All in a Day’s Work

Two days of working with third graders has me feeling as if I have worked five complete days. It doesn’t help that I had to be at work at 7:30 and getting up in the dark is not my favorite; at least the ice and snow are in our rear view mirrors. Hopefully, though I did see the weather report; why do they want to mess up my parade. Today was flat out balmy. I didn’t care that it rained cats and dogs.

The third graders learned quite early in our two-day relationship that I’m a big softy. I let them come in my room instead of being outside. I had to draw the line at lunch as I wouldn’t survive the day if I didn’t have at least a twenty minute break. They suck me dry of all of my energy; it’s the constant go-go. Lots of drama as the kids work around relationships. I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day for this reason. Kids don’t have a filter and will just blurt out who is and who is not their friend, and that status can turn on a penny. Tears and sad looks got them anything. First day that is.

On the second day, I start asking for paybacks of those little things I “gave” them. Today my expectations were a little higher. Yesterday’s math class was hard as I didn’t know where the class range was. In order for me to figure out the average, I have to sort out those who are advanced and those who are behind. I use the behinders as my barometer.

Today’s math lesson was great knowing what I knew about the kids. I had the privilege of starting a unit for fractions. I started with a student’s paper. It had been in the recycling.

I showed the class the paper and asked the class what I had. It took a couple of tries to get a student who said I had a piece of paper. These days I’ll get a kid who will raise their hand, and then when I call on them they say, “they forgot.” I don’t remember this happening when I was in school. Most of the kids I hung out with never raised their hands. Why call attention to yourself?

I shocked the class when I ripped the paper in half. I then ask the student who’s paper it was whether he needed me to tape it back together or not; he panicked for minute before realizing he had done another. The kids were shocked. I was able to hook them after that, especially when I not only kept ripping the paper and talking about smaller fractions, but I threw the pieces up in the air.

I apologized to the janitor since that kind of modeling, only got the room looking like a ticker tape parade. I don’t think Trump will ever have one of those; no one would attend.

My own third grade teacher is probably rolling in her grave hearing me say that I did an amazing job teaching the unit on fractions. I had my brilliant way ahead of the game kid I could go to so I didn’t have to do do any computations, and I had the stragglers who started to get it. I didn’t let up. If I asked what three over three was to a student who didn’t get the answer right, and I would show here on the board and she got it, I would ask the kid right next to them and ask the same question. I had to explain it again. Went through that entire row and the fifth in the row got it. Different numbers, but same answer I started that same row again, and they got it. Every single one.

I noticed that every time I said You Got it, more and more kids were participating. Instead of a couple of white boards held high with the answer, by the end I had an entire class of boards held high.

On my first day with these eight-year-olds, I drank all of my travel mug as well as most of my thermos, and I was still exhausted. I apologize to my choir mates for yawning for two hours. Every time I’d open my mouth to sing, a yawn would take over. Today I didn’t even finish my travel mug. Instead of being drained of energy, I was revitalized. This doesn’t mean that I’m sorry that I have two half days of elementary kids to finish the week. I will enjoy my afternoons off. I have, after all, earned it.

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