Being a preschool teacher sounds like it would be easy. Reviewing colors, shapes, and songs everyday, what could be simpler? Coming into this year, I expected my days to be spent playing with Legos and counting to ten. My reality, however, has been a completely different experience.
To say that we preschool teachers are on our feet all day is an understatement. I learned pretty quickly to wear comfortable shoes, and expect to get messy. With two teachers, twenty-three 3 year olds, and a full day’s work to accomplish (breakfast, lunch, snack, circle time, centers, religion, story time, recess, and nap), some days can seem to get a little chaotic. With some students who do not speak English and some students who have never been to school before, the challenges that accompany each day can vary.
I can definitely say that it takes serious energy to spend all day every day with three year olds.
As this volunteer year progressed, I really began to discover what this year was about. Trying to be present in every moment with every student, and using each interaction as an opportunity to try and teach them, is something that has really shaped my year. The joy in a student’s face when they say their first words in English as their classmates cheer or finally being able to open their milk carton is something that I will remember long after my AV year. I am constantly reminded day after day to cherish and find joy in the smallest of victories. I am reminded in the simplest of ways that everyone’s differences should be celebrated and that friendship is so important. Something about the innocence and pureness of these tiny people brings me closer to God and reminds me that He is always present. The willingness to help each other, encourage each other, and accept and celebrate their differences gives me hope. These students have taught me about finding the best in challenging circumstances and being grateful and optimistic even when life gives you reasons not to. And the funny thing is, they don’t even realize they are doing it.
So yes, teaching preschool is more than constantly wiping noses and tying shoes. As cliché as it is, these little friends of mine have taught me more and given me more than I could give to them. A truly humbling experience this year has been so far.
Lawrence, MA 2019-2019