Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Stories from School, Part One

While having a less rushed week over spring break, I thought I might muse a bit about some of my experiences now that I have returned to the elementary classroom. I have added a fourth grade group every afternoon, and am working in the computer lab before and after school every day. (My old home away from home when I taught middle school!) Now my day flies by. I am really happy with this job and all the kids I teach. I have already had lots of exciting days, humorous and heart-wrenching stories. Here are some of my recent notes about working with younger children.

1. Third grade children begin to lose their molar teeth, which curiously choose the time when they are in my room to leap out of their root sockets. Oh, yes, two in one week, with accompanying tears in one case at the unexpected blood, and triumph and gross-out points in the other! (Difference in 8-year-old girls and boys.)

2. When they issue the dreaded statement, "I feel like I'm goingI to throw up!" RUN, do not walk, to put the trash can next to their desk.

3. Children in third grade do not have sophisticated world views. We were reading a selection about the White House, and the areas in which tourists are permitted. One boy was getting noticeably upset, and finally declared it was ridiculous to admit tourists into ANY part of the White House! Turns out, he was confusing the term tourist with terrorist. Oh, my.

4. On the other hand, the world has changed quilte a bit since I last taught elementary school. My current school is in a very tiny town north of Raleigh, where generations of families have sent their children to the same school. The principal attended this school, and my partner in the mobile classroom has taught nearly everyone in town when they were in first grade. Now it is a school to which many children are assigned if they opt out of "Year-Round" school. I have children from Mexico, Cameroon, India, and Nigeria. Last week we celebrated International Culture Week, and there was a virtual parade of students from other nations on the school morning news show. They were so cute, speaking a few phrases in other languages.

5. I have two sets of twins! In my entire career before I retired, I don't remember ever having twins in my class. Now two sets! One set is in the same class, and the other two are in separate groups.
Well, better get going. Jean is coming to pick up her quilt this morning, and then I want to work on my last assignment for the online class: a triptych! My idea is to make a scene of the creek, dam, Christmas tree farm, log cabin, and other beloved spots from our mountain home. This one would be less "symbolic" than the deer/hillside picture, and hopefully more realistic. We'll see!

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