Twice this week, my new boss has told me, "We are so excited to have you here."
The first time was on Wednesday, as I wheeled my cart (I've been loosely calling it Meg's Mobile Music in my head) across the street to the church where our kindergarten classes have been meeting. The whole school is in the middle of some growing pains, and the addition of several portables in January will be welcome for everyone, including Yours Truly, who will have a sparkling, beautiful portable all to herself.
But for now, I wheel my noisy cart, which on Wednesday had a tambourine clattering loudly, and I grinned sheepishly at Mrs. Principal as I approached. "I'm the noisy teacher!" I said, as she smiled back at me.
We got chatting for a few minutes, as parents dropped the tiny kinders off for their second week of school. I told her how on Monday, I got my first random student hug, and how it reminded me just how much I love this age group. Of course, I loved my high school students, too--and I was extremely fortunate to have some truly marvelous kids--but there is nothing quite like having a small kid hug you as you wheel your cart down the hallway. It's not terribly convenient, of course, to be hugged mid-walk, but it's sweet. I'm only two weeks in, and the kids love the music teacher.
Yesterday, as I finalized a few details with Mrs. Principal before meeting my Friday Band class for the first time, she mentioned again how excited she is. The day before, she had been in a principal meeting for the district, and a couple of other principals were lamenting that they haven't had any luck finding music teachers. "I sat there thinking, 'Oooh, I'm so lucky!! I've got a great one!' and then I felt bad, because I couldn't share it!"
It feels good to get the praise so early, and I do, indeed, like the school so far. I like what I'm doing--it's a great mix of grade levels, and I've got enough variety in the lesson planning between grade levels that I'll really only do each lesson 2-3 times. Some grade levels have two classes, some have three.
I also have a lot of freedom in my planning, because I'm incorporating the themes the classroom teachers are using. Fourth grade is learning about sound waves, so I've had my head together with the teachers to find ways I can supplement what they're doing during my time with the kids. We're talking about having them build simple instruments, and for an art component, I'm going to have them draw sound waves.
The third grade is talking about California Native Americans, so I will have them listen to some sample songs that I bought on Amazon, and we will look at pictures of rock paintings by the Chumash tribe, and discuss what the symbols meant. Each student will get a coloring page (hilariously, there exists a coloring page of a rock) and they will be encouraged to draw some of the symbols that have meaning to them on their rock.
This is just a sample of what I'm doing. I find that my forty-five minute VAPA periods fly by, and I rarely sit (except, this week, to read "The Remarkable Farkle McBride" to my younger classes--an old favorite of mine, by the brilliant John Lithgow). My prep period flies by, too, as I sit at my desk in the library working on the brand-new (touch screen!!) laptop I was issued this week, listening to Pandora through my earbuds, pausing it occasionally to listen to a sample of a children's song on YouTube or Songs For Teaching.
Of course, these busy days have me exhausted each night, but there's nothing wrong with that. I'm still getting my workouts in, and I'm satisfied by what I do. I'm truly lucky to be able to make a living doing something I love.