Two weeks ago, we took a break from regular kindergarten to hold Kindergarten Round Up. For those of you who have never heard this term before, it's a day for the incoming group of kindergartners to show us what they know. The way our district does it is to have the students in one classroom where we read to them, test them on different skills, and simply watch them play and interact; the parents are in another classroom where a teacher, the principal, the nurse, and the guidance counselor provide information about our school, kindergarten, and education in general.
This was my first time experiencing Round Up as a kindergarten teacher. My previous district ran a different process during which the preschool teachers brought the students over for testing, stories, and play during preschool. As a preschool teacher, I experienced Round Up from that perspective three times, and I typically enjoyed it. If there is one thing I can easily do, it's talk about my students; that's exactly what I got to do as the preschool teacher. I got to share about their strengths and weaknesses, who they got along with and who they struggled with, and general information about them.
This year was entirely different, in a good way. I absolutely loved those days! Here's why:
- We got to go out for lunch! Any teacher knows that lunchtime is not plentiful. If you're like me, you shove your food down your throat as quickly as possible so you can get back to your classroom to get ready for the rest of the day. Most days, I spend about 12 minutes eating. Going out to for lunch is absolutely not a possibility on a regular teaching day. During Round Up, we had three sessions a day: one from 8:15-9:45, one from 10:30-12:00, and one from 1:30-3:00. We had a full hour and a half to eat lunch! It was a great bonding experience for me, as a new staff member. I got to spend time talking to people I don't normally have time to talk to. We laughed and had a great time!
- I got to spend one-on-one time with students. My job during Round Up was to test the incoming kindergartners on many different skills. We looked at colors, shapes, letters, numbers, following directions, memory skills, and other skills I'm sure I'm forgetting. The best part about all of that, though, was I got to sit and chat with some great kids. We talked about everything from what we had for breakfast to where to get Butterfinger ice cream to our brothers and sisters. I miss these important positive interactions that often get left out of my day in all of the hustle and bustle. I smiled more during the two days of Round Up than I had in weeks.
- I got to play! As the kiddos filtered in at the beginning of each session, they sat on the carpet and played with the toys we had set out. There were wooden blocks, star builders, Mr. Potato Heads, bristle blocks and trains. Since part of my job was to assess social development, I got to sit on the carpet and play with the kiddos! If there is one thing I miss most about preschool, it is those times; the times where kiddos are experimenting with ways to build and create their visions. Together, we built all kinds of silly Potato Heads and discovered a new way to use some plastic Lego-like blocks as a roller coaster. What a great way to spend the day!
- Preschoolers are hilarious! I had one child excitedly tell me about her breakfast: eggs with......(surprise) Miracle Whip. That was a first for me. She highly recommended the recipe, although, I'm not quite sure that I'll be brave enough to attempt it. There was one little guy who had the tiniest, squeaky, Mickey Mouse voice; he was so excited to be there. When he arrived, he stepped through the doorway, put his hands on his hips, and announced, "I'm (First Name) (Middle Name) (Last Name)!" As we were leaving, he said, "I'm amazed at today!" I wish I could bottle that kind of energy and excitement for life. Another little guy became very concerned when one of our associates told him she was going to pin his name tag right to him. He said, "Is it gonna hurt?" She explained that she was going to pin it to his shirt, and he relaxed a little. Although, as she was pinning it, he asked, "Is it almost over?" Poor little guy!
- Finally, the freshness in a new group of kiddos is exciting. I love my current group of kiddos. I really, really do. They challenge me in all kinds of ways, and I am a better teacher because I have had them. I know I will miss this group when it is no longer mine. I am pretty sure I will be moving along to 1st grade with this group of kindergartners, so I wasn't exactly looking at my future group of fresh kindergartners; however, that didn't change my excitement for a new group. I'm ready to watch new friendships form and to discover new personalities. It excites me to think about the new strategies and activities I'll get to do with my new group next year. Those two days gave me a chance to build that excitement and enthusiasm!
I went into Round Up with very little idea of what the days would look like, and I was a little anxious about my job. It turned out to be a great time! I'm thankful for the experience, and I wish the best of luck to all of the young kiddos I met those days!