The daily musings of a substitute teacher in East Central Illinois.



Today I was a kindergarten teacher at Dr. Howard Elementary in Champaign. I’ve always enjoyed my work at Dr. Howard. The classes are smaller, which makes it easier to work with the students in a meaningful way, and the faculty and staff are extremely supportive. However, it was still kindergarten.

You may have noticed that I have not yet taught kindergarten this year. There is a reason for that. I don’t really like teaching kindergarten. Don’t get me wrong: I love young children. They are typically sweet, innocent, and fun. They have a great desire to learn, and they usually want to please their teachers. My dislike for kindergarten is not the students; it is the subject matter. I am just not thrilled with teaching the calendar, counting from 1 to 103, and discussing the weather. I also prefer it when students are able to engage is abstract thinking and higher level thinking.

Another reason I avoid kindergarten assignments is the fact that children in kindergarten have a nasty habit of wiping their noses on everything except tissues. I’m not usually a germaphobe, but I prefer it when people don’t use books, pencils, palms, fingers, and me as tissues.

So why did I accept the assignment in the first place? The answer is quite simple: I didn’t. The teacher for whom I was subbing used to teach 2nd grade, and she was still listed in the system as a 2nd grade teacher. My first major substituting assignment in Champaign was teaching 2nd grade at Dr. Howard, and I still have a great relationship with the teacher of that class. So I was looking forward to working with her again. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I heard that I was actually teaching kindergarten today!

Despite all this, I actually had a fairly pleasant day. Most of the kids were really helpful and we had a fun time. Only a few boys caused frequent disruptions. My favourite part of the day was when we had an impromptu lesson on appreciating one another’s differences. It came up when one of the boys who causes frequent disruptions made some comment about my curly hair and started laughing about it. I pointed out that we are all different: straight hair, curly hair, brown hair, black hair, blond hair, brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes, hazel eyes, light skin, dark skin, tall, short. I ended the lesson by asking what they would think if everyone looked alike. They all agreed it would be boring and confusing.

I’m glad that I had a great day with a kindergarten class, but I will probably avoid accepting such assignments. I just prefer to work with the upper primary/intermediate students.