Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm not smarter than a Kindergartener

Luke's school is very demanding on parent volunteers. Basically, you have to volunteer. They keep track of it and force you into it. They harass you until you cave. But . . . they have an amazing school and that is why we're there, so I should just shut up about it, but of course I won't. I have to bitch and get it out of my system.

On Luke's first day of school, he came home with a folder FULL of fliers advertising the twenty-something different volunteer committees I could join or contribute to. Unfortunately, you can't just write a check and fulfill this duty (although I also wrote about eight checks that first week for various different purposes). So, I choose a couple of things to volunteer for. I really, really, really wanted to be a homeroom mom, but I am smart enough to know that I can't possibly contribute the time that such a position requires so I tossed that flier in the trash.

I decided I would volunteer to participate in Science Lab. This is a once a month commitment to help with the kids' science lab - how hard could that be for Kindergarteners, right? I signed Chuck up for the Grounds Committee which keeps up the grounds around the school by watering and grooming the landscape and playgrounds. I really thought schools had a whole maintenance arm of the school district to provide such services, but apparently I am either (1) wrong or (2) misunderstanding of how much better the parents want our school to look than the other schools in the district. Chuck has not done a damn thing for his committee because (a) all the other parents quickly jump on any e-mails indicating that the grounds need work so there is nothing left for him to do and (b) it has rained so much that there is no need to water anything.

So anyway, I received my first e-mail letting me know that the first science lab was coming up last month. I was a bit confused at first because the email indicated that I would be in charge of teaching an entire section of the lab on my own. I stopped, reread the email, and confirmed that yes, I was supposed to actually learn the material and teach it to the kids. This directly contradicted my understanding that I would be there to lend a hand passing out papers or holding up pictures while the teacher taught the class. Again, I braced myself and thought, "No big deal. This is kindergarten. How hard can it be?" Uh, let me answer that - it was much harder than I thought it would be.

The topic for Science Lab in October was magnets. No big deal. They stick to metal. That was the extent of my knowledge on magnets. That was it. Well, the Science Lab curriculum for Luke's Kindergarten class actually extended into a discussion of electromagnetism. "What?" you ask. Me, "Yes, ELECTROMAGNETISM." What the hell are our kids learning?! I don't remember ever learning about electromagnetism! What kind of half-ass school did I go to? Anyway, I spent Monday night studying up on magnets so that I wouldn't look like a fool the next day. There are usually five different tables and the kids learn something about the topic of the day at each table. I was at table 2 (should have been at table 1 where they just explain that magnets stick to things), and I had to explain that magnets have poles, the earth is a big magnet, and that the opposite poles attract and the same poles will repel. I also had to describe and show them the different types of magnets. You ask, "there are different types?" Me, "Yes, cylindrical, round, bar, etc." So anyway, I sat at table two and "taught" four to five kids at a time this little bit about magnets and showed them with real magnets how it all worked. I had to do this FIVE times in one hour with only about 5-7 minutes to explain all this while reminding them to pay attention and stop touching things. Teachers are freakin' amazing!

This month, the Science lab topic was whales. There are five different tables that the children rotate to in small groups. I had table number three and it is the most jam-packed table because I had to teach them that there are two types of whales: toothed and baleen. I went on to show them teeth, baleen, how it works, what they eat, etc. Then I had to teach them that whales are mammals (which they all already knew) and that they migrate in order to give birth. They also have a quick little worksheet that they have to fill out in this small time frame. Here are some pictures of the lab. There are more, but they are of other people's kids, so I tried to respect their privacy.

Me teaching (when Luke was at my table)

Me teaching
(yes, I blocked out one of the kid's faces with a whale)

Luke learning at another table

Luke wearing the whale outfit they
made at another table

I can't wait until next month when I will find out how inept I am in yet another Kindergarten subject matter and have to attempt to teach the little ruffians about it.


Jess said...

I am jealous of your kindergarten experience. Is this a public school?

Theresa said...

Public. I can't figure out why I would ever pay for private school when I have this available via my tax dollars.

Mom said...

Great pictures. I am glad you are teaching instead of me. I would have to study real hard to be able to teach. Sometimes I think the kids are more educated than us.

Kelly said...

welcome to my world!!! there are things my students ask me that I have no idea what the answer is!! it is amazing what kiddos know these days....I don't EVER remember learning some of the things I teach my 2nd graders!
keep up the great work- and I hope you can enjoy your volunteering at the school. (chuck can come to my school any day to "maintain" the property :)

The Potters said...

This is so funny to me. Ah, I'm so happy that I only have a toddler right now. ;) You look super cute as a teacher! Way to go!