Yesterday I had a delightful, as well as maddening, time with second graders at Howard Elementary School in Eugene. Eugene ought to be proud of the new buildings that are popping up. Lots of windows and light; the buildings are so open and spacious.

Second graders haven’t grown into the part of their brain that appreciates things. I remind myself that there’s so much more growth ahead of them, though I don’t want to put any of them in a box; there are always one or two that are ahead of their peers as are the ones that are behind the general population.

Curiosity is the forefront of their thinking. They aren’t that far ahead of the toddler on the ground that insists on finding out what things taste like. For example, in the hallway of this brand new facility, there was a display of two elves having a snowball fight. Little bitty marshmallows were spread all over the place. I was the first one to see the display and knew to step around them. Even though I told the kids to not step on them, these words were soon forgotten or perhaps seen as a challenge. I probably gave the idea to step on them to some students who hadn’t thought of it.

Towards the end of the day, the snowballs were flattened. And then I was given a report. Second grader’s favorite problem-solving strategy, perhaps their sole strategy is to tell on each other; this is  the most tiring thing. One girl announced to the class that so and so ate one of the  marshmallows, which the student vehemently denied. The accuser brought in testimony, “You just whispered in my ear that you ate one and asked me to not tell anyone.” The little girl with the long light red hair didn’t look like a student that caused problems. The other girl was so delighted in telling on her might have been making it up to give her something to crow about. I had never met these kids before.

Now when Anthony’s name came up, for the millionth time of the day, I wasn’t surprised that he was being accused of eating a marshmallow off the ground. I had already seen him in action all day, doing things that he had no clue why he did them, or least that was his story and he stuck to it every time. So I went back to the little girl, and that’s when she stepped into the trap. “But Anthony ate one, too” as if that was a reasonable reason.

Curiosity got one little guy in trouble in science class. They were given rocks and little plastic magnify glasses. They were looking at Chrystals. He was probably wondering what would happen if he slammed two rocks  together. A prehistoric thought. He had no notion that if I slam these two rocks together and they break, I might get into trouble. Too many thoughts for this  little guy, but in a matter of a minute or two he had made several rocks and a bit of rock dust. Instead of being rewarded for his creativity and investigative mission, he was banned from participating.

Another managed to break the little fifty cent magnify glass, but has no idea how it happened. Thinking backward is a skill that’s just forming.

I’m realizing that I struggle with classroom management at this age because I have a hard time getting mad at them; when it gets loud, they are engaged. Usually an aide or another staff member will tell the class to stop talking. It hadn’t occurred to me that the open and spacious classrooms would not be conducive to energetic classrooms. Maybe I have more in common with the second graders brain development than I realized.



  1. How about making some rules at the outset of the class… no “telling on anybody” at all. No negative comments, no whining or moaning, you will only accept positive thoughts expressed in a civil manner.

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