So this summer I started my teaching program and had the pleasure of working with a group of about 12 kids from surrounding elementary schools for a four week summer learning experience. The theme for the summer was the water cycle and I must say that even I learned a lot.
When I first found out I'd be working with a group of elementary school children I was a little skeptical. For the longest I always felt like I didn't want to be a semi-babysitter/nose wiper for crying children. My dream was to work at the high school level teaching History because I felt like middle school was too odd of a period for students and elementary school was that baby stage. A police officer at my job said I needed to be an elementary school teacher because that's how you can catch students early on and help put them on the path to success. I just remember telling him, "No, I don't have that maternal thing going that you need to be an elementary school teacher. I don't know how to deal with crying kids." I was so wrong.
The students in my class were sooooooo eager to learn. Everyone may not have had grade A behavior but even those kids who had a few gremlin outbreaks would sit down and do their work; even if it required a little persuasion (Can you say ten minutes off P.E. time?!) The students who caused "problems," which was about three in my class, ultimately wanted to please their teacher regardless of what had happened. You can get onto a student and ten minutes later, "Ms. Jones! Ms. Jones! Come look at what I did! Did I do this right? Do you like mine?" It really takes me back to my own elementary school days. I never came into work praying and hoping that student X, Y, or Z didn't come today but there was always that concern of how are they going to be today. "Is s/he going to do their work today? Am I going to have to send them to the principal again? I really don't feel like calling this kid's parent today."
One major thing that I did learn is kids have a major issue thinking for themselves even when it comes to things that are just about them. During our Morning Meeting I always tried to have activities were students had to share a fun fact about themselves, a favorite book or movie, what they thought a quote meant, etc. I did have one student in particular who was always saying, "I don't know" in regards to these questions when his turn came. The most amusing thing is always when one student says something and then three or four other kids say the same exact thing. It's so painful because you want them to think for themselves and my ultimate fear is that when they get to middle/high school they'll be easily influenced into doing things that are not in their best interest.
My favorite thing though had to be the feeling I experienced on the last day. My paraprofessional had informed me that the kids had asked about me the day since I had to attend classes all day Wednesday and Thursday. As soon as I walked into class I was bum rushed by my kids for hugs. "I've missed you Ms. Jones! Where have you been?!" My favorite was another student informing me that someone had yet to get up and give me a hug. Why? I just thought it was cute. They wanted to know if they'd see me again and what school I was going to be at next year, both for which I had no answer to...yet. There was the girl from another class who was constantly telling me how I pretty I was and the student who promised to teach the pledge in Spanish. It just seemed so easy to develop relationships with these kids. You didn't even have to teach them. Just play with them at P.E. or ask them to teach you something and you were like their best friend.
I didn't cry or any sappy thing like that but I am a little sad that I have no clue if I'll ever see them again because I'd really like to know how their 3rd/4th/5th grade school years are going. I learned so much about this group of kids and they've learned a lot about me along the way as well. They've also provided countless funny stories for me to share with classmates and such. I know that the class I have in the Fall isn't going to be exactly like this one in regards to size, learning levels, at home life, and parent support but I'm excited to see what the future holds.