Rebecca Rushmore has taught Kindergarten this year on a temporary contract at Hickory Elementary, part of the Avon Community School Corporation which is near Indianapolis, Indiana. She is applying for elementary teaching jobs for next fall in anticipation of another year of growth and learning. Between her graduation with a degree in elementary education from Purdue University and her first teaching position this year, she was a manager at Radio Shack and worked in veterinary practice. Her daughter started Kindergarten this year, so the two of them have had fun comparing what they’ve done each day and each week throughout the year. She wrote today’s blog for National Kindergarten Day.
As teachers we have all had “the first year of teaching.” The one where some days you wonder if this is really all worth it. Is it worth it to spend so much time at school and away from my family preparing for the next lesson, the next week, or the next observation? But then two days later you wonder how and why you ever did anything else before teaching.
But really, this has been a wonderful first year of teaching for so many reasons. For one, my mentor, another kindergarten teacher, has been beyond wonderful in so many ways! She is always there to encourage me when I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing, and she is there to push me when she knows I need it. She has resources for anything and everything. And she is a great listener who offers advice for my difficulties.
But my favorite part of my first year of teacher is my kindergarteners. They are amazing and are changing so fast in so many ways! The week before Spring Break was one of those great “Ah-Ha” weeks for me. We were working on writing in class, and with report cards having just come out a couple weeks before, I knew where most of my students were with their writing level. But I also knew that I had some students who were on the bubble of achieving the next level with their writing. So I did what I have been afraid to do all school year with their writing: I pushed them for more – more details, more sentences, and more information. And it was incredible! Some of my students who I didn’t think were ready to move to the next level of writing completely blew me away! And those who I knew were ready did even better than I expected. It was so rewarding!
It was a week where I really started to realize how much kindergarteners change throughout the school year. They come in to school at such different stages. Some of them are more than ready. They know half the sight words already, can count to 100, and know their letters and numbers forwards and backwards. But some of them come in to kindergarten with no previous structure, having never been away from their parents, and with no knowledge of letters or how they make words. But yet, they are all expected to know the same things when they leave kindergarten, including addition and how to write basic sentences. And it is my job as a kindergarten teacher to guide them through their journey. It is such a huge year for students to learn and develop and change. And it is so important for them to build upon.
And then I realized what a huge year it has been for me as a new teacher, to learn and grow and develop and change. And a year for me to build upon no matter where I teach or what grade level I teach after this.