I was talking with a coworker today and in our conversation I began to realize how far some of my kids have come this year. It can be so hard to remember that they have progressed, especially when the kiddos have the spring-jitters and don't seem to be able to sit still for more than 2 minutes.
The nature of first grade is that they walk in the door in august as babies. Developmentally they struggle to sit still and keep their hands and feet to themselves. Some don't know their letters and few can read. (Though this is changing as kindergarten curriculum changes). By June they are ready for second grade. They are old! And tall! And like to work for extended periods of time. They like to work alone and suddenly they care about what their work looks like. I read somewhere that first grade has the biggest developmental growth of any grades.
It wasn't until I was talking to my coworker that I started remembering some of the characters that walked in my door in August. One little girl spent most of her time under a table or rolling on the floor. She struggled to be in control of her body and frequently would be engaged in an activity and then seconds later would be on the floor, rolling. She kept her head down in reading group and in math group and refused to work. Even getting her to color a paper could take me hours. She rarely came to school on time, if she came at all.
Now she walks in on time. She is smiling and stands tall. She looks happy to be in school. I can't remember the last time she crawled under a table. Or refused to work for me. She's excited to come to groups now and is ready to work. She even participates in group discussions. I am not sure she participated once before Christmas. She holds books like they are teddy bears, clutching them under her arm as though hugging it will put her in the story.
Of course, without reflecting on this it is easy to see everything that is wrong with her behavior now. Sometimes I watch her and become frustrated with myself for not getting her further. Why can't she stay in one place on the rug? I forget that keeping her on the rug use to be impossible. Why can't she raise her hand? I forget she use to not want to talk to me. Why does she walk backwards with her eyes closed in the hallway? Because she's doing the tooty-ta, which she learned in school. She's smiling, and it honestly looks like she is happy for a moment. i'm not sure we saw her smile in the beginning of the year.
I need to work on being proud of her for how far she's come, and not frustrated with myself.
If I can remember her progress I might to able to make it through the next few weeks...