Tuesday, September 10, 2013

WE can do it!

I knew I was in trouble the first day of school.  From the minute kids started filing in, chatter filled the room.  For those of you who are not used to the elementary classroom, the first few days are usually filled with hushed whispers as the kids try to figure out what their new teacher and routines will be like.  They are tentative and unsure of themselves.  They ease into a comfortable rhythm of what our classroom will become.

Well, this group was different.  26 eager, happy and chatty fourth graders joined me in Room 114 three weeks ago.  The bell rang, the chattiness continued.  I did the little clap thing to get kids quiet, they returned the clapped pattern, and then continued to chat.  During read aloud, one of the boys got up to check himself in the mirror.  A few minutes later, someone else got up to sharpen a pencil.  We don't even need a pencil during read aloud on the first days of school!

Now, I need to pause here to clarify...these are great kids.  Each and every one is respectful and polite.  I am lucky to have supportive families.  But there was something about the combination.  I knew I was going to have to slow way down to build our classroom community.  I couldn't assume that we were going to just slip into our new routine easily.  WE were going to have to work at it (a little like being married).

WE've had lots of conversations about what WE need to build the kind of learning environment where everyone can do his best.  WE've gone back to revise our thinking, change some routines, and reflect on how things are going.  WE've worked together to create a place where there is room to have conversations (at the right time), and get up and move (again, at the right time) that works for us.  I realize that what's worked in the past for other groups isn't necessarily going to work for us this year.

I can happily say that we are on the right track now.  I breathed an early sigh of relief yesterday as our morning ran smoothly.  "We did it!"  I thought to myself.  However, when I went to pick them up from Music, Mrs. Brandt informed me that they had been very chatty and she wasn't very happy.  Ok...so we still have work to do.

They have a sub today, and I'll be anxious to see how they do while I'm gone.  I'm going to hope that what WE've been working towards is going to seep in and Mrs. Taylor is going to have a fantastic day.  If not, WE will take a deep breath, readjust, and try again.  All is good!