Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Kindergartner- Conn. Tragedy Tribute

(My typewriter with the names of the children that were killed on that dreadful)

As a teacher- a substitute teacher none-the-less, I am pretty emotional about the massacre in Connecticut. One of this blog's premisess' is based on the "whoas" of teaching... Today was one big Woe.

A lot of my inspiration came/comes from being in the class room or coaching. Something that I haven't been able to do for some time. However, the 'teaching'; it continues day in and day out with my little pupil and son, Jaden.

 At J's school I taught kindergarten class on a regular basis a few years ago. Every day is a lot like the day before. Routine. Going over the same things to learn their numbers, letters, how to cut things out and how to interact with others. It can be tough. But it becomes safe and familar.

Hearing the news of the shootings reminded me of 9.11 because both unfolded on the radio for me as I sat devastated. Today, I was at the table trying to wrap some gifts as I  heard the chief of police unfold the morning piece by piece. First that he shot the principal as she was doing the morning news over the intercom. Then he shot other staff members. Finally, one of the officials said  that the gunman had confined the massacre to two rooms.......

But which two??? I anticipated the older children for some reason. Until eventually it was revealed that it was smallest of them all. The pint sized ones. The ones who were probably getting ready to or were sitting on the floor, at the foot of their teacher sitting criss cross apple sauce and reading a book.

Either way, today they would've counted to the 14th while their teacher used a stick or wand to point to the numbers on the Calendar.
After reaching the 14th they would repeat in unison: "December 14th 2012". Then they would have counted by 5's and possibly 10's. Just like every other day since they had started school for the first time.

My heart aches and as I thought about the characteristics of these little ones and the traumatic experience they faced today.... tears came. So here is what I recall about this special age and my time in the class room with them. And my prayers are with the families that lost their children today. That had their children witness this event. And I pray for parents everywhere that little ones  are protecte and loved how the Lord would love them. (see below my description of "A kindergartner".)

A Kindergartner is.....


wears a plastic Disney back pack that is almost bigger than he/she is to school.

is overjoyed to wear that back pack and finally go to school.

loves to ride a bus.

able to sit criss cross applesauce for a little while.....

unable to sit criss cross, instead lays on the outer fringes of the rug like he were doing a snow angel.

able to raise their hand for every question; even if they don't have the answer.

still working on using a tissue to get boogs out and cover sneezes.

needs a snack, like graham, fish, or animal crackers to get through the day.

knows her birthday, and others and will tell you in the middle of reading a book.

has a hard time sticking to the subject without an elaborate story from home.

able to sit in a tiny chair that the teacher can only get half of herself onto.

uses way too much glue.

needs help with coat zippers.

has shoelaces that need to be tied.

calls you "Teacher", no matter what your name is.

loves recess and standing by the duty (you as their teacher) and talking.

hugs you in the hall, in class, out on the play ground and their head buries itself right at your hip.

tells tall tales.

learns to write the alphabet.

uses crayons to draw pictures for you to take home and put on your fridge.

uses tiny scissors to cut things.

always losing mittens or hats during winter.

wears their boots in the classroom,, where the aroma of wet, sweaty kindergarten feet fills the air!

sometimes gets lice. 

gives compliments. (once one, who looked like a Mexican version of the chubby mouse off of Cinderella came up to me and said: "Teacher, you're pretty." I was in a purple dress.

likes to get a drink from the drinking fountain.

loves to play pretend house with the kitchen set, or build forts and towers with wooden blocks and scatter them all over.

cries or is nervous when there is something amiss- like when a substitute teacher comes to class.

loves their teacher and worries about him/her. Especially if sick or in an accident.

tender hearted.



may not speak English.

laughs at my Spanish jokes or little songs.

loves reading time

loves to share what their work to their classmates who sit on the rug while he/she stand next to the teacher in her chair.

loves to use the dry erase markers and pre-tend to be the teacher- at school and at home.

has to use the handrail on the bus to climb the huge first step onto it.

loves when it is singing time and they get to dance and move and wiggle to the music teacher's songs.

will tell you things that the parents probably don't want you to know!

may have a learning disability like ADD.

sometimes rolls out of bed and comes to school without brushing their hair.

may be neglected at home

trusts you.

wants to please you.

is learning to sound out the letters of the alphabet.

hangs their coat and bag in the same place each day.

sits at a table with their name displayed on it.

day dreams. A lot.

talks a lot to their neighbor.

is mischievious.

doesn't want mom, dad, grandma or caretaker to leave when they come to volunteer.

can make quite a mess with glue, construction paper, and their clothes.

loves to paint.

loves play dough. (so does this teacher- it is a nice stress reliever. )

smells like home-made salty play dough.

will sometimes eat play dough. crayons. erasers off the end of pencils and other objects.

wants to always have their pencil sharp; and needs to use the teacher's sharpener.

will lie

will tell the honest truth.  ("Teacher you have... fill in the blank!)

loves to bring a little toy from home and can't keep it in their pocket.

will cry if what they brought from home has to be on the Teacher's desk til iit's time to go home.

will have her hair all done up with cute barrettes or bows.

loves to wear fluffy skirts and twirl in them. (girls)

has holes in the knees of their jeans (mainly the boys. : ) from playing with cars and trucks and rough housing on the ground.

has grass stains on their jeans.

can get into a huge mess in the bathroom.

can "miss" getting to the bathroom in time.

can throw up in the middle of where everyone walks.

learns to wash their hands for the whole duration of Happy Birthday and with warm water.

did I say loves to listen to you read to them??????

likes order and routine and may even come un-glued if a sub does things differently than their real teacher!

believes you will keep them safe.

Stop here, reader, if you don't want to hear more the ramblings of a sub teacher, coach, and mother.I got a little carried away earlier.

Because this post went in a different direction than I thought. But I needed to write it down. And, maybe, these words will somehow help us all remember how to teach and treat little ones....

A long time ago I found that I loved teaching children. Well, that I loved children. Period. It was so important for me to know how God, and His Son would teach a child. I will never forget being in college at USU when a man by the name of Gordon B. Hinckley spoke to a stadium filled with college students, about things I have forgotten since. But at one point he seemed to look directly in my section and with a pause then his hand lifted in the air and finger pointed, he said: "There is never a reason for you to raise your hand or your voice to a child."

This man was the Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I belong to this church.
After years of searching and learning about child hood education, I heard the words that my heart had always known and felt validated by this bold statement.

Never before had any Prophet of my faith so boldly said what he felt. It isn't part of the 10 C's. I had heard this man say: "Spare the rod- but not the fishing rod" during one general conference. So it wasn't like I could or members of my faith were required to follow this admonition to be able to gain eternal salvation.

Our church is one that allows people to govern themselves. But in my heart I always carried this conviction and looked for it in my studies, looked for data to back up the fact that physical force against a child wasn't necessary- that there were other ways. This journey led me to hear even a much harder admonition: Not raise my voice. NOw that would be HARD.

As 22 year old sitting in the Aggie gym, I wrote down what I heard in my navy blue Franklin planner and felt it was as valid and important as if Moses were coming down a mountain with Rock plates in his hands and the finger of the Lord's wriiting upon it.

This post isn't going the way I thought it would initially......

When I informed others of how I would raise my children, or I instigated a "softer" approach to how I re-directed I felt as if I was judged as being an enabler, or too soft. Etc.

One more example that came from a prominent individual in my church was at a Stake General conference. This is a gathering of several wards. Think of a tent. You have a neighborhood that makes up a group and then several of those groups; a stake.

Elder Nelson, spoke to us in person and the first thing he had us do was have the kids stand up on their chairs. ??? huh??

My son and I were in the gym, where cold fold up chairs were set up. I didn't feel too bad about the kids standing up on these, but what about the pews? Elder Nelson had to urge us parents, those in the nice pews, to allow the kids to put their dirty shoes up on the furniture.

Whoa!!!!!!!!! Man, we got in trouble with mom and dad if we put our shoes up on the pew in front of us, let alone STAND on top of them. WHOA! The children stood up. Elder Nelson then told us to
"behold" our children.

He repeated what I'd heard many years before- he spoke of abuse. Not just physical. But emotional.
Having these little ones, up above us, on a pedastal and hearing Nelson talk about how The Lord felt about these little ones.....

NOW, I don't want you to think I have never spanked J. I have. I can recall the few times that I did. How I had gone back on my promise to myself and against the knowledge I'd aquired. Please also know that I think that sometimes you gotta get a kids attention. Maybe a swat as they run toward a highway is exactly the kind of jolt you need to give a child.

Every time I've needed to "teach" J. or discipline I've felt a distinct moment of choice- I could either go ballistic, get angry, or do......... sometimes it is different.

There have been some big FAILS. Moments I did the wrong thing.

I'm too tired to edit or finish the thoughts of the day. This was written over the course of a few points during my day so it may not flow. And I have had a hard time thinking with the concussion dealio.

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