Tuesday, August 4, 2009

jinxing myself to just write this...

breathing deeply...

actually, the first two days have been amazing so far. (knocking on wood while typing).

yesterday was the first time in over a year my brilliant co-teacher, our aids, and i breathed. last year's class, although we loved them dearly, resembled a kindergarten version of lord of the flies. you never know, when you have one of these classes, if it's the make up of the class or really, it's just you.

this new class- with their following directions, looking at us when we talk, playing with blocks instead of throwing them, walking in a line instead of sprinting down the hallway- is showing us that really, it wasn't us. it was them.

don't get me wrong. i adored last year's children.
or in small groups.
but all together, there was something about the mix of personalities that turned even the most quiet child into a defiant, adult-hating five year old.

i'm not exaggerating.

i'm working with four of them again this year in my first grade class, and i can't tell you how much i love them & how excited i am to work with them again. i love every former student from that class who i walk by in the hallway. but, i don't miss them as a class.

yesterday morning i noticed the difference when a little child stretched his legs out when we were sitting on the rug. i asked him to go back to sitting criss cross applesauce, and,
he-did it!
i mean, he listened- and sat correctly.

unlike last year where i would expect a child to choose from the following options: 1) kick me 2) stand up and walk away from me 3) ignore me 4) fix his legs but immediately start singing loudly

this year...
in the hallway they are in line.

when we introduced pattern blocks they made patterns.

when we taught them to sit quietly they sat quietly.

when we showed them the monkey bars they used them as monkey bars- not as a way to kick their friends in the face.

when we blew the whistle at recess they lined up.

they are better at being kindergartners on day two of kindergarten than last year's class was on day 100 of kindergarten.

last year's group had a rough go. we began the year with the recess queen, whose brutal (yet silent and unprovoked) attacks on the others made us go through a full quarter where we couldn't guarantee any one's safety. by the end of the year we, or someone else, had called child services on almost every single child in the classroom. every child had a very difficult home life. we weren't teaching school- we were offering an escape from their worlds, and a place to learn basic social skills.

on the bright side, that group probably improved our teaching more than anything else. i listen to my amazing co-teacher's teacher language and am just in awe at how perfect it is. she's predicting every move- labeling everything they do- and using her words to prevent all sorts of disasters. we learned to do that last year as a survival technique, and so with this group it's working wonders.

every time we make eye contact with each other we knock on wood- we know we're thinking how incredible it is. we're waiting for the other shoe to drop.

they're not perfect- but no beginning kindergarten students are. the mere fact there have been no physical beatings of other children (there has been.... sharing! of materials! ) is a huge success.

now it's my turn for nap time :)

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