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Jen Vennon: Lessons Learned

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Lessons Learned from Kindergarten
jen-vennon-lessons-learned-01The school year ended three short days ago and I can hardly believe its over. The last three weeks have been a complete whirlwind of field trips, pirate day, water day, field days and all around end-of-the-school-year mayhem. I slept very little and drank a lot of coffee! But now it’s over and I’m facing 10 weeks of glorious summer.
Saying good-bye to a class of children is always a little sad. They always beg me to move up to first grade with them, and when that doesn’t work they beg me to flunk them so they can do Kindergarten again. I just laugh and tell them that I haven’t mastered Kindergarten like they have and I’ll need to stay and try again!
While the children must move on, the memories of the year and the lessons learned always stay with me.
So here it is, my list of the top 5 lessons I learned in Kindergarten this year
jen-vennon-lessons-learned-025. You cannot recycle poop (at least not in a classroom recycling bin).
During clean-up time one day I hear a child shout across the room “You cannot recycle poop!” The only thought that crossed my mind was “please tell me that’s just a fun fact someone learned on the discovery channel, PLEASE.” Nope! Sure enough a medium sized turd was lying right on top of a weeks worth of recycled papers.
How the turd arrived in the recycling bin is still a great mystery to me as the culprit was never found. But, you’ll be surprised to know that this year alone poop was found in the cafeteria, on the floor of the library, on a student table, and on the floor of the classroom diagonal from mine. It’s a bit of an epidemic really.
jen-vennon-lessons-learned-034. It is not advisable to tell 10 little girls that not only will they not get to be flower girls in your wedding, but they won’t be attending the wedding at all.
Since my engagement in October all of the little girls in my class have been subtly hinting about becoming my flower girl. Last month I decided to finally tell them that I already had a flower girl. I should have stopped there, but instead I also said that they would not be attending to wedding at all because there were too many of them. BIG MISTAKE. Their little jaws dropped and several began tearing up. In an attempt to remedy the situation I quickly offered to have a pretend wedding at school where they could all be flower girls and ring bearers. This cheered them up instantly, but put me in a pickle. How would I ever get Andrew to agree to this?
In the end Andrew refused to attend the pretend wedding stating that he already had climbing plans. No amount of pleading on my part would be changing his mind. Luckily the children seemed perfectly contend having a pretend wedding reception instead. Andrew injured his back that day climbing. Karma? Hmmmm…
jen-vennon-lessons-learned-043. If you have a major #2 accident, strip naked, put a sock on your hand, and wait on the toilet until someone comes to help.
During my planning period one day a fellow teacher came into my room and said, “I think one of your students is in the bathroom… naked… covered in poop… with the door wide open.”
Sure enough, upon requesting permission to enter to boy’s bathroom, there was one of my kiddos sitting on the toilet completely naked except for a single sock on his hand, covered from chest to toe in poo.
After spending 30 minutes getting this poor child clean enough to walk to the nurse’s office I went to flush the toilet and it began overflowing. Just my luck.
jen-vennon-lessons-learned-052. If your chickens don’t hatch on time do NOT give up hope.
Every year in Kindergarten we attempt to hatch chickens and ducklings. This year I had three sets of eggs in two incubators that I was juggling. The first set of eggs was set to hatch on Wednesday and the next set were going to hatch the following Wednesday. The duck eggs would be the Wednesday after that. I had a fantastic plan for how this would all work considering the varying turning schedules and whatnot.
From the beginning I wasn’t sure the first batch of eggs was going to hatch. First the rooster in the flock was not as “aggressive” as most and therefore may not have been doing his job adequately. Second, the eggs were very clean leading me to believe they may have been washed. But we were going to give it a try anyway.
Wednesday came and the children began taking turns watching the eggs for cracking or moving. By the end of the day nothing had happened. Thursday passed in the same manner, as did Friday. Before the children left on Friday I told them that the eggs were duds and that I’d be throwing them out after school. They simply were not meant to be chickens and that was just the way it was.
After school I placed the un-hatched eggs into an egg carton and unceremoniously tossed them into the dumpster behind the school.
Fast forward to the very beginning of the school day a week and half later. The classroom is now alive with chickens and we are eagerly awaiting the hatch of our duckling eggs. All of the children have just arrived and many of their parents are lingering around to get a peek at our baby chicks. In walks the assistant principal who in a loud voice begins to tell me a story about how the night janitor came into his office the other day to talk about some eggs he found in the dumpster. Apparently the night janitor does a lot of composting at his house and decided to take the eggs home with him to add to his pile. However, upon opening the carton he found a baby chicken in the process of hatching! He of course took the chicken home with him, because apparently he also raises chickens, and added it to his flock. But, he simply could not figure out what kind of person would throw away a set of eggs that were hatching!
I nearly vomited upon hearing this story. The blood drained from my face and I could hardly breath. You know those stories you hear about women leaving their infant babies in the dumpster. That was ME! I was that person! All of the parents in the room immediately began laughing and my principal was nearly on his knees because he was enjoying my reaction so much. Then one of the kids says, “wait a minute! Are you telling me that those eggs hatched in the dumpster at night!”
I still haven’t heard the end of that one, but I guarantee that I’ve learned my lesson.
jen-vennon-lessons-learned-061.There is a place for even the most broken little chick.
Besides the dumpster chicken we managed to hatch ten chickens and two ducklings in the classroom this year. Unfortunately one of the chickens had an injured leg that she could not weight and drug around awkwardly. After a lot of internet research I decided she had splayed leg and began applying a band-aid brace in an attempt to fix her. She was very unstable with the brace and was begging to get picked on by the other chickens, so I moved her in with the nearly hatched ducklings and hoped for the best.
The ducklings became immediately attached to the little injured chicken and she loved them too. When I’d let the ducklings swim in their makeshift pond I’d have to hold the injured chick to keep her from jumping in with them. Leaving her in her on her own was not an option as she’d squawk and fly out of her trough.
After about a week it became clear that her leg wasn’t getting any better and that we’d need more help. Several teachers called their vets and asked if they’d be willing to have a look at her, but no one was willing to do it for free. A few years ago we all learned the hard way how expensive it is to take an inured chick to the emergency vet (but that’s another story).
Luckily one of our first grade teachers lives next door to a woman who works at a bird rehabilitation facility. They’d be willing to take her, but there were no promises they could fix her and if they couldn’t they’d use the little chick to rehabilitate a hawk they needed to learn how to hunt.
The children all seemed very happy to send her to rehab where she might get the help she needed. I didn’t mention the hawk part of the story. With great reservation I let her go.
A few days later we learned that she had a birth defect that was pretty common but couldn’t be fixed. She would always walk funny and couldn’t be put with the other chickens at the center because they’d pick on her. She did however get along great with the ducks and was expected to live a long happy life. Unless she turned out to be a boy, then they’d have to feed her to the hawk.
~ Jen Vennon, prAna Ambassador
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