It was a bit of a difficult week, positivity wise. Probably just the month of September in general, with all the crazy, hectic things taking place as we returned to school. Thank goodness for all my wonderful teacher friends who wouldn't allow me to wallow in self pity or negativity. I received gifts on my desk and even some flowers. So, how could I not feel happy and positive?
This week I've been thinking about what a teacher does. How we put all our problems or
worries aside each day when the bell rings to devote our attention, and ourselves to the kids. We teach and nurture our students - that is our focus. The morning bell signals "game on" and not until the end-of-day bell do we return to our own lives. We don't get to leave the building for lunch or come and go as we please. We can't get phone calls or schedule doctor appointments during the day. We have more important things to do.
Who else but a teacher can manage twenty-something students of all abilities, personalities, anxieties, and make it look easy? Five days a week.
Who else but a teacher can quiet a room full of kids down in under ten seconds flat? Anytime. Anywhere.
Who else can supervise a classroom full of kids eating lunch, while opening pudding for one, monitoring the microwave operator for safety, and eating their own lunch at the same time?
Who else can make studying geography feel like a trip to Disney World?
Who else can make a kid want to do better, be better, and become better?
Who else can get a kid excited about writing? Or math? Or reading?
Who else can push a little one to build independence and confidence to be the best student they can be?
Who else is so outnumbered yet somehow manages to be in charge?
Who else is simultaneously a nurse, a counselor, a leader, a role model, a tutor, a coach, a friend, and a teacher, all day long? And, remember, I'm talking about with twenty+ kids.
Who else can do science experiments, quiet a group of kids by reading a book, coordinate rides home and activities at the end of each day, supervise a playground, model and teach respect and compassion, find missing homework, and smile, smile, smile!
Friday, I had my students think like scientists and sort and organize beads into different categories and explain their reasoning. Yes. That's right. Twenty-four eight year olds with a cup of 50-60 small multi-colored, multi-shaped beads on their desk. All at one time. Of course, I explained to them that we needed to try and keep the beads on the place mat where they were to organize. Did I really think they could do it?? You bet I did. Even more, I knew they could do it. I told them so. And then they began. I watched as they carefully (in partner groups) poured the beads onto their sorting paper. When a bead would go astray, they quickly set it back into place. It was a true work of art. They were so proud of themselves. I was proud, too. That after only eighteen days of school, my class was already becoming a true community of learners.
Did a bead or two race across the floor? Yes. Did some kids play with them for a bit before sorting them? Yes. Did they learn? Yes. Did they discuss ideas with their partner? Yes. Did they argue a bit? Some. But that's all part of the deal. Learning can sometimes be a messy, loud, busy thing.
I'm happy to report that my negativity did not last long last week. It's like that when you work with small children. You can't allow yourself to not be, and give 100% to the students.
And since they handled the beads with such care, I can't wait to see them with all the fun activities we have planned this year!