A Day in My Life – January 4, 2023 – Kindergarten Edition

Jan 4, 2023 | Day in the Life, Uncategorized | 13 comments

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On Wednesdays, I’m an aide with a kindergarten class in a Schenectady City School. In my other volunteer work, I read, one-on-one, with specific students. I’ve worked with the teacher I was with today for more than six years, although the pandemic quarantine year (2020) stood in the way of what would have been the seventh one. She’s an amazing teacher (no one better bad-mouth teachers to me; I’d give them a mouthful of incredible observations I’ve seen at this school and the other one at which I volunteer). She’s now doing “looping,” which means this year she had kindergarten this year and will have the same students next year for first grade. It’s a philosophy in education that this particular school is trying.

When I work at the other school, I’m with one second grader and one third grader. Kindergarten is a completely different ball game. I go from table to table and just check in on what they’re doing. I should make a recording for these kids and, in radio parlance, run it on a continuous loop: “First, you must put your name on your paper before you start to complete the assignment!” That’s the first thing. Many of them forget that first step.

Today they had four words at the top of their papers. Let’s see if this 74-year-old blogger can remember them:

FROG
DRUM
CRAB
TWIG

The point was to have them look at drawings of those things, identify them, and write the word under the drawings. The kids were identifying the items well enough, but their handwriting (and we’re not talking cursive here) is not great. I made the point to them at each table that the beginning of each word two letters joined together to make one sound. That was ASTOUNDING news to them.

The teacher asked me if I was giving them the answers; I was not. I was showing them the ways in which letters work together to form one sound. EUREKA!

The next exercise she did with them was to explain what more and less volume in containers is. She showed them photos of containers and gave them worksheets to match up things inside the containers with photos of the same size. They needed to use their coloring skills to identify the difference.

When I left, they all wanted to hug me. I can hug them; their teachers cannot. What a shame. But it means I can get some great loving from these kids when I’m not near my own grandchildren. One of these kids today was dressed in “full Michael Jordan” mode. I kept calling him “Michael Jordan” and telling him that I had actually watched Michael Jordan play basketball on TV. He was astounded. I asked him if he knew who Scottie Pippin was. “Who?” Ah, showing my age, once again.

After that, I went to play tennis with three of my friends. We had a blast. We split sets. My partner and I won the first set, while our opponents won the second. We did not hug one another after the match. And no one was dressed in full Michael Jordan mode. Maybe next week.

(P.S. You should be able to make comments on this post now. The person who maintains my website says it should work now!)

13 Comments

  1. Patty Perrin

    Hi, Wanda!

    I love your stories about the schools where you volunteer. What a great benefit you get with the hugging. And what a shame the teachers can’t hug their students. Hugs are wonderfully therapeutic. And isn’t it fun how excited kids get when they learn something new? So glad you enjoyed your tennis game. Hugs should be mandatory.

    Blessings!
    Patty

    Reply
    • Wanda Fischer

      Hi Patty–Yes, I think I actually get more out of my volunteering than the kids do. I just wish more people would get involved! The program is called “Reading is Fun.” Yes, it is!

      Reply
  2. Yvette M Calleiro

    Wanda, I teach 8th grade and they still forget to put their name on their paper, and their handwriting is still atrocious. Lol! I still teach consonant blends and digraphs to my lowest kids. Sadly, for some of them, it doesn’t click in their brain until after elementary, but I make sure they get it before they leave me. Thank you for volunteering your time to make a difference in the lives of kids.

    Yvette M Calleiro
    http://yvettemcalleiro.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Wanda Fischer

      You’re so right, Yvette. Some of them ask, “When are you going to read with ME?” I would love to spend time with all of them, but my time is limited. One of my kids at the other school, not the one yesterday, tries to change the story when he’s “reading.” I have to keep pointing to the first letter and saying, “starts with…” One of my tennis friends illustrated a book without words, so I let him write a story to go along with the illustrations. He didn’t actually write it–I took notes and transcribed down what he said. He is so proud of himself! He took it home and showed his parents. His dad speaks no English, but he said even his dad was proud of him. I certainly am! This is my second year working with him.

      Reply
  3. Pat Garcia

    Hi Wanda,
    More than you getting hugs and love, those kids are getting hugs and love. You are changing their lives and you never know where they will end up. Maybe one of them will be the President of the United States, and he will tell the story about a lady who cared that he learn how to speak well, and that person will have been you.
    Keep up the good work you’re doing. I admire it greatly.
    Shalom Aleichem

    Reply
    • Wanda Fischer

      I just love these kids, Pat. Both of my (now adult) children graduated from this same school system. It’s considered an inner-city school district, and the teachers have always been incredibly dedicated. Now I’m experiencing it first-hand. My daughter was so inspired by her experiences in Schenectady that she went on to earn her first master’s degree in urban education. She also earned one in special ed and another in English as a second language. She taught in the inner city in Boston for 15 years. We were always collecting clothes and gifts for her students. The teachers in Schenectady do the same thing. I’m proud to be on their team, even if only a couple of times a week.

      Thanks for your kind remarks.

      Reply
  4. Pat Garcia

    Hi, Wanda,
    I don’t know what the problem is but my comment has disappeared and I didn’t copy the comment before I hit send. Please let me know if you received my comment.
    Shalom Aleichem

    Reply
    • Wanda Fischer

      I did get it. It seems I can’t post on Shirley’s blog or on Maura Beth’s blog. Maybe that bug will work itself out over the next could have days!

      Reply
  5. Maura Beth Brennan

    Well, here is try #2, my first comment seems to have flown away. A fun post! Your volunteer work.sounds so fulfilling, and you seem to be great at it! As for.tennis, no comment. My lack of athletic ability leaves me speechless. Glad you had a fun game though.

    Reply
  6. Wanda Fischer

    Thanks, Maura Beth. For some reason, I can’t seem to even post on your blog. I’m having some bugs with my site, but my IT guru is working on it!

    I just wish my husband would do some volunteer work. He has a nice voice, is compassionate, and he’d be perfect to do this. But he says he’s “not reliable.” I can’t push him into it, but it would be nice to get more men involved. He doesn’t do much except crossword puzzles!

    Reply
  7. Maura Beth Brennan

    Wanda, I feel sure a few comments from you have shown up on my blog. I make comments on everyone’s sites every day, too, and I swear sometimes it seems like they just disappear. I hope most of us are still sane when this 30 days are over!

    Reply
  8. Donna Atwood Manobianco

    Wanda, those kids are LUCKY to have you in their classroom! Through your words, I can feel the joy they bring to you and you to them. Clearly the tennis you play is indoors. I used to work out at the Guilderland YMCA. I still miss that indoor track.

    Best wishes!

    Donna M Atwood
    D M Atwood
    https://www.dmatwood.com

    Reply
  9. Shirley Harris-Slaughter

    Wanda you are a wonderful woman of service. Volunteerism is being of service. I mentored a group at my middle school once, so I understand the connection you get with your students. I can’t put it into words but its very satisfying. Thank you for sharing a little bit more about you.

    Reply

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