Tuesday, February 06, 2007

100th Day Polka

Yesterday was the 100th day of school. Our elementary school makes a big deal out of it. Phoebe's class made a 100th Day of School snack mix. Everybody brought 100 of something. She brought Goldfish crackers. Mo's class made necklaces with 100 Fruit Loops on a string and paper hats covered in 100 stickers.

A couple weeks ago I went to Ollie's class (he goes to pre-school at the elementary school, so they are all in the same building, which is right across the street from our house--sweet!)to make vanilla ice cream for snack and I got to just hang out and help with activities. I'm a room mother for Phoebe's class so I get to be in there for all the holiday parties. Plus I chaperoned a field trip this fall. But I hadn't spent anytime in Mo's class.

So, I sent a note to his teacher asking if I could come in some afternoon to visit--preferably to help with something, rather than just sit and spy. She asked if I'd do a song for the 100th Day. This was right up my alley. I ended up writing my first composition solely for accordion: The 100th Day Polka. Any accordion polka is slightly annoying, but this one with it's silly words and simple melody for kindergartners gets stuck in your brain and polkas round and round until you want to scream. It was perfect for the occasion.

It was a really fun afternoon, but more than I bargained for. I ended up helping with a birthday celebration and then singing random songs and, basically, entertaining the kids while the teacher went to the bathroom and to the office. Which was great. A para educator came in when it was just me and the kids and couldn't figure out who I was or why I was leading the class. Then it was time for recess, so I went out to recess. Then it turned out the music teacher was absent with pink eye and there was no sub. So instead of teaching Mo's class the song and leaving (I imagined 20 minutes total, tops) I was there until school let out.

After recess we went down to the music room. I had Mo's class for their 25 minute music lesson. I taught them all about the accordion and taught them the 100th Day Polka. The only other kindergarten-appropriate accordion song I know is jingle bells. So we sang that too. They asked all kinds of questions and it was really fun ("where'd you get it?" on eBay "HEY! That's where I got my shotgun!"). Then, Mo's class left and I stayed and did the same thing with the other kindergarten class. I was the music sub.

I've never considered teaching elementary school. I have always said that, while I like my own kids, I've never really been a fan of little kids. But maybe that's not true. Yesterday made rethink it. It really was fun....exhausting, but fun. And doing music for Vacation Bible School is loads of fun. But that's all music and I can't really be a music teacher. I think one has to be able to read music to do that. Really, teaching a room full of six-year-olds is enjoyable. They're so enthusiastic and interested.

The idea of teaching high school English seems more appealing. Talking books with teenagers? Turning them onto the joys of literature and writing? Heck yeah.

But then I wondered: maybe it's too late to inspire them in high school. Maybe in teaching high school I'll miss that boat. Maybe by high school they've already made up their minds...or had them made up by proxy...but that's such a pessimistic view. Isn't that just an awful thought? I should be shamed. I had great teachers in high school who I really learned from and inspired by, but I was a pretty willing student (except math--sorry Mr Sharpe)...probably because I had great elementary school teachers. Is it the chicken or the egg, folks?


Angela said...

or--maybe they just need an energetic teacher to get them inspired about the subject matter!It sounds like you have such a passion for books and maybe you can pass that on to the students. I loved reading as a child (esp Little House on the Prarie :). It just seems that between work and small child that I do seem to push it off to the side. Maybe I will have a little more time when she is older. Anyway, I think you would be great with either age group, but if your passion is there for the older ones then you should give it all you've got!

emdunbar said...

Hey, Angela! I think I will stick with high school. It was fun to think about it for a minute though. Hope you are well!

Hope said...

Having taught high school, I would recommend it to anyone. They are lots of fun to teach and will jump on board if you lead them and support them in what they're learning. The off side is that with the interested students come others who are not so interested and finding the patience and to greet them every day with unconditional love even if they haven't turned in anything all semester can be a challenge. it's good stuff.