So, as it happens, I have already had a three-day break in my writing but I had at least been writing or busy with other work (life happens they say) so today I wanted to share one of those days with you. I substituted as a kindergarten teacher at KIPP Austin, a charter school (public schools that have the flexibility to adapt to the educational needs of individual students). KIPP stands for “Knowledge is Power Program”. Pretty cool, I must say.
The usual night owl that I am, getting to work at 7 a.m. with commute (driving) involved was quite an experience in itself. I woke up dark and early 🙂 and really wished I could hop on a bus or a train to my destination.
Anyway, I was served the role of a floater so it meant helping out where ever I was needed. I was in three different kindergarten classes and helped maintain order during breakfast and lunchtime. The children kept me on my toes. Helping students answer their additions and subtractions and assignments on associating colors with numbers was quite a genius way of teaching. The kids were sweet, enthusiastic, full of energy, and I am sure that I saw as many emotions from them as the colors of a rainbow. Being with children not as a mom but as a teacher was very empowering and taxing at the same time.
Proud bilinguals, the kids quizzed on my Spanish speaking ability: uno, dos,…. and hola! For students when substitute teachers (strangers) take over the class, it is never an ordinary day, I guess. But I was quite amazed at how students responded to the directions of teachers, knew their circles, tables, groups, got excited as they transitioned through different classes and different spaces. These were kindergarten students, 5 year olds.
The take away from my experience of the school was not that the majority of the students were from under served communities (KIPP’s target population) but the fact that the school environment is focused on learning, and kids are expected to conduct themselves in manners consistent with: Integrity • Community • Tenacity • Courage • Curiosity (KIPP).
These five words could be seen in every classroom and in every shared spaces. Students from Kindergarten to High School are expected to conduct themselves accordingly. Further, the opportunity to quality education and high standards and expectations set for the students to continue their educational journey through college and beyond is empowering and impressive to say the least.
So, this journey and this experience has both a personal and professional significance to me. As I continue on in my journey, education has and will always play a great role, experiencing K-12 education fits right in.
Personally, as someone who went through college in a different country and a different system, it was very important that I have a good understanding of the educational system here so that I can contribute to my child’s learning and development like my parents did to mine. There will be that time when mine like other children will be able to choose their own path but leading them to take informed decisions will depend on the foundation and on accurate information of different choices.
Here’s to adding one more experience to my experience portfolio.