Thursday, 26 December 2013

How did I get here?

I didn't follow the traditional route to becoming a teacher, I was 29 before I went back to retrain & had spent some time dabbling in student politics, marketing, office management & proof reading. 
However a series of events conspired to get me into a nursery class in 2006. My mum was a teacher and in fact was a nursery principal when she retired (early I better add) in 2006. Her colleague who was acting principal at the time needed a nursery assistant & I had recently lost my job. I am indebted to Christine for having the belief in me to allow me come into her class & be her assistant. Whether she thought I would be a natural merely because my mum was such a great teacher or she was just so desperate she figured anyone with a pulse would do - I got the chance to work in a nursery classroom in February 2006 for a few months. (It actually turned out to be 18 months).
Ice is never just ice when there are children around!  "It's a dinosaur egg"
I never forget that first day about an hour in, I was sitting at the water tray with some children playing with plastic fish & a pirate ship & I clearly remember thinking 'This is the best job ever'! I couldn't believe how much fun it was & I discovered I actually loved being around 3 & 4 year olds. All those years of hearing relatives say "Oh I bet you'll be a teacher like your mum" came back to me. I had been adamant for years that as I was nothing like my mum, of course I wasn't going to be a teacher! So imagine my surprise when I actually found out that I was very like my mum & in fact would be lucky to be half the teacher she was.
My mum - I only wish I had had the chance to work with her, as I now know she was one of the finest nursery teachers ever.
It took me a further 2.5 years before I was accepted on the Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in Primary Education. I knew I wanted to be a nursery teacher but at that time there was no early years PGCE so I had to put my year in learning to be a primary teacher. I graduated in August 2000 & finally had that elusive piece of paper that allowed me to go look for a job as a teacher.

I was fortunate to get a maternity cover in the same nursery where I had got a break as a nursery assistant (so Christine, by now the Principal, had a lot of faith in me) & that first year as a teacher I taught nursery, special needs  Primary 3. I enjoyed teaching in the primary schools but my heart lay in nursery. I was so lucky the following October to begin a temporary contract as nursery teacher in my current school. I never, ever thought I would still be there 12 years later!

I truly believe I have the best job in the world. I get to teach the most enthusiastic students in the school system. Everyday I hear laughter, get hugs & told how great I am!! Nursery children are natural optimists, they believe anything is possible & they rarely give up when they can't succeed at a new task. Some days when I am sitting in the block corner or having fun outside I still can't believe my luck. When we are out in the forest or cooking on the fire I have to pinch myself & I know I am so fortunate to do a job I love.
Imagine getting paid to make hot chocolate or popcorn?
I was walking back from the main school one day a few weeks ago & as I approached the nursery I could hear the children playing before I saw them through the fence. It is, quite possibly the best sound in the world & I get to hear it 5 days a week for 10 months of the year.

I do get cross when the early years as a sector is dismissed or worse still it comes attack from those who should know better. If children can not have a carefree, stimulating playful learning environment when they are 3 or 4 there is something seriously wrong with the world. So I will continue to hold firm against the formalisation of the early years. The children in my class will play with mud, rain, sticks etc., they will have time to watch a snail move slowly across the playground. I make no apologies for not worrying abut whether they recognise all the letters in their name or can hold a pencil 'properly'. They will learn all those skills in primary school & honestly look round a room of adults, do any of them hold a pen 'properly'?

I want the children in my class to have fun, to learn how to take risks, to experience that rush of achievement when they get up the slide or up a tree or put their own coat on. I want them to keep on trying when things aren't going so well & to know that it's OK to not be able to do something - but to never give up on the first try. 

I also believe that because I have worked in other jobs where I had to work weekends, evening & early mornings & during holiday periods that I fully appreciate how lucky I am to have a steady job that gives me quality time off to relax & recharge my batteries.

I truly mean it when I say that if I won the lottery in the morning I would keep on working, as realistically I feel like a lottery winner every day already.

10 comments:

  1. Kierna, I share your ethos wholeheartedly and also feel nothing but appreciation for my career as a childminder. I really enjoyed reading this, keep up the great work (and I hope you never compare yourself to your mother). Pam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Pam, we are lucky ones aren't we? xxx

      Delete
  2. Any children in your nursery are incredibly fortunate to have such an enthusiastic and devoted educationist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, I really appreciate you taking the time to write such a lovely comment xx

      Delete
  3. It is, in fact, the best job ever and only a teacher can understand that!!!! That noise of kids running and laughing all around me is something which never seizes to warm my heart! I work with more mature students and I feel honored to be let into their world! And they do let me, share their joy and hopes with me! :)))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Keri! Yes indeed all teachers are lucky to be around the next generation whatever their age. Thanks for commenting xx

      Delete
  4. This is such a lovely post. You are clearly an excellent nursery teacher and all those kiddies are lucky to have you! Awww, just lovely xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leila what a lovely thing to say xxxx

      Delete
  5. Kierna i wish my boys went to your pre school because i think your values are the ones that i support and also believe that children so young should be learning about. I am not surpised you adore your job it sounds like so much fun!
    This was so interesting to read and find otu about your background too. thank you for sharing x x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jenny & thanks for the kind words, though I think your 2 get enough brilliant experiences with you to balance out any negative pressures schooling may bring xxx

      Delete