Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy first week of school!

I have never been pregnant, but I am comparing the first week of school to preparing for the baby and then taking care of him. I spent so much of August working on school stuff, and when August 25 rolled around, I realized the work had just begun.

The difficult part about the first day of school is the fact that my third graders come in, for all intents and purposes, as second graders. And second graders who have had two months off. I just forget, is all. I forget that they need to be taught how to sharpen a pencil, and where to keep their markers, and to wash their hands each time they go to the bathroom. I forget that they don't know me, they don't think I'm funny, they are terrified of third grade, and they are definitely not independent students.

I also really miss my kids from last year. I knew them so well, and when they come back to hug me before they head on to the big fourth grade, my heart just melts.

I'll be honest, it's hard to like this new group of kids on the first day.

Day two is a little easier. I've introduced all of my procedures, but they don't remember a single one. I spend a lot of our morning repeating instructions. Over and over. "Please remember to raise your hand." "Remember, your homework folder goes in your bookbag at the end of each day." "We're quiet in the hallway, don't forget!"

Of course, I forgot to turn in those forms to the office...again.

But today, today was different.

Today, I started teaching. I got into some actual content. I set up my reader's and writer's workshop. They worked on some real math. I did running records. I finally got my head above water, and during my planning period, I read through the surveys I had parents fill out during Open House.

I loved their answers. Reading through the responses, I was reminded how special these little guys are to their moms and dads. I loved hearing what they're interested in, and how parents ask me to deal with discipline issues ("no dessert works!"). "We're big goofs at home." "He's very close to his family."

Yesterday, we drafted a "Promise to Each Other." It's a little cheesy, but straight out of Debbie Miller's Reading with Meaning, and she's pretty much amazing.This morning, I woke up early to get vanilla wafers and animal crackers. I got to school early, cut some butcher paper and taped a border around the paper. Before lunch, we had a "signing ceremony." I played Jack Johnson's "With My Own Two Hands" and we snacked while the kids went up, one at a time. Later, I almost fell on my face, standing on a table to tack the promise on the wall.

At the end of the day, we had our first family meeting. They complimented each other, wrestled when I turned my back, and danced to our pack- up song at the end of the day.

All in all, a great first week.

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