Dear Teacher on the Tired Days,
It’s all right, I know how you feel.
Let me tell you an experience so that you know I feel you.
Last month, I was asked to be a substitute teacher at our local preschool and handle the toddlers (1.5-2.4) class. It was my first time to handle a class that was that young. When you think about handling a baby class, it might seem sooo easy. There are no “real” academics involved, no papers, no homework to check, and no “real” lesson plans.
But as soon as the Clean Up Song started, indicating that class was about to start, I was in deep, deep pressure I wanted to cry right then and there. There were toddlers who didn’t want to separate from their moms, parents who were watching from the glass window, children throwing toys around, yadda yadda. I came to class prepared–with my materials and activities, but I wasn’t prepared for them.
I took this job not really knowing how different it would be from my middle school class. I honestly thought “How bad could it be? Middle School is the most challenging anyway, because children are on puberty and in the phase of discovering what and who they like.” But my was it way, way different, and way more difficult!
Have you ever stood in front of a classroom, counting from 1-10 to yourself, thinking what should I do now? I have, and it was the worst day of my teaching life.
I cried after class as soon as I got to my car. I dreaded going back to school the next day. When I got home, I crashed and woke up in the middle of the night. Even if it was just 2.5hrs, I was dead tired. I got more tired when I woke up cause I dreamt of being back in the classroom with more crying toddlers! It was the worst. It was like that for the first 3 days.
Then I realized, these toddlers are looking up to me. I was the only figure that they are going to listen to. So I did my research that night and came to school the next day with a gun that blew bubbles and hi5 videos.
The bubbles caught their attention, the hi5 videos made them want to dance. I danced with them, not for them. I played with them and did my activities with them. They needed to trust me so I showed them that they could. It was an on-going process of trust and learning for that whole month. Eventually, the days got better and the month ended with lots of love and laughter. They didn’t want to see me go!
Going to pre-school, I thought “How hard can this be? I’m a natural at teaching!” Coming out of preschool, I realized, “No one is born a toddler teacher.”
A Sometimes Tired Teacher