I don’t speak Kindergarten.
I have been testing and teaching Gifted and Talented students in elementary school for 13 years. Every January, when Kinder testing rolls around, I try a new communication strategy. And every year, I fail miserably.
My first couple of years, after I had been teaching 5th grade for 8 years, I cut myself some slack. Even after one little girl burst into tears after I asked them to write their names on their papers. Even after one little boy silently peed in his pants during the test because he somehow missed my request for anyone who needed a bathroom break.
I figured it would take me a little time to learn the Kindergarten dialect.
Last year, one of the parents told me that her child thought the entire time I was testing her that I was testing her for Speech. Another parent mentioned that her child thought I was the Principal.
So, this year, I thought I would try to do a better job of explaining what I do and why I’ve taken them from their class for a little while.
I told them that I teach the Gifted and Talented class. I asked them if they knew what that meant. They didn’t even move their heads, just stared at me bug-eyed, waiting for me to pull out some comical sock puppets like the counselor or to break out into a song from Dora the Explorer like – well, I don’t really know who would do that, but they seemed to expect some kind of entertainment.
I told them that I teach kids who like to do extra thinking. I said that we sometimes do thinking games in my class and we learn different ways to use our brains.
“Gifted and Talented means that you like to try to solve problems and that when something is hard you try to figure it out. Gifted and Talented is a class for students who like to think of new ideas. I like teaching Gifted and Talented because we get to do different types of puzzles and games. Sometimes, we invent things, too. I’ve been teaching Gifted and Talented for 13 years, and I love it.”
Silence. Well, not exactly. One child was busy trying to roll his pencil off of the desk and catch it. Another was obsessed with the fact that his shoelace wasn’t tied, and mumbling progressively louder to try to get my attention. One of the girls was digging inside her empty, borrowed desk looking for her pencil, which was on the floor beneath her chair.
“So, who remembers what I teach?”
Five hands went up. I nodded at one of the boys who seemed to be paying close attention during my speech.
“Kids. You teach kids.”
Yeah. I try.