Sunday, July 6, 2014
Reflections on a school year
It's been awhile since I've blogged.
I've had a glorious ten days of summer break so far, which began with my niece's wedding and lots of time with extended family I hadn't seen in far too long. Yes, summer!
I have been dreaming - or 'nightmaring' - about school each night. What is that about?
Here are snippets -
I can't find my way to my classroom, I'm trapped in the hallway several rooms away...I know the children are inside the classroom waiting for me, I can hear their voices, playing loudly, and plaintive cries of "Where's Ms. Ingram? Where's Ms. Ingram?," yet I am trapped in the hallway by one thing after another ... a parent with an urgent need, an administrator with an urgent demand, a child from another class who urgently requires....
It's the new year and school has begun and my children are arriving but none of my boxes have made it to the classroom, none of my tables or chairs or anything whatsover ... all is lost...the children are streaming in the door and my new Teaching Resident is looking at me - what are we to do?
I am on vacation and I am at a restaurant and I see that I am surrounded by the families of this year's students and next year's students and they are eating breakfast, before school, because it is the first day of school and I am confused - but I didn't have a summer break? What do you mean it is the first day of school? I am on vacation. I can't get there in time!
What are these tense night-time dramas about?
Why am I so preoccupied with preschool during summer?
I'm a little surprised that I am having these anxious thoughts some ten days into summer, though they are a testament that I have finished a long, challenging school year and have not yet decompressed.
We worked a long, full week after the children's school year ended, packing our rooms for the big move this summer, labeling all our furniture and equipment for the new space. Everything is so organized! I really enjoyed the process - it was cleansing and comforting to have everything stored "just so" in boxes, to throw out the useless and unnecessary, to begin to imagine the new building and my new classroom.
I had many reflections as I packed.
I had a very nice last week of school with the preschoolers...still a few tantrums, of course - preschoolers with raw feelings on display - but, overall, a profound sense of community, children lingering at whole group gatherings, wanting to share and participate, not wanting to leave one another...I count this as success!
I smile when I think about them on "splash day," one of the last days of school, when everyone was just delighted to be playing in the water in our [miserable!] side alley location.
Pay no mind to the dumpsters at one end of the alley and the corresponding stench,
pay no mind to the throngs of preschoolers [four early childhood classes of children were crammed onto the alley at the same time],
pay no mind to our most basic, limited accoutrements - one single hose providing water, no sprinklers, a hard, rough, asphalt surface,
when there is water, children are happy!
They were thrilled to have teachers spray the hose on and around them,
happily labored over our school's large blue blocks,
soaping, lathering, scrubbing these
(helping us get the blue blocks ready for the move),
they delighted in lounging on beach towels at the far end of the alley, dry in the sun.
Some, over and over, squeezing soap from sponges,
another stepping into the bucket each time I refilled - loving the sensation of the soapy water,
several, dumping buckets out and following the stream, where will it go?
many, tossing soapy sponges back and forth,
still others, scrubbing not just the blocks,
but the walls of the building, the alley floor, and, of course, themselves,
happy, happy, happy.
Everyone was happy.
Everyone was allowed to do their own thing.
(I smile at the image of one student who did not want to get wet at all; he stayed to the side, dressed in his regular clothes, a companion to his teacher, completely calm and happy, helping her fill soapy buckets of water with the hose - and being careful to stay dry.)
A full morning of revelry with water and I don't remember a single altercation, a single frown, a single tear.
Everyone was happy.
Ideally, preschool is filled with these type experiences for children...sensory satisfying, and open-ended yet purposeful, allowing everyone the flexibility to do their own thing comfortably together.