May 13, 2022 by Carley Gant
My six word memoir: “August: uncharted territory. May: conquered kindergarten!”
Picture it: It’s your 18th year of education and you’ve managed to successfully avoid the one grade level that instantly sends you into a panic….kindergarten. Then one day in August, before school begins, it happens. You’re teaching kindergarten! Yikes! Que the frightened, panic-stricken anxiety as I enter this unchartered territory!
This year, I was the only interventionist at my school qualified to provide reading intervention to kindergarten. I’d be lying if I said that fear and anxiety did not immediately set in! Kindergarten has always been that one grade level that I was completely ok with not having taught. Kindergarteners are so young and so full of energy! They are experiencing many firsts as well – their first time in school, first time away from their parents or guardians all day, first time learning English, first time making friends, first time learning letters and numbers, etc. All of these were reasons why kindergarten always laid miles outside of my comfort zone.
When I began seeing my students, I was extremely nervous. The pressure of having to figure out how to effectively teach in such short segments while making it fun and engaging for early childhood learners was a whole new challenge. I am proud to say that as the year went on, my Kindergarteners gave me the confidence to embrace their energy and incorporate it into our small group lessons. I finally let go of my anxiety and nerves and embraced the excitement that my students brought to school each morning. We have spent the year learning our letter names and sounds by incorporating poems, songs, dancing, and chanting.
Through determination, an abundance of patience and grace (mainly with myself), and supportive teammates, I was able to overcome all of my anxiety and fears. I learned just as much from the students as they have from me. I tell them repeatedly that we are learning Kindergarten together! It has been so invigorating to see these students blossom into the amazing and talented learners that they are becoming. The grade level I always feared, became the grade level that is now one of my favorites to teach! My students have shown me that it is ok to burst through my comfort zone and to face new challenges head on! Together, my 21 students and I conquered Kindergarten!
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Carley Gant is a veteran educator of 18 years. She is an RTI Coordinator and Reading Interventionist for Greenville County Schools. Her passion for working with bilingual students resulted in her earning additional ESOL and Literacy certifications. She uses those skills daily to make learning fun and enjoyable.