Days 3 & 4
Day 2 I Subbed in Middle School and Days 3 and 4 I was as far from Middle School as I could possibly be: preschool. I was lucky enough to get a 2 day job at a preschool as a SPED teacher.
Preschool in Douglas County is integrated. There are regular education kids mixed with SPED kids and they have 2 teachers (one regular education and one SPED) teaching together in one classroom. There is also a SPED Paraprofessional. Preschool is half-day and teachers get to teach 2 classes a day. There is no preschool on Friday.
The two classes that I got to work in had about 12 students in each. Yes, that is 12 kids with 3 adults. Except that the first afternoon there was another service provider (I can’t remember what they did) came to work with kids as well (so 4 adults to 12 kids). On the second day a regular education Paraprofessional was there all day and in the afternoon the Occupational Therapist was there as well (5 adults to 12 kids).
The kids were fairly “normal” preschool kids. The SPED Paraprofessional took charge of the “tough” kids, since they didn’t know me and I didn’t know them. On the second day I was able to give her a break from her “tough” am kid. The “tough” pm kid would have had a meltdown with the change, so I couldn’t help out there.
Most of the two days were spent supervising kids, monitoring one am kid with toileting issues and playing. I got to sit on the floor and read books with kids, play at the messy table with the beans, sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat a zillion times (while rocking the wooden boat), and build with LEGOS. I got to talk with kids about what they were doing. I help reinforce that you can’t learn when you are “red” (meaning super excited or angry) and that you need to be “blue” to learn.
In Illinois, I loved teaching preschool. Leaving AAUW Nursery School was one of the saddest things for me about leaving Illinois. I loved teaching there. I loved the kids, the parents, my co-workers and what I got to do every day. I loved painting and playing with blocks and the messy table. I loved the water table, the sand table, the housekeeping corner (except for clean-up time), playdough and silly putty. I loved singing songs and reading stories. Most of all, I loved working with the kids. It was challenging and there were many nights, especially my first year, when I went home and got a glass of wine and cried. But I was happy to go back the next day. I looked forward to going to work. I was doing something I was good at and I loved.
When I came to Colorado, I looked for a preschool environment that was similar to the one I left. And I couldn’t find it. It didn’t really exist. No one here did play-based learning. And every place I interviewed with was a daycare not a preschool. I decided that teaching preschool in Colorado wasn’t for me. Douglas County School District Preschool is academic and not play-based. But, the kids spend a lot of time playing. I still believe that I made the right decision in not pursuing preschool in Colorado (the school district sends the day-to-day lesson plans to the teacher and you have to follow them), but substituting in preschool was an amazing amount of fun. I laughed, really laughed with the kids. I got to play. I didn’t have to do lesson plans, and I didn’t have to manage the kids long-term. It was a great two days and I would love to go back – short-term. But it was also sad because I realized how much I missed teaching preschool and AAUW. Ann, Shelia, Tia, Ruth Ann, and Denise – I really miss you all! AAUW is an amazing place and one-of-a-kind, don’t forget it!