The Last Day is Almost Here.

June 5th, 2008

When I go to work tomorrow there will be 4 hours and 15 minutes of school left for the year. Aahhh, a nice feeling to have the end in sight. And yes, teachers enjoy summer vacation and look forward to the last day of school just as much, if not more, than the kids do.

And this has been a rough year. My class was a revolving door of students. We’d lose a student and gain a new one about every 2 weeks for the first 3-4 months of school. The school secretary loves to show people the in/out form for my class. Which, while amusing for the office staff was difficult for my kids. They never quite gelled into a well functioning group. Last year’s group had a lot of quirky behaviors but the kids were consistent so everyone in the class knew what to expect and how to react. This year the kids would panic if their friend was sick for a day in fear that they went to a new school – just like all the other kids in our class. They had to try and learn how each new student was going to act in the classroom and how much of my attention the new student was going to take away from their share and that was hard. With 20 kids, I can only give them so much one-to-one a day, but when it’s a consistent 20 I can rotate myself throughout the week making sure nobody is ignored and I don’t have to spend hours teaching a new child routines and rules.

I also had boys. Lots and lots of boys. And I don’t care what people say, boys and girls think, act and learn in a very different manner from each other. Boys need to be active. They truly do not hear as well as girls so the room is louder (both me and them). Their language develops later which can have an effect on their communication with other and therefore make problem solving in a non-physical way much more difficult. As a whole, boys have a harder time following multiple step directions which means I need to repeat myself about a 1000 times a day. And when the boys out number the girls 2:1 a teacher needs to scrap their whole teaching style and get a new plan – quick. And the plan needs to be simple, consistent and active. And I’m not in anyway implying that boys are any less intelligent than the girls. I’m saying at 5 & 6 years old, girls can handle sitting in their seats, talking quietly, working on worksheets, sharing, sitting and listening to an entire story and not need much re-direction. At 5 & 6 years old boys can listen to an entire story but they do that and pick up fuzz from the carpet and stick it in their friend’s ear. They work on worksheets at their table while standing, sitting on the table, laying on the table, or (my personal favorite), standing in their chair. My girls raised their hands to talk. My boys raised their hands and figured if their hand was up they could just start talking. Teaching a classroom of 13 boys is like trying to teach a classroom of hummingbirds on caffeine.

In all my years of teaching, this will be the class that I tell stories about. This is the class that drove substitute teachers to their breaking point. This is the class that had to go through boot camp, twice. This is the class that ate (yes, ate) their naps mats. This is the class that would look me straight in the eye and say “Make me.” This is the class that spent 3 weeks practicing walking in the stairs instead of going to recess because they didn’t think I would make them. This is the class that redefined the term “difficult children”. This is the class that taught me that I am a really, really good teacher.

Because this year over half my class left kindergarten reading at a first grade level, some at second grade.

This class can do math like nothing else.

This class has kids who along with wanting to be Superman or Spiderman also want to be astronauts, paleontologists, president,  police officers,  archeologists,  scientists and a whole other list of careers.

This class loved reading chapter books and begged their parents to go to the library.

And in 4 hours and 15 minutes graduation will be over. They will be first graders. And I’ll have 3 months to re-group before I meet my new class.

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