It’s hard to put into words what happens in a classroom in the course of a year. Especially a kindergarten classroom. For many children, this is their first experience away from home, from their place of comfort and security—the place where they can always be themselves.
But teachers are a special breed—especially teachers of littles.
And they step into this substitute role with the biggest hearts and the most love to give. They take this unknown, intimidating place and then transform it into a magical, wondrous adventure. A classroom, a community, a family. A place where these little people can start to discover who they are and how they will fit into this new and complex world. A place that begins to feel like a home away from home.
Teachers work hard to find that balance between letting them be little and teaching them what it means to grow up. For some, this is the first time they’ve been told no, been asked to be independent or to help teach someone else something new. For others, this is the first time they’ve been shown what it means to be safe, to be heard, or even to be shown love.
Somehow, teachers manage to take this room full of 5-year-olds and teach them how to be.
How to be readers, mathematicians, and writers. How to be scientists, athletes, and artists. How to be classmates and citizens. How to share and take turns. And how to be a friend. They teach empathy, kindness, boundaries, and responsibility, how to handle big feelings, and how to deal with heartaches and sadness. They teach them all the nuances of what it means to be a part of something bigger than themselves—and, at the same time, that it’s also OK to just be themselves.
In this brief moment in time—where small, extraordinary things are happening in what will end up being just a fragment of the big picture of their life—kindergarten is their whole world.
And their teachers, well, they get to be at the center of it all.
Teachers love with a ferocity that is unparalleled. So saying goodbye is hard. Some days are amazing. Some days are excruciating. But these are the moments that make a classroom a family.
My hope is that they will remember that once, for a brief moment in time, in a magical place called kindergarten, when I was your teacher and you were five, we shared a year together—we were a classroom family.
And in that moment, that was enough.