It was a hot, humid Friday nap time when I first met – and was totally intimidated by – my first student teacher, Miss N.
Angel Face walked in the back door, “Mom, there’s someone here to see you.”
Hot and sticky, in a tank top and cut-off jean shorts with hair frizzy from the humidity, I got up and came face-to-face with a big, beautiful black woman. The first thing I noticed was that she was at least a foot taller than me. The second thing I noticed was that she was impeccably dressed in a black, white, and yellow outfit with matching yellow headband. She looked fresh and cool. I was literally a hot mess.
Great first impression, Amy. Way to earn points for family child care as a profession. Ugh.
Miss N ended up being anything but intimidating once I got to know her. She was eager to learn everything she could about family child care and jumped in to help out with everything we did. She was a mom so she already knew how to work with a group of mixed age children, and was also a business owner so the business side of family child care wasn’t foreign to her. But her biggest strength was a calm, serene manner that slowed things down when they started to get crazy. I tend to get pulled into the craziness, but now when things start to wind up I take a deep breath, imagine Miss N’s gentle drawl, and find a way to slow things down again.
Meeting last summer’s student teacher, Miss A, wasn’t nearly as dramatic, but I did have an “I’m not that old, am I?” moment when we were chatting that first day. She had a son the same age as iMatt so we’d been trading Mom stories and I was feeling like we were equals… Until she mentioned her age, and I realized that she was the same age as College Boy.
I was old enough to be her MOTHER.
Oh yes, nothing like discovering that a presumed equal is actually young enough to be your child. Ugh.
Once I got over the I-could-be-your-mommy shock I enjoyed working with Miss A. I imagine it could be uncomfortable working in a stranger’s home, but Miss A quickly got over any reservations she might have had. She watched to see where things were kept, then took the initiative to jump in and help before I could ask. As a mom she also had the ability to adapt activities for the children, no matter their ages. And since the business side of family child care was new to her she asked a lot of questions and took a lot of notes. In addition to showing initiative, her biggest strength was flexibility. Often things don’t go as we plan, and Miss A was able to think on her feet – no matter what the children threw at her.
This summer a record number of students wanted to work in family child care so I have 2 student teachers, Miss R and Miss A. I haven’t met either of them yet and don’t know anything about them yet except their names and contact info. I can’t wait to get to know them, discover what strengths they bring to the table, and see what I can learn from them!