Thursday, June 6, 2013

If Students Ran The Classroom

Wow!  With less than six days left in this school year, things are definitely a bit c-r-a-z-y around school.  The kids are trying to be good.  They are trying to do their assignments.  They are trying to remain calm.  But, geez, summer is just around the corner. It's so close you can almost taste it.  Sleeping in.  Staying up late.  Hanging out with Mom (or Dad). Playing with friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters.   Swimming. Playing. And a lot of the "F" word ----- FUN!  Believe me, the teachers are not immune to this either.  There's a lot of eye-rolling and hands thrown up in the air.   We are completely and officially worn out every day by noon with all the anticipation.

Today was our last day with our kindergarten buddies.  Now, kindergarten buddy day is right up there with Halloween or Valentine's Day. It's exciting.  It's fun.  And the third graders love seeing their little friends.  So, as I reviewed our daily schedule with the kids as I do every morning, when I came to "Kindergarten Buddies", they all squealed and clapped their hands in excitement.   The problem was we had six hours and ten minutes until we got to that point in the schedule.  They must have asked me seventy-five times today about buddies.  

"When are we going?"  [I point to schedule on board]
"Are we gonna see our buddies today?"  [Nod.  Frown.  Point to schedule on board]
"Is this our last time to see our buddies?"  [Nod.  Make sad face in agreement]

Now repeat the above over and over and over and over and over......

Finally, 3:10 arrives.  I pick the little ones up from gym and we head to the kindergarten hallway.  It's so cute to see them interact with their little friends.  They hold hands and hug and laugh.  The third graders help their little kindergarten friends color and read to them and play games with them.   Today, I brought in some Popsicles to celebrate our last time together.   They were all so polite. 

"Thank you Mrs. Jeppson,"  I heard over and over.   And then I watched the third graders open the Popsicle for their little buddy.  The big kids and the little kids licked their Popsicles and their tongues and lips turned red and purple and blue.   They giggled as they stuck their tongues out at one another and made funny faces. 

Next we headed outside to play.  Now this is always a treat for the third graders because they get to play on the "little kids side" of the playground.  Of course when you are on the "little kids side" all you want to do is make it to the "big kids side" of the playground, but once there, you only want to go back.  It's a vicious cycle.   So, my kids were happy to be back playing with their buddies.  I watched as they ran and chased one another and climbed and jumped and pushed each other on the swings and had the time of their life.  

Before long, it was time to go and we bid our little buddies good-bye.  We headed back to our classroom and it seemed everything was in chaos. I stopped at least five times on our way back and even used my sternest glare to try and get them to stop chatting so much. When we got back to our room, they were all over the classroom. They were to the right of me. They were to the left of me.  I looked across the room and saw one student on the floor.  Two were trying to get a drink from the drinking fountain at the same time.  At least five were trying to get my attention to relay their "cute buddy story" to me.   With only eight minutes until the bell rang, to get us one more day closer to summer, I gave up.  Three kids had been poking my arm and trying to get my attention to ask if they could play 'Seven Up'.  

"Yes.  Yes.  Play away," I said, in a rather loud voice.  "But you can decide who is supposed to be up and run the game.  I'm tired."  I threw in a yawn for added effect.

They looked at me and looked at each other.  And then, rather silently, seven students (who were "up" the last time we played") lined up at the back of the room.  One of them announced in a clear, firm voice:

"OK.  If you want to play, close your eyes and put your thumb up.  And don't peek!"  

And with that, fourteen little heads went down and fourteen little thumbs went up and the seven students walked around, sneaking up on kids to gently tap their thumb and then race back to their spot at the back of the room.    I stood over by the door.  Silent.  Watching.  Could they do it?  Could they run the game by themselves without problems, arguments, etc.??  

And then one of the seven said, "OK.  Eyes open.  Raise your hand if you were tapped." 

And I'll be darned.  Seven hands went into the air.  They were running the game all by themselves.  And they were doing a pretty good job so far.  

Another one of the seven began.  "[student name], who do you think tapped you?"  

The game went on and I watched in amusement.   The words they used were exactly the words I use when we play the game.  They were being the teacher.  They were running their own game.  They were following the rules and playing the game.  They were running the classroom.  And they were doing a really good job.  I honestly think I could have left and they would have called the game, lined up, waited for the bell, and walked themselves out.  There is something to be said for routines. 

I'm thinking tomorrow I'll toss them the social studies lesson and see how they do.  

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