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For the past 1 1/2 years, our Kindergarten classroom has been used for a Kindergarten After Care Program. As somebody that likes organization in the classroom, and the ability to come in early and stay late (if I want), the idea of sharing our classroom terrified me. But I did find some benefits in doing so, and have become accustomed to the After Care routine. My teaching partner, Paula, usually stays late after school, so we debrief and plan in the classroom together, and then when the After Care Program comes in from outside, I often retreat to the staff room to upload documentation from the day. I’ve become accustomed to this routine, and it’s not perfect, but it works. This year though, Paula and I agreed to switch Before and After Care with the Kindergarten class next door, so now it’s February, and Before Care is in our room. Everything’s changed!

want to love this change for a few reasons:

  • We can now plan after school without worrying about daycare. Paula can stay later after school, so this gives us more time to plan without children and interruptions.
  • We can set-up most of our materials the night before because our room will not be used until the following morning. I always found the morning time rushed, so now the room is basically ready when I come in, which is great. 

But this change has actually made me feel more stressed.

  • After Care always seems really loud next door. We don’t have a full wall between our rooms, so noise travels. Even as Paula and I talk, we hear things clearly from the other room, and it always feels as though we’re yelling at each other to just be heard. This constant noise is mentally and physically draining. I’ve been coming home feeling more tired than before, even on our very best of days.
  • We need to get everything organized the night before. I’m a creature of habit, so I still arrive at school by 7:00 each morning, but the Before Care Program comes in shortly after me. While the people that run the program are incredibly nice, and always willing to work around me in the classroom, it’s hard for many of us to juggle what we need to do in the same space. So Paula and I ensure that everything is set-up the night before, but this means that I’m uploading way less documentation at school. I’m now up later at night doing what I used to be able to do before I pulled out of the parking lot. 
  • There are no more quiet mornings. I’ve realized how much I miss the quiet! I love that very few people come to school before 8:30, which means that I usually have 1 1/2 hours to work quietly before anyone else even arrives in the building. I appreciate the hum of the lights and the blissful silence! Now the silence ends at 7:15 when the Before Care staff arrive, and the children follow soon after. I’ve come to appreciate my daily argument with the photocopier (printing my daybook page), as it’s a little alone time before the day begins. 

Every morning, I print our daybook to the photocopier. Every morning, I’m greeted with this sign. I feel like I should be learning something from this … and it’s not that I’m really good at unjamming the photocopier. 😂 #iteachk #teachersofinstagram

— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) January 25, 2018

  • The work is never done! I know that many people could say that about teaching in general, and it’s quite true, but on most mornings I used to feel as though I was done as soon as I put the last item out in the classroom. Then I took the 20 minutes before others arrived to sip my coffee, think about the day, and just breathe. Now though, I’m feeling the before-school rush, since when the Before Care Program tidies up at 8:35, I’m putting out everything on the tables or on the floor that couldn’t go out before. It’s organized along the side, but it’s not out yet … so it still doesn’t feel like I’m ready. And then I get that feeling of crazy and last-minute-itis, even though I’m actually the first person in the building after the caretaker. How is this even possible?!

I know that I could use Before Care as an opportunity to sleep in and come to school later, but I like my routine, and think I would feel even more stressed going in later. What if items were moved around? Or what if the furniture was shifted for some reason? Not knowing this until 20 minutes before school started would make me feel even more stressed. So off I go to school as usual, even though I know that my time in the classroom will be limited, and loud, until 8:35. As hard as it can sometimes be, I try to use Self-Reg to save me.

  • I take a few more deep breaths, especially as the noise increases. I can feel myself slowing down as I do.
  • I use my time in the staff room with the temperamental photocopier as a reprieve. I always remember to bring my coffee and my iPad with me, and if the staff room is empty — as it usually is at that time of the morning — I sit down for a few minutes, enjoy my coffee, and read a blog post or two. It makes me feel better!
  • I try to connect with kids! Thankfully it’s our Kindergarten students in this program, so I try to have some quiet time reading, writing, or talking with the children as they get dropped off. It’s a nice time to connect, and these positive connections do make me feel better.
  • I find some sensory options. Just like with kids, I find sensory play self-regulating. So I often take the time to clean some paint jars, wash paint brushes, rip plasticine into smaller chunks, and even experiment with the paint that we’re going to use that day. 

I hope that as I become more accustomed to this new Before Care routine, I’ll find it less stressful. But this has been a good reminder for me that we all have to deal with some stress in our lives. Self-regulation makes us feel so much better. Does anyone have any advice for me as I continue to adjust to sharing our space with Before Care? What might make it easier or less stressful? Maybe I need to consider some noise-cancelling headphones, but I’m not at that point quite yet. 🙂 All I know is that I need to find my calm because the 27 kids and one adult that I spend my day with, need and deserve that … and it will make all of our days better! 

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