This year, I have had quite the cheer team at school. Walking down the hallway, supervising at recess, or taking my students somewhere in the school, I am constantly getting waved at, cheered for, and hugged by all my previous students as they frantically flail their extremeties saying “Mlle! Mlle! MLLE! HERE! HIIIIIII!” It’s so great to know I built a strong enough relationship with each of my students that they actually want to talk to me the following school year.
I guess that happens when you teach kindergarten. If you stay at the same school for a few years, like myself, it’s likely that you know more than half of the students at your school. There’s a flip side to this though. My previous students are now someone’s new students. I have a relationship with these students, and their new teacher doesn’t. I know their parents and their new teacher doesn’t. I know what they need to succeed, and their new teacher doesn’t. I hear their new teacher talk about how much work this certain student is going to be, and I cringe. I hear their new teacher talk about how their discipline system isn’t working with this certain new group, and my heart aches. I hear their new teacher talk about all the struggles they foresee for the rest of the school year, and I want to shed a tear.
Don’t these teachers know that these were once my students too? That they were my morning and afternoon? That they were my responsibility throughout the day? That they were my students I had to sometimes discipline? That they were my struggle? And my joy as well?
When I hear negative comments about my previous students, all I want to do is say “Each group of students is unique and have very different needs and you need to lower your expectations and tailor your teaching and learning to them!” I thought this was a fundamental belief, shared among most teachers, but this year I’m beginning to doubt it.
I’m not saying having those students who needed more love, attention, and differenciated learning styles was a walk in the park. It was the complete opposite. I was stressed too. I was exhausted too. And I tried everything too. But the point is, I tried everything. I tried my best. We worked on what we needed to and pushed everything else aside. Isn’t that more important?
Are there other kindergarten teachers who feel the same way about negative comments regarding their previous students?