My weekend felt super, super short because yesterday I got up at 5:30 (on a Saturday!) to head to the MSU/FAU game as a chaperone with my school. We are very, very blessed at that school because we have a TON of sponsors and community partners who really try to give our students help to have a great educational experience. I love that. (And it is definitely something that none of the other schools I have worked at have had.)
This week was pretty crazy overall. I love, love, love my new class and I'm so glad that I decided to be positive about 2nd grade. It's different for sure, but I'm having fun with them and that makes a big difference. We have a lot to do to get these kiddos ready for third grade and standardized tests but I'm confident we can get (most of them) there. A few I do already worry that I am not going to be able to really help much because they're so far behind. BUT then I remember why I do what I do. I am there to help children and I am fortunate to work at a school with a ton of resources so I'm going to do everything I can to get my kids the help they need.
It always amazes me how big the gap of achievement can be in one classroom. I have many children reading at a BR level (beginning reader) but I have a child with a lexile of 500+! You can definitely tell who reads at home and who doesn't. It's sad. I told my friends that even if they just read for 10 minutes a day at home that they'd be doing themselves a favor. Many don't eat breakfast at school so I said well while you're waiting for mom/dad/older sibling to walk you to school, you could read a book. They think I am a genius because they never thought of that. It's probably the biggest thing I realize that I do like about 2nd grade -- the kids ARE impressionable and if you make something sound SUPER IMPORTANT most of them are going to try to do it because they want the teacher to be happy.
We are a PBiS school and we have building wide behavior posters that help to reinforce and remind the children what the behavior expectations are. We also have them in the classroom. I knew I would be getting children from the split so I purposely waited until Thursday to do our class poster with the children. We are the STARs (Safe, Take Responsibilty, Awesome Attitude and Respectful) so that is what is on all of our posters. We were talking about what it meant to "Take Responsibility" and one of my little friends said "that means if you are gone, we have to be really good so you aren't sad when you come back to school!" Love it!
I was worried Tuesday/Wednesday that I just couldn't do this. I just could NOT effectively teach 2nd grade. I was in over my head. The kids were going to suffer....but every day has gotten easier. Every.Single.Day. AND on Friday, when I have recess duty in the afternoon, my class was following the third graders in. One of my teaching partners was on the stairs waiting for her class to come in with her student teacher. When I rounded the corner with the middle of my class, her jaw dropped and she said "Oh my Gosh, is this your class?!" and I said yes, it was. She said she thought they were still the third graders because they were so quiet. I must've beamed the rest of the afternoon! I feel like I'm being a big meany to the children but when I really stop and think about it, I'm not saying mean things or treating them badly. I just have high expectations. And I have to say they are really rising up to meeting them!
I'm so proud of them and of myself. I didn't give up, I didn't go home crying that I hate my job....because I don't. Even last spring, although the change surprised me, I knew it was time for me to stretch my wings a bit. I can be effective even with younger friends. And they love me. They follow me around at recess when I have duty, they share with me things from their home lives and they draw me pictures. It makes me realize how lucky I am to be a teacher and get to touch lives like this.
This week I had four former students from last year come up to give me a hug when they were picking up younger brothers/sisters at school. They have all said that they're glad I was hard on them because middle school isn't so bad after all. That makes me feel good. I am so proud of those kids. They worked hard and I am lucky I got to be a little part of their lives. Yesterday one of my former students was at school while kids were being dropped off for our trip and he told me they put him in advanced math because of his MAP scores in my class. I was thrilled because he is a smart kid who just needs a little confidence in himself. He also told me that my biggest trouble maker already got suspended (the first day). Very sad.
Last night I took my own girls out to dinner after my long trip since I felt like I haven't been able to spend a ton of time with them this week with the start of school. The Oldest was asking me something about how many kids I have....and I added up all of the students I've taught since I had my first classroom (not counting the children I had as a student teacher) and including this year's class, I've had 177 students so far. That's a lot of children in only 6 years. If I count the kids I worked with during my field work, that I spent more than 12 weeks with, it's over 250. To know that I have touched lives in each of those classrooms is touching, humbling and overwhelming all at once. I haven't liked all of my students and they haven't all liked me...but we've worked well together and gotten things done. I think I can say I have failed very few kids (and most of the ones that I have it's more their parents' lack of support than because I didn't know how to do my job).
While some days I definitely wonder why I teach when politicians make it out like we're all a bunch of overpaid babysitters -- when I look out at my kids and look back at the impact that I hope I've had, I know that I couldn't do anything else with my life. Being a teacher is in my blood. And I'm proud of that.