Alyssa Green has been teaching 5 and 6-year-old kindergarteners for the past four years in Broadway, Virginia. She spoke to Silly Fish about how her class laughs together and why it’s so important.
SF: How did you get into kindergarten teaching?
Alyssa: I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I grew up babysitting every weekend and spending my summers at camp as a counselor. I attended college here in Virginia but moved home to Pennsylvania after graduation to get married. There, I taught High School Spanish (not my degree – as a fill in for a year!) and discovered that although I love the Spanish language and culture, I was definitely made to teach little friends. My husband and I decided to move to Virginia permanently where I found my dream job as a kindergarten teacher! For the past four years, I have cultivated a LOVE (some might say obsession) for children and the classroom and it truly is my passion! I realize that waking up and LOVING my job each day is not something that everyone gets to experience, and I try hard not to take it for granted! The relationships with the children are probably my favorite part overall!
SF: Kindergarten is a pretty fun age to teach. Have you got a silly story you could share with us?
Alyssa: This story still makes me laugh so hard! For my first two years in Kindergarten, I taught in inner city schools with a lot of diversity and a lack of awareness of agriculture. One of our field trips was to a pumpkin patch that also doubled as a farm. For a lot of my students, this was the first time seeing this much grass! Let alone the crazy cool farm animals!! As we were passing by the animals, I was mentioning the different noises the animals make and we were all trying to make the noises. The farmer (dressed like any farmer would be – overalls too) encouraged the kids to make the different noises. He showed us chicken noises, cow noises, and even goat noises. Once we had practiced, he let us put our feet on the fence and he asked us to try to call the goats over. One of my students just started shouting, “GOAT!!!!! GOAT!!!!! HEY GOAT!!!!!!” and we were all laughing so hard!!! The farmer was hoping we would use our goat noise but in Kindergarten, we take things very literally!! Hahaha!! Still one of my favorite stories to date – but you can bet with Kindergarten, I’ve got a lot!
SF: That is hilarious. Other than the correct way to call a goat, do you think your students learned anything in particular from this experience?
Alyssa: We learned to laugh together! I think that’s the important thing about my classroom is that I establish a tight community, and in that community, we laugh. I laugh at myself, I laugh with my students, we giggle about mistakes. School can be a high-pressure situation for some kids and adding laughter eases that tension. It also allows us to give ourselves grace! We are all learning whether we are the teacher at 25 or the students at 5! I establish the idea that we can learn AND laugh – which makes learning fun!
SF: We love humor and silliness here. How do you incorporate creativity into the fun of your classes?
Alyssa: I love to write parodies – LOVE to write parodies. So I take songs that the kids already know, like from Frozen or Moana or even pop songs like “This is my Fight Song” and I change the lyrics and then we sing them. The kids love it! I also incorporate arts and writing and music and dance into almost every subject so they can see how things extend across the curriculum. I’m also a huge advocate for choice. While I keep the choices limited, I’m allowing the student to choose what they think is best for them. This has really helped my kiddos feel independent and then let their creativity soar!
SF: Sounds like a great learning environment. What would be your biggest piece of advice to other teachers looking to create a positive learning experience for their students?
Put your relationships with students first! When that connection is there, the learning occurs. – Alyssa Green of @thegreengartenTweet
SF: And we’ve got to ask…as a Silly Fish reader, what’s your favorite post?
Alyssa: My favorite is a tip – and it’s all about teacher self-care. That’s been my new venture this year as I realized that the past 3 years have been wearing on me. I need to care for myself in order to be the best that I can be for my students. This means I allot time each week to care for myself in any way I see fit – Netflix binging, wine, manicure, reading a good book, whatever brings me joy and relaxation. Sometimes it just means taking a nap! I love this tip because it’s easy for us as teachers to forget it. It’s such a good reminder!