I believe that children are far more capable than we assume. Never would I have imagined that I would be teaching in a toddler classroom. Throughout my life I knew I wanted to be a teacher. But my plan was to teach children that are older and can “take care of themselves” without needing much guidance. I can give them directions and they can follow them, asking questions if needed along the way. I have been placed into a preschool classroom. This age is fun. The children reminded me of my carefree niece and nephew. Just young enough to have a wild and free imagination, but can start to fully grasp responsibilities and follow directions. Children this age were truly starting to understand how they fit into the world. To me this was the perfect age to teach. I thought to myself, I can see myself in a preschool or kindergarten classroom. But that was not what happened.
When I was just a semester from graduating college, I started to apply to schools. I accepted a job to be in a preschool classroom teacher. I felt as if I was on top of the world, but I knew something was missing. Then I came across a listing of a Toddler Room Lead Teacher. I thought to myself again, I mean I have taken an infant toddler class, but do I want to teach this age? How would I make a lesson plan? How would I go about teaching them? Despite saying that to myself I applied anyway. I went through the whole process again. The interview, the sharing of my work and projects, and accepting the job. After sitting in the Director’s office she said to me, “Let’s go take a look into the classroom”. I followed her into the classroom and saw something I was surprised to see. A teacher said, “Walk over to the sink and up the stairs so we can wash our hands”. The child walked up the stairs and started the water waiting for the teacher to follow. That was the first thing I saw when I walked into my new classroom. I again thought, wow I can’t believe that a one year old could fully understand what the teacher just instructed. I knew at that point I had made the right decision.
When I got home I started to look through my books to see what other things these children could master. My director gave me a look into their lesson plans that go every two weeks. They were far more advanced than I thought they would be. Using magnifying glasses to look at the texture of items, exploring magnets, using tongs to pick up various sized items. But all of these were developmentally appropriate. They are learning cause and effect, expanding fine motor skills, and using their senses. When I got into the classroom and the children started to fully warm up to me. I watched another amazing discovery happen. Knowing just how capable children are, we want them to be as independent as possible. When entering the classroom children take off their coats, bring their bag to their cubby and take out their lunch, water, and milk. This was a new experience for some children who just entered the classroom. But to my surprise a child watched closely at what other children were doing. They grabbed their water bottle and lunchbox and walked it over to the fridge. With just a few repetitive actions and guidance from the teacher and the child’s peers, they are learning just how capable they are. I could teach a toddler classroom for a long time just to watch these amazing connections happen. Throughout the chaos of the classroom, children are always learning.