The first day of school.
For many, like those in Roxanne Tjaden's kindergarten class, it is an exciting day; for others it is often a scary day with tears.
There is much to learn about school and the veteran teacher of 30 years wasted no time explaining rules and routines they will become familiar with in no time.
Each student has a name button to make it easy for the teacher and the other students get to know each other. Some have already shared preschool and/or junior kindergarten together, some faces are brand new.
The students were guided as to where to sit at one of five tables; each spot marked by their name. They are quiet, as Mrs. Tjaden speaks to Heather Anderson, the new Title I teacher who was helping out on the first day. When done speaking, Mrs. Tjaden said to her students, "You waited so quietly when I was talking to a teacher. That's important to do."
It was time to look through each students' pencil box holding supplies to make sure they had what they needed for the classroom.
"If you have your scissors, hold them up." Everyone did except for Brian Chase. "Mine are in my bag," he said. Mrs. Tjaden told him he could go to his locker to get them. He returned empty-handed and sat back down. Mrs. Tjaden saw him return and asked if he found them. "They're in my pocket now," he said. She asked him to put them in his pencil box.
"Now, if you have your glue bottle, hold it up so I can see. Everyone should also have two glue sticks."
"I got mine," shared Collin Aronson. "I got three glue sticks," added Marcos Uribe.
"You should have two kinds of markers - fat markers and skinny markers.
"Look, I got mine," said Collin.
"Open the box of the fat markers and put them in your pencil box," the teacher told her class.
"I can't do it," said Collin.
"Yes you can," Mrs. Tjaden said. "It's just like opening a box of candy." Collin found it easy to open the box after her encouragement.
"Now, you will have an empty box. If you are at the blue, yellow or green table you may throw your box away in this garbage. If you are at the red or orange table,you may throw it away in that garbage."
A student from the red table walked over to the first garbage can. Garbage wars began. Brian said, "You can't throw that away here. You have to go to the other garbage." Mrs. Tjaden intervened, "That's OK," just glad to see that the empty boxes all made it into the garbage.
"Are we going home?" Collin said. The clock read 9:30 a.m. "Not yet," Mrs. Tjaden said, though it was close as the students were dismissed the first day at 11:30 a.m.
The students continued to go over their supplies - pencils, pink erasers and crayons.
"Now, I think your pencil boxes look good. Close them up and put them in your cubbies."
Mrs. Tjaden then turned the students' attention to the multi-colored rug with squares in the middle of the room.
"I'm going to have special spots for each of you top sit on the carpet. These are magic spots and you need to remember everytime I read stories or have jobs for you this is where you will sit. So, when I call you names you come over to the rug but what are you going to remember to do?"
"Push our chairs in," the students said.
"Good," said the teacher.
When she was done calling everyone's name, and everyone was seated on the rug, Mrs. Tjaden told her students, "Now look who's sitting beside you. Look at their face. You probably don't know everyone's names now but by Friday you will."
She settled into a chair in front of the kids and pulled out the book, "Miss Bindergarten gets ready for Kindergarten," a favorite book about a kindergarten teacher preparing her classroom for her new students.
When the book was finished, she asked the students what they did to get ready for kindergarten.
"I put my shirt on," said Gabriel McSparran.
"I brushed my teeth and brushed my hair and ate my breakfast," shared Destiny Perez.
"We went to Walgreens and then to Walmart," added Ryan Jensen.
It was then time to get ready for recess. "The morning is zooming right by," Mrs. Tjaden said. And more rules.
"When the bell rings, that is your sign to stop playing and line up. There will be teachers on the playground with whistles and if you hear them blow their whistles, that also means to line up. The teachers are out there to help you if you are in danger or if one of your friends gets hurt. Don't come back inside without telling the teacher who is outside. The rocks out on the playground are not for throwing. Keep them on the ground. That's another rule for you to put up there in your computer. You go down the slide feet first. We always want you to be safe. Can you run outside? Yes. But we don't run inside. We're going to go down the hall. The big kids don't get to go outside so zip the lip 'cause we don't want them to know we are going outside."
Whether they were scared of their teacher and her rules or whether they were still nervous about being in school, the students walked quietly down the long hall. Once they were safely out the door, the noise escalated and they took off in all directions, to find friends from other grades.
Recess is a break from the classroom for the students and the teachers.
Mrs. Tjaden shared that she has been teaching for over 30 years and she still gets excited for the first day of school - just like her students.
Once back inside, the students had the chance for free play at the different centers throughout the classroom. There is the housekeeping center where there are dolls and dishes and dress up clothes; the puzzle center; the art center filled with paper, markers, scissors, crayons; a writing center. The classroom also has Legos, cars and trucks and oodles of games for the students to use during freetime.
"I'm not going to yell, 'Time to clean up' when it's time to quit," said Mrs. Tjaden in a loud voice. "That's an outside voice. Instead I'm going to ring these chimes."
The students chose a favorite area and began to make new friends. Soon the teacher said there were only three minutes left before it would be time to clean up.
"But teacher, I want to keep playing," said Collin. She told him he would have more time the next day.
Carmen Launderville walked up to Mrs. Tjaden and gave her the first of many "gifts" made at center time.
The morning was over and it was time for the students to clean up and go home. The teacher shared a few reminders.
"Your pencil boxes stay at school. Don't take them home 'cause we'll need them for school tomorrow. They will be safe in our classroom 'cause I lock our room every night.
"Well, what about our lockers?" said a concerned Brian.
Mrs. Tjaden told the students the things in their lockers would be safe because the janitors lock all the doors of the school.
"We had a really good morning and you learned a lot about our class," Mrs. Tjaden said.
One day of school down for these young students, 2,339 to go before they graduate.
(Moms, get prepared!)