I can't think of a more rewarding job on earth than teaching kindergarten. Even though your sleeve often turns into a Kleenex, a helpful child may stir your tea with their finger when you aren't looking, or a child can eat an entire dozen cupcakes brought in for a party if you turn your head for two is a terrific job. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that you made a difference in the life of a young child! I can't wait to share my adventures with you!