Sunday, September 20, 2015
The gestalt is more than my individual interactions with each student. Individually they bustle about with their own stories but when a group of children are asked to coexist in one space it isn't always easy to predict the outcome. In years past we've characterized a class as "deep thinkers" "learners who need a lot of visual support and repetition" "inquisitive and high energy" and "fun and best suited to learning through exploratory play or games".
Our feeling this year - after only 6 days together - is that the makeup of our class is strongly defined by the sweet nature of our students and their desire to be good. This means they clearly want to please us even as they push boundaries a bit. I remember wanting to please my teachers too. I wanted that recognition of a job well done or acknowledgement of my effort. I saw this as what was meant by being fair. My intrinsic motivation was somehow intertwined with the extrinsic.
The goodness of our children can be seen in the way a little boy enters the room and after putting his things away, sits on the rug to wait for the morning to begin. How another boy carefully arranges the superhero book bin so all the covers are facing out. We see it when 2 girls decide they shouldn't sit together because they distract one another or when another child picks up a crumpled piece of paper that has been sitting under a table and throws it in the garbage.
Our first impressions will change and grow throughout the year but I do believe we are off to a good start. I see that my smiles, words of encouragement, subtle forms of acknowledgement and fairness will impact these children perhaps more than they have other classes.
I will be careful to remember the impact of my role as their teacher. Teachers - and all adults - can make a situation fun or a horror show depending on our reaction to a given situation. We can choose to become upset and dismissive or understanding and laugh off the inevitable mess children create. I choose to laugh. The trick is to follow through on these good intentions even when I am exhausted or sick or stressed out.
First impressions! I wonder how we - the teachers - did. How will this class characterize or define us?