Sunday, September 20, 2015

First Impressions

The school year is underway and we are off to a wonderful start. Each year I wonder about the dynamic of the class.  How will the class inhale and exhale as we find new life together?  What adjectives will describe the interplay of our shared experience?

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?


37paddington said...

The children in your class sound like wonderful little humans. I can hear your joy in teaching in this post and I feel grateful as a parent that this is the life you chose.

Gary said...

A friend told me we are still in the "honeymoon" phase when everyone is on his/her best behavior but I think I have a handle on this group of children. I cannot believe I have been teaching for 20 years now. It still feels like it is my first in terms of energy and happiness that I get to do this every day. I hope it lasts.

Pauline said...

Such encouraging observations. I remember that characterizing of a class - it' doesn't take long, does it, to recognize how children act and interact, not only with each other but with you as teacher. Since retirement, I've taken to volunteering one day a week at my granddaughters' preschool. It is always an enriching experience and I come away form my "does" of small kids feeling great. Tired, but great :)

Gary said...

How wonderful that you have the opportunity to volunteer. They are lucky to have you.

My thoughts about this class seem to be holding up and I am very happy with all the ingredients of this class recipe.

Mrs. VandeVelde said...

I enjoyed reading through your blog site!!
I love the beginning of the new school year and meeting my new students.
I have one guy who I had in 2nd grade small group, put him out in 3rd grade in gen. ed. with support and moved him to his home school in gen. ed. with me as his itinerant!!
He's now in 7th grade middle school and I visit his school 2X month unless he needs help with something or needs technology assistance. My job is to train his gen. ed. teachers in the use of accommodations to make it possible for Josmar to be with his peers successfully!!
Have a wonderful year Gary!

Gary said...

Suzan - Thank you! Your comment brought a smile to my face because I always appreciate knowing who is reading (and IF anyone is reading). I now have so many questions about the work you do and look forward to reading your blog as well. I hope you are having a wonderful year too!


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