Finally happened……sigh


There is a kind of light that crosses the face of a person when you say you are a Kindergarten Teacher. Their eyes soften and a slight smile teases the corners of their lips. They think about those milk and cookie days of painting and clay, ABCs and crayons, holding hands and nap times. They think of little kids in new shoes, with wide open eyes and hopeful hearts. They think you must have a delightful time ‘playing’ all day. For twenty years I saw that look when ever people asked me what it is that I ‘do’. It’s a different kind of look than you get when you say you are a second grade teacher or a fifth grade teacher. It’s is definitely different from the look you get when you say you teach high school…or heaven forbid… middle school. Those looks border on the wonder if you are, in fact, absolutely nuts.

Nothing, however, nothing compares with the look I received the other day, when someone at a campground asked what I taught. After twenty years of teaching Kindergarten and first grade, my response about my new position was ‘Oh, I am one of the the Informational Technology Teachers in my school.’ A mouth dropped open and the eyes sort of glazed over. The question in them could only be described as ‘what the h…?’ It wasn’t until I restated and explained that I would be teaching computer skills in a lab setting to Kindergarten through fifth graders that the glazed look cleared. But the question remained. What the heck does a Computer Lab Teacher do?

I have been pondering that myself all summer long. I am not computer illiterate by any means. When I taught first graders on a year round program, the computer lab was the only air conditioned room in our building. Of COURSE we spent an hour a day in there….keeping cool….and using the computers to research and compile an animal report as a final project for the summer. I did that for six years. I was manupulating the lab in an educational setting long before many of my teaching partners had conquered their fear of those huge humming machines. And now, feeling like the dinosaur that I am, I am surrounded by much younger teaching partners who have never taught without a computer in their classroom. And most of the children that I will be teaching have never spent a day without computer contact of some sort. I’m sure that many of them even have their own computers. I would be crazy not to admit that they probably know more about them than I do.

I have studied the curriculum pages. Compared to what I have gotten for other subjects for other grade levels, it’s pretty concise. I have no manual or instructions to follow. I have, however, sorted out a few things sucessfully. We will practice our typing skills. We will explore word processing programs and practices. We will create multi-media power point projects. We will explore web sites for information and graphic sites for pictures. We will learn how to harness the World Wide Web and apply it to our elementary school needs.

I think the most important part of my job in the coming year will not be inspiring enthusiasm for learning as it has been in the past. Heck, flipping on the whirring machine will be enough to do that. No, my most basic responsibility will be teaching my students to be responsible about what they use those computers to do. I will be teaching them to sort and compile appropriate information and put it to use in the way they need it. We will be learning to be responsible with this very huge learning tool that they are being given access to. Have some fun? Of course. It’s going to be a learning experience for all of us.

Am I nervous? Darn tootin’. I always am at the beginning of a new school year. Am I excited? Definitely. I always am at the beginning of a new school year. And I am looking forward to the challenge of new information and a new learning process. It’s just those darn older kids that are scaring me to death. Haven’t had to deal with anyone over three feet tall in a long while. I am wondering if stickers and hand stamps are going to still be enough to keep them in line. But when all else fails, my daughter tells me that candy is a good incentive. Heh. Let the school buses roll! I am on my way for a mega sized sack of Jolly Ranchers…..

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