It was so wonderful to be back with the kids today. There's nothing quite like a bunch of little girls and boys beaming ear to ear as they arrive, genuinely excited to be back at school. I can't think of any other job where after being gone for a week or so, you receive hugs and exuberant greetings proclaiming how much you've been missed. I've worked in several business offices and not once did anyone ever hug me or seem overly pleased I was back after vacationing. So, two things put me immediately into a positive frame of mind this morning (not that I wasn't already). One was the smiles, greetings, hugs, and general feeling of happiness to be back at school. Two was that today was Thursday, with Friday just around the corner.
So after announcing to the class I was glad to see them all again and getting them settled down, I asked them if they noticed anything new in the classroom. I had made several changes to our room over the break.
[Waving hands in the air]
"Welllll," began one little boy exaggerating each letter. "I see a red microwave! I can't believe my eyes!"
Others joined in the excitement and we all gazed lovingly at the new microwave, tucked in its spot on the counter. Side Note: Our class microwave broke several weeks before the break and we've been without one to use at lunch.
"Yes!" I confirmed. "I asked the PTO if they would help us to get a new one and they said they would. So I went and looked for the brightest microwave I could find to brighten our room." Not that my room needs any more brightening, mind you.
Other changes were pointed out by the students and we talked a bit about the new year and how changes are good. I reminded them we should always be reflecting on things to help make them better and learn from them. Sometimes I find it odd that I am a very routine, creature of habit person, but when it comes to teaching I really love trying new things. Jumping off the fis-school cliff you might say.
And so, our routine returned to normal this morning. By this time of the year, our classroom is like a well worn, favorite shoe. We've put some miles on it, everything is comfortable, warm, and protected. Everyone knows what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Well, except operate the new microwave. So I taught Microwave Operation 101 at lunch.
Later this afternoon, the students went into the hallway to change into their gym shoes. One boy came running into the room, frantically waving his shoes over his head.
"What in the world?" I asked. "I think your shoes are supposed to be on your feet."
"I can't get them on my feet. I've tried and tried but they won't go on." Instead of being frustrated, he seemed incredulous that his shoes didn't fit anymore. "My feet grew over the break! They grew! But I can't wear boots in gym, so now I'll have to sit out."
(long sigh followed by collective group sigh of empathy)
Gym is after all, the favorite subject in school, second only to recess.
While the kids were in gym, I thought about all the changes I had introduced today. Some would help my room run smoother. Some would help the students learn. Some would make things easier for me. Some would get the kids thinking more. And some were just plain old fun, like having a shiny, brand new, red microwave.
Like all changes, some fit and some don't. You weed out the bad, tweak the mediocre, and keep the good ones.
As the saying goes, if the shoe fits, wear it.
If it doesn't, I guess you'll be sitting out of gym.