There has been a lot of changes since I last blogged. In mid-February, I secured a full-time position as assistant early-development teacher. It was a great opportunity which I seized, hoping that the steady income and benefits would replace a sketchy substitute teacher schedule and help buoy my finances while I continued my career search for a full-time science position and personal PD on the side.
Working with toddlers is an extreme change from middle and secondary students and there was a lot to learn in the last few weeks. The children are very endearing, but it does take a lot of mental and physical stamina to keep up with the fast-paced and often chaotic environment. I find that I am greatly enjoying my experience though and most importantly, I am learning many things about myself and many new lessons I can apply to older age settings later on.
Lesson #1: Interacting with toddlers has reminded me of how powerful imagination and curiosity can be for students. In the first two weeks, I was embarrassed that I didn’t know many nursery rhymes, or couldn’t sing, or couldn’t improvise on the spot when play-acting with puppets or toys. Thinking back, there was not a lot of play or a larger focus on the creative learning modality in my previous science lessons and assessments. There is a wonderful joy in playful learning and I think that most middle and secondary settings miss that component in their curricula, especially in subjects that emphasize precision and accuracy, like science or math.
Lesson #2: The power of communication is very strong. Parents want–need– to know about their children. From the first day of work, I sent home letters in which I painstakingly wrote details about what their child learned, with whom they interacted, and included funny anecdotes that occured throughout the day. In less than four days of my employment, I received calls from parents who were grateful for the descriptive feedback.
Today I received a progress report for my middle-school-aged stepson with canned responses from a drop-down menu of the school’s grading system. Which type of report would a parent better learn from about their child’s progress in school? As my partner once said, “You may be a teacher with great experience in teaching many students, but I am a parent and am interested only in my child.” Parents want to know, and appreciate the effort it takes for a teacher to get to know their child.
It is a challenging, but also exciting adventure so far working in a new environment, with a completely different age group. I regret that it has taken me away from my normal routines with my networks, contacts, and friends lately but slowly I am adjusting and getting into the swing of things. Like my motto, there is always something new to learn! Hopefully, I will be able to reconnect online when I feel more comfortable with my schedule and learning curve.