Okay, ordinarily I try to be a little tongue-in-cheek, to add a little hilarity to what truly is a hilarious day. And, while I am sure there were hilarious moments to my day, please bear with me while I rant just a little bit.
Dear School Administrators:
Half a day is just not long enough for kindergarten. In the good old days, when kindergarten was all about paint and clay and "don't eat the glue" and "scissors aren't for cutting hair" (this last one was actually heard coming from my mouth today) and learning how to share crayons and let the girls play with blocks, and let the boys in the house center- half a day was probably enough. Now, when there are five binders of state standards on my desk, and a scope and sequence of what my little knotty-headed sugars need to know, half a day is not enough. When some of my kids go to day care in the morning, get on a bus for kindergarten, and then leave on the daycare bus to spend another three hours at day care, a half a day is not enough. When I have to catch some kids sneaking food in my classroom because no one fed them at home, and they could qualify for the free lunch program, HALF A DAY IS NOT E_EFFING_NOUGH.
Let me tell you about how my full day preschoolers had it- we had a whole day to play, and discover, and explore books and new things. I could rip off the tops of pumpkins and they could squish to their hearts content. I could take them outside to jump in some leaves, and we could talk about the words crunchy, crispy, and scratchy. I could create picture recipes that four year olds could follow to make their own play-dough. We could read all together before quiet time, listen to interesting music, and have some rest. We could do one letter every few days, and the kids were learning how to form it and the memory of the letter S and F and all the rest actually stuck without sliding off their very engaged brains.
Now let me tell you how my half-day kindergarteners have it, prefacing this with the very real fact that in later grades, the first, second, and so on grade teachers are wondering why the kids are so hyper-rushed-why they can't do quality work. Well, because somehow I have to cram-pack letter-phonemic awareness into their very diverse little brains, while at the same time setting a foundation for numeration and basic functions of numbers. I have a range of needs to meet, a couple of behavior charts to set up and keep track of, and a child who is still learning English (with all of his might). And, boy, are they learning. They're learning that speed is valued over quality, they're learning that Mrs. C. can't listen to their stories about their mornings, because we only have three and a half hours in one day, and that includes a half an hour for library or computer lab or whatever, and the fifteen minutes it takes to get ready to go home. They're learning that if they just follow along with the rank and file and don't ask questions or wonder why, that they get a gold f-ing star and a treat.
I'm turning into the monster that I hate- the propagator of the "Rushed Child;" the Ritalin manufacturer’s dream. I'm festooning my room with books carefully chosen (and bought with money I could not afford to spend on them, but did anyways) from the IRA and NAEYC's best literature lists, and the kids can barely get a chance to get their hands on them. I just about want to call Geneseo and tell them to take my diploma back every time a kid looks over at the books from where we're doing crap inactive work, and tells me hopefully, "I like Little Critter," and I have to tell them that I hope we get to look at it one day. I feel like I have this great classroom of kids and I can't be a teacher to them the way that I want to because I have so many things to check off the list that was created by YOU ADMINISTRATORS, you who have barely set foot in a classroom, you who don't even visit a classroom except for to critique. Well, I've had it. I've decided that the worst that could happen was I can be terminated without rehire at the end of the school year, so we're going to do this MY way. My students will read and be read to; my students will have a chance to look at all materials I bring in; if I want to let them build a fish tank instead of practicing their name for a day, by God that's what we'll do.
Sincerely, one fed up teacher.