Friday, November 6, 2009

NaBloPoMo - November 6

Today I attended a workshop in Longview. Every year our school goes to this workshop for training hours. I usually love it. I was VERY leary about today's workshop because, well... I don't SIT well. I fidget. I wiggle & squirm. I cross & uncross my legs. I dig in my purse. When we found out that this year's conference was to be put on by one lady, I sighed. I love my breakout sessions. I enjoy the classes because I can move from one room to the next & I can choose to move on if one teacher is a bore. So I whined. I posted about it here & on Facebook. Seriously? ONE lady is going to do the entire day? All eight hours? And she's going to hold my attention the whole time? I'm not going to get bored & squirm? Yeah...I doubt it. Add to that the fact that I'd have to get up at 5-something this morning to make the drive over there. Really....if you wake up at a time that starts with a 5, it's just wrong. Oh yeah, I sure wasn't exhibiting the traits of Phillipians 2:14.

When we got there today, we registered, got our little paper notebooks with all the handouts for the day & went to find our seat in the sanctuary of Mobberly Baptist Church. Ironically, we were there for the Methodist Preschool Teachers Workshop. (Sorry, had to mention that....I found it funny.) And I suppose, just as ironic, I am neither Methodist nor do I teach at a Methodist school. It's just where we go each year for training. So anyway....we got seated & I spied the stage, full of tables of things that I suspected an "Ooey Gooey lady" would use to teach. (That's the speaker's nickname!) Bowls, paints, Ooblick, Flubber, Clean Mud....all sort of things that crazy hands-on teachers like me love. But again, really... could fun science experiments hold my attention all day long?

Just as a sample of what we were greeted with, check out this link. It's the OoeyGooey Lady's youtube channel. Watch the one called the playdough story. Then watch the Heather story. And the trashman story. And the spiraling brain one is hilarious. From the moment she started speaking (and honestly, bouncing all over the stage....can you say "bumblebee on crack"?), she had my attention. I laughed so hard that I nearly cried several times. I saw better physical comedy today than I've seen on Comedy Central in a long time. But just as strong as those moments of great humor were the moments of sweet, raw emotion that also made me tear up. She talked about "crystalizing moments"....those moments when a child has an emotional connection to something YOU (as a teacher) do that makes them forever remember you & what they learned from you.

Lisa talked about her own 'crystalizing moment". She went to a preschool in Miss Mary's home when she was 3 years old. A couple weeks before school started, Miss Mary made a phone call to Lisa's mom to find out what Lisa's favorite snack was in hopes to make her first day at school smooth. When Lisa arrived on her first day & was greeted by the sweet woman who had her very favorite snack ready for her, it struck a special place in her heart -- knowing that this lady was going out of her way to make Lisa comfortable & feel safe is the reason Lisa gives for why she teaches. It stuck in her mind and forever made her feel like she wanted to do the same for other children.

She talked about a teacher friend of hers who had a young man call her to tell her "I do what I do because of YOU." (The boy became an archaeologist because he remembered digging in the sandbox filled with chicken bones & toys, intentionally buried there during dinosaur week.) I can only imagine how amazing that would feel to get a phone call like that one day. I hope to be so blessed one day. It made my heart flutter to even think of that.

She talked about a million other things, but one other especially cool thing she shared about early childhood teaching is music. I am not the music teacher at our school & I don't sing well, but I do try to incorporate music & songs into my classroom. (Thank God I can shut my classroom door.) She talked about going to nursing homes & visiting alzheimer's patients and watching them sing along to Christmas carols & old hymns when they don't remember their spouse or children. Somehow, the songs we learn early in life stick in our brains, even if we don't know they're there. She told a story of an adult woman who met her birth mom and shared a song with her that she'd learned to play on the guitar. The birthmother asked where she learned the song & the daughter told her that she'd heard a street musician playing it & was so moved by it that she learned it herself. The birthmom began to cry & told her "That's the song I was learning to play when I was pregnant with you! I played it over & over." Wow. To realize the impact of music on the minds of the kids I work with. Convicting.

I'll close with this thought that Lisa Murphy (the ooey gooey lady) shared today that struck deeply. Her keynote address was titled "What if this was their only day with you?". Her point was not to focus on morbidity, but to realize that things happen....and you never know. What if today was the only day you got to be a part of their lives? Are you making an impact that you can live with if something were to happen? Will you regret fussing at Johnny for flying his action figure across the room & knocking over Suzy's blocks? Will you regret growling at the kids for not getting into a straight line quickly? Will you regret the way you interacted with Johnathan because he wasn't being nice to Stacy?

Ultimately, as a teacher (and as a parent), my prayer is & has always been that God would give me at least ONE special moment with each child every day. It may only last for 2 minutes, but I want to build memories with each of the kids. Maybe they learned what a scarecrow is & why we put them in the garden....or maybe they know that Mrs. Liz loves them because they sat in my lap while I read a story....or maybe they learned how to calmly talk through a conflict because Mrs. Liz sat down beside them & gave them appropriate words to say. Maybe they didn't learn anything social or academic that day, but they were hugged 50 times and they left school feeling encouraged. One of my sweetest desires in teaching is that the kids feel loved & special.

Sure, I want them to learn and grow and mature and develop skills in my classroom. I want them to leave my room knowing their shapes & colors and beginning to recognize letters and knowing how to hop on one foot and having developed enough fine motor skills that they can progress onto pencil grips in Pre-K. I want them to learn about all the fun things we study in our class all year long. But more than all that, I want them to feel secure & safe & loved when they're with me. I want to be a part of their life for that 1 year I have them in my room. I want to hear sweet stories from moms telling me later on that they included me in their bedtime prayers. I want to be on the list of people who get called when they're having their tonsils removed--and I want to be able to go over & drop off balloons & icecream afterward. I want to go to soccer games & recitals & get a phone call when they're trying to explain something we learned at school to mom in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. Today's workshop affirmed my love of teaching and my love of teaching THIS particular age group. I keep toying with whether or not to go back to school & finish my degree & go into "big school" teaching, but I have a thousand reasons why that doesn't seem the least bit fun to me. There is something immensely special about teaching preschoolers. I loveeee what I do and going to a workshop like the one I attended today reminds me of all the things I love about it.

Thank you, Lisa Murphy. Can we be best friends forever?


Amber said...

Okay Liz. First of all, you made me cry. Second, you reminded me why I loved teaching preschool and why I love being a mother to preschoolers. Third, you made me laugh like crazy with the youtube clips... I watched them all! :) Thanks girl! I needed those reminders this morning as I have spent the last 2 hours frustrated with toddlers who refuse to sleep, refuse to potty, tear pop tarts into microscopic pieces and scatter them around the dining room, and feed handfulls of sweet tarts to the dog just in hopes of seeing the poor thing puke (because they think it's funny). Just when I thought I was about to lose it, your post saved the day. Thank you!

Kate said...

Loved hearing your heart for preschoolers! We're so blessed to have you as our teacher!