Sometimes after I've done something for the first time I reflect on how that experience has changed me. Like never again will I NOT know what sheep liver shish-kebabs taste like. And never again will I NOT know what Dubai feels and looks like; or Paris, or Essaouaira. Never again will I not know how it feels to be a Moroccan bride. And now, never again will I not know what it's like to teach Kindergartners.
To be honest, I've been eat-sleep-thinking Kindergarten for what seems like 24 hours a day for more than two weeks now. Even in my dreams I'm planning classes or seeing what happens when they don't go right! The week before school started was really the ONLY time we had to prepare, and with absolutely bare-minimum materials, so it was full steam-ahead... and then Monday morning arrived! But we made it to day one, and now we've made it through week one as well!
I'm teaching a lovely little class of 5-year-olds. There are only 6 of them for the moment, but on Monday I'm getting another, and more people are coming every day to check the school out. Just in this past week enrollment jumped from 30 to 40 students! Now that the construction is finishing up (note that present continuous tense there...) and classrooms are set up, its easier for people to see the place as a functioning school! We still don't have all the materials and furniture coming—our desks, tables, chairs and bookshelves are all borrowed from our Arabic-language sister school right now—but we've been able to make do quite nicely.
Here's a glimpse at my classroom as it looked after the first day at school. It's a bit empty, but again, more materials are on their way. And this afternoon there were already quite a few more things on the walls!
This year most of the Kindergarten curriculum will be focused on EFL, with a heavy dose of literacy, but of course Kindergarten is a really important year and I need to include a lot of time for the development of other skills too—from fine motor to math to social. I'm very happy I did so much research and reading into Kindergarten over the summer because I don't feel over my head, just excited and ready for a challenge! I don't actually have an English textbook for my class yet (it's on order), but that's where my EFL experience really comes in handy, because I've had plenty of ideas to fill up the time.
I'm in charge of the Pre-K and K department of the school, and during the week before school I not only had to set up my room and get materials for it, but also for the quiet/naptime room, the play room (which is the arrival/dismissal waiting area for all the kids at this point, while numbers are small and construction is on-going), and the art room. I also will have an office, but while we wait for furniture it's doubling as a storage closet!
|The play room|
These past two weeks have been full of challenges and frustrations, but have also been a wonderful learning experience and it has been lovely getting to know my kids this week! I wish I could post some of the fantastic pictures I've taken of them so far, but won't for obvious privacy issues, so you'll just have to take my word for it that they're beyond adorable. They're all quite different developmentally though, and having such a small class is great because I already know so much about each of them! I'll be able to really tailor our studies this year to their needs, which is so important and motivating for me.
|The ball pit is, obviously, a HUGE favorite.|
On top of that, the administration side of my job is interesting as well—making schedules, liaising between teachers and admin, doing a fair bit of recruiting as well as some basic organization/shopping has been really invigorating.
Between the other K-section teachers and I, we're taking care of Art, Music and PE for the Pre-K and K kids in the afternoons. I'm doing art every two weeks (during the other week it's the Arabic teacher who will do art for them, in Arabic) which will be fun. Seeing at my mom has been teaching art for years at homeschool co-ops, and the Pre-K teacher's mom is a music teacher, it all works out pretty well! This week we weren't going to do any of those extracurriculars, but the 2nd grade teacher shared this hand-print flower project with us, so I dove right in and we did it on Tuesday. The kiddos did the gluing, so it's not as flower-like as it could be, but it's still pretty dang cute!
Despite ongoing construction, the lack of materials and some other constraints, I'm really looking forward to a great year, and really excited not only about the kids I get to work with, but also my fellow teachers! We have a great team of high-caliber English teachers, and all of us have been able to collaborate and get along really well, which is a huge plus. Here's hoping things only get better from here!