We start this blog with numbers. 33 students per class. 31 days into the school year. 24 days of this school year is one I've spent without a classroom, without knowledge of when I will procure one, and 24 days of spending time with my students in very small groups.
I blogged a while ago about how I felt like a stranger in my own school. This, to some extent, is still true. I feel like I don't really have anywhere to go at moments, or what is coming next [because the change looming on the horizon is great] but I do know that each passing day gets a little bit better. This week was a week that I actually have enjoyed, despite some sort of respiratory illness [my bet is on bronchitis] and working out too much and not being able to walk!
I wanted to share with you, readers, a few of my students. They did some amazing things in the past couple days, and left a smile on my face.
I'll start with Monday. Each day, we flip flop what we will teach - math or reading. On Monday, we did math and I thought I would teach some patterns. Not having any clue how to go about this, the guru [Zach Usmani] came over and explained patterns to me while I painted an accent wall in my living room. I was listening, but dreaming of all the ivory picture frames I could hang at the same time, I admit. Anyway, he explained, drew me a picture, and sent me on my way. When Monday came around, I forgot half of what he said! I had the picture, and remembered him saying "a pattern is something that repeats itself" and I went with it. What I came up with was this precious child and his AABB pattern. I had explained AB and ABB patterns, gave them 2 colors of blocks and asked them to show in the boxes the part that repeats. R's did not fit in the boxes, but he perfectly created, extended and identified his pattern, which felt like a big win to me! He is not my highest, he is not my lowest, but what just gets me about this is what we are always told: children will rise to the occasion. R certainly did.
Today was a reading day! I enjoy literacy days so much, mainly because I understand how to teach it a lot better! Today just about cracked me up. Every day, we have guided reading. I read, they read, we choral read, and then they whisper read. After they all finish whisper reading, we pair off and read to each other - one monitors "good reading" while the other reads, and then they repeat the process. The kids love it, and I love it because they feel excited about reading!
If any of you readers remember MJ from last year, this girl reminds me a lot of her. Neither one of these students know all of their letters and sounds, but watching them push each other to read, recognize sight words and correct each other is a powerful thing. I was so proud of both of these students this afternoon.
I often have to stop and remind myself that although the circumstances are not ideal, although space is limited and I'm often at my wits end, this is all worth it. Seeing their faces light up when they realize they read a 10-page book by themselves, or created a pattern that I hadn't taught them makes my job one that I do get up for in the morning.
To my fellow teachers reading this blog, it's October. We joke about this month being the month of disillusionment but please do your best to look for the good. It's there, I promise. :]