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A Little Note to Those Who Decided that Kindergarten Teachers Don’t Really Need Support.

on September 16, 2016

Dear Decision-Maker

 

I am writing today with a discouraged yet hopeful heart. You will hear words from the perspective of a parent of kids nearly graduated, of a volunteer for the schools those kids attend, and of a citizen of a community who plans on staying put and supporting future generations in our schools. I am passionate about the school district, about children, and about education in general. My hope is that this background provides enough credibility for you to really hear my plea and strongly consider doing whatever you can to help out.

 

When my oldest child started school, a kindergarten paraprofessional was in place in each kindergarten classroom. Now, these saints who bravely begin their days with loving smiles and end them with utter exhaustion and despair for not having been able to do more in their kindergarten rooms are flying solo more often than not. I mentioned my passion for education. That passion is what is driving this request – no, plea – for getting these people the help they need. For getting the help these children and their families need. These children and their families deserve more.

 

Kindergarten is a year of such great divide, especially in districts of haves and have nots. Some kids literally walk in on day one reading Dr. Seuss books and sitting with hands folded, eagerly awaiting to learn. Others have no idea what a letter even is and can’t understand the concept of sitting in a chair or not finding out how the scissors are going to affect their neighbors’ hair. It turns into a glorified game of Whack-A-Mole at this point. Survival. These teachers are creating the foundation for these kids. They are responsible for such a critical piece in these students’ educational journeys. These teachers deserve more. More credit, more help, more support.

 

These educators are amazing. They practice routines. They remind, encourage, love. Oh, do they love. Their heart breaks for every child in there who needs more than an average day in their cheerful room can give them. And so, they keep on plodding up that hill in their seemingly lead-filled shoes. And while they’re treading water and redirecting, sure, there are some kids who will be able to keep up, who will learn lessons in empathy for their peers who can’t do as much. But then, there are the ones in the middle. They can get lost in an understaffed system such as these. Actually, let’s be honest here: they can all get lost when so much focus is being put on that lowest, most basic level of need of keeping those kids safe in those rooms. Maslow for education: a teacher can’t even think of teaching content if those kids are not safe. And these teachers are doing an amazing job of keeping the kids safe and then fitting in content when they are able. When they are able. They would tell you that those sweet children deserve more. More reminders, more encouragement, more love.

 

Technology is becoming increasingly more utilized in the classrooms. I think it’s terrific. Unless it’s in a kindergarten room with 22 children who have headphone jacks that don’t work or who accidentally clicked the red X even though they weren’t supposed to. Again, it’s Whack-A-Mole, computer style. And in any lesson on those computers – lessons they so greatly need in today’s technologically driven society – we have effectively removed more than half of that learning time for kids who are understandably unable to problem solve on their own because they have such limited exposure at this point to the projects they are doing. One teacher helping 25 tiny children find the red X at different times makes for a lot of sitting and waiting for those squirmy little 5-year-olds who can’t do it without help. Those 5-year-olds deserve more. More hands-on help, more clickers, more guidance.

 

Shoes come untied. A lot. Noses run. A lot. Pee runs down legs, and then tears follow. Short educational online storybooks that may or may not hold the interest of kids offer a moment to cram in some testing. Then more testing. Then he took her red crayon or his pencil broke. Again. And then some more tests. And then he’s thirsty and she’s hungry. And they’ve already read that book and just don’t want to practice writing their letters. All while there is more testing that still needs to be done so that someone somewhere can decide the effectiveness of that teacher in that classroom.Those kids deserve more. More credit for the un-testable lessons they are learning.

 

I could give probably 100 more examples of why these teachers should not be expected to do this job without support but do it anyway to the best of their abilities. I hope I don’t need to. I would invite anyone who disagrees to spend one day in a kindergarten classroom with an expectation of productivity and see how it goes. I have watched these teachers. They love those kids. And they have days in those rooms when the best they can say is that the kids made it home safe and that no one’s hair got cut by wayward scissors. Those kids deserve more. More of a chance.

 

These teachers work miracles, in my opinion. They are handed a room full of adorable cats, some eager, some tired, some hungry, some hissing and clawing, some bouncing around simply because they can. They take these cats and herd them as well as they are able. They pour as much love and attention as they can into the group so that those kitties can go home and tell mom that they learned what short A says and how to add one more bear, so that they can feel loved and cared for. They are wonderful. But they are tired. They need help. Those teachers deserve more. More hands to help guide those kittens

 

Our kids need help.

We can do better.

We should do better.

 

Let’s give them – these future leaders of our community – and their teachers better and get some help in these classrooms. Let’s find room in the budgets for qualified staff to come in and love those kids alongside those teachers. They all deserve more. More of that love that will stay with them their entire lives.

 

Respectfully,

 

A mom who knows there is a special place in heaven for kindergarten teachers.

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One response to “A Little Note to Those Who Decided that Kindergarten Teachers Don’t Really Need Support.

  1. McCourt says:

    Awesome post!

    Like

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