First grade is my jam. I love the hugs, the lost teeth, the excitement for learning, and the amazing growth first graders make. I love the light in their eye when they realize that they really can read. I love that the S-word to first graders is “stupid” and that accidentally calling me mom is a regular thing. I love that some of them think I live at school, and that on my birthday some thought I was 10 and others 80. But most of all, I love that they are not kindergarteners any more.
Kindergarten is special, the life-time kindergarten teacher at my school reminds us at every single staff meeting and professional development session. Kindergarten teachers are special, too, I believe. Over the course of the school year, they work their magic and by first grade those feral kindergarteners have turned into, well, the first graders that I love.
Once upon a time, when I was starting my teacher ed program, I thought I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. When I told my brother of my plans, he laughed and said, “Why do you need to go to college for that? All you have to do is know how to break graham crackers in half.” I knew he was wrong–and let him know what I thought about his comment–but I had no idea how wrong he actually was! Not long into my program, I realized that I did not want to be a kindergarten teacher after all.
And so, this morning when I saw the email from my principal saying that we had two teachers out without a sub, I signed up to cover the 5th grade class instead of the kindergarten class. But there was a 10 minute slot that needed coverage in kindergarten room, so I said I would do it. I helped them clean up their snack, pick up the floor, line up, and walk down the hall to the gym for P.E. And in those 10 minutes I was reminded of how much I love…first grade!