Student Reflection: Home in the Classroom

The Assignment in Marti Eads’ College Writing class – “Envision a place from your past that you identify as home, wish were your home, or think should have been home for you but never proved to be.  Describe its location, appearance, and other inhabitants (if any).  Why did you thrive there, or what would you have needed to thrive there?  How is your relationship to that place changing as a result of your having become a university student?  Please refer to one of the readings about home you have read for this class.”

Home in the Classroom by Emma Pirrung

West Fallowfield Christian School was a place that felt like home from the moment I stepped into it. My sister attended a year before me, so I would go to her kindergarten choir concerts and musicals. I would watch her get on Bus #64 every morning, even if it was before the sun was completely up. It was my favorite part of my day because I knew that in a short year, I would be joining her, and when the day finally came for me to go to school, I was overjoyed.  It never really hit me, however, that West Fallowfield would mean so much to me in the long run. From the exciting first days of school to the very Monday-ish Mondays, there is no where else that I feel more than home than that kindergarten classroom.

 Every elementary school has that certain smell: the one that you dread to take in when it’s 8:00am on a weekday but the one that you smell sometime in your late high school years and it takes you back to your better days as a kindergarten student. It smells like old desks with Lysol wipes to clean them after lunch. It smells like that one classroom you had to visit everyday to get help with your speech. It smells like that school bus that you and your schoolmates would be packed into like sardines. These smells take me back to my first day of kindergarten, my first “oh-so-frightening” day that I can remember.

My first day of kindergarten is still fresh in my mind. I walked into the mass chaos of everybody putting away backpacks, parents saying “hi” to the teacher, and kids already making new friends. It was loud and terrifying to me as a five-year-old. My wide eyes looked up at my mom, and she smiled back with that fake “you’ll love it here” smile. That sense of confidence I had leaving my house that day was completely wiped away. Nevertheless, I faced the crowd of smelly, obnoxious kids with the mindset of “I get to go home later”.

Over time, I learned to enjoy school. I made new friends, I got to play with toys, and I got to do some super cool arts and crafts, (which was an all-time favorite activity for me). My most valued time, however, was with my teacher, Ms. Mason. Ms. Mason let me be myself in the classroom. She highlighted my strengths and she let me feel like I was the queen of the whole kindergarten class, which I was definitely not, while still challenging me to perform to the best of my abilities. Ms. Mason would send home a brown moose, named Chocolate Moose, every week with a different student. We were to take care of it and take pictures of what we did with it. I brought Chocolate Moose to Disney World with me, and I thought I was the most amazing kindergartener ever. I raced back to class after my vacation with Chocolate Moose in one arm and my lunch box in the other and said, “Ms. Mason, look at my pictures from Disney World!” Ms. Mason acted so amazed and interested in my pictures, even though she didn’t have to. I owe it all to Ms. Mason for my confidence to go and do what I love in this world.

I look back on kindergarten and see the good. I see the love I was shown by my teacher. I see the relationships that I still have with my classmates. But most importantly, I see the person whom I have become because of that class and that school. I see someone who strives to be more than good, someone who is not afraid to speak up, and I see someone who has this dream to be a kindergarten teacher when she graduates college. Kindergarten and elementary school were such a prime time for growth for me. It was a time where I found who I was, what I liked, and who I needed to become. I am now studying elementary education in college so that I can be that teacher who helps students find where they need to be and who they want to be.

I cannot think of a better home than that kindergarten classroom. That classroom is where I learned some key elements to life: how to be kind, how to share, what compassion is, and what truly makes me happy. Home to me is somewhere where I feel safe to be myself and somewhere where I can grow on my own terms, and my kindergarten classroom provided that space for me. Monique Truong (2012), in “A Love Letter to a N.C. Barbecue Joint,” writes about her love for her home, which was a restaurant she found and fell in love with as a child. She says, “It’s important to me that you understand how the taste of your barbecue had made me feel right at home.” Troung felt at home at this barbecue joint, and when she looked back, she realized that the barbecue joint holds the best memories of home. In the same way, reflecting on my experience in kindergarten has made me see what it meant to me. It was a fun place for me to be, but I never really understood how much that classroom would change my life until I was out of the classroom. The classroom is home to me, just like the barbecue joint is home for Troung.

Now, being a college student, I don’t get to have nap time during the school day any more. I don’t get to do my favorite arts and crafts, and I don’t get 

to take Chocolate Moose home with me anymore. There are days, days that happen often, that I wish I could go back to kindergarten. But when I step back and look at what I am doing in college, I realize that in just four short years, I will be back in kindergarten. I will be teaching my own class. This brings me the joy that I felt when I got to go to kindergarten everyday as a five-year-old-child. It’s the thought of being able to shape those tiny minds into minds that are passionate and caring that makes me study education. Yes, I will never be a kindergarten student again, but I cannot wait to go back to my home in the classroom as a teacher, just like Ms. Mason, who will leave a life-long impact on students.

References

Truong, M. (2012, November 30). A love letter to a N.C. barbecue joint. The Washington Post.  Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/a-love-letter-to-a-nc-barbecue-joint/2012/11/29/8e6eb3e6-301d-11e2-a30e-5ca76eeec857_story.html?utm_term=.8b326db8a10f

 Emma Pirrung is first-year elementary education major from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.