On Being Grateful

I spent two days subbing in second grade and one day with the three year olds. It filled me with awe, amazement and such a sense of “we can do it!” I’ve known most of these second graders since their days in Toddlers. Subbing in a wide range of grade and age levels is an incredible privilege. I have seen these children grow, watch them learn and navigate their social-emotional learning and their math, reading and writing/academic skills. These experiences are a microcosm of life’s journey. School is not about getting “ready,” school is about their life now. As  many who read my blog know, I am an observer. I learn by watching, waiting to see where I’m needed and ask “why” before jumping in. The road to not fixing things hasn’t been easy, nor at times successful for me. From the heart that is ready to help, comes the slow understanding that, taking over, making it better, means I problem solve, not the person who needs to build the resilience to figure things out. And so I continue to learn.

I can’t say it enough times, how important I feel it is to build trusting relationships with our students (and with their parents). The sense that we care is inherent in this foundation. Implicit is the joy we have in teaching (if not, maybe time for another career choice).

Now how I see this played out in the classroom; a vignette or two. Morning meeting, responsive classroom games, some new, some I know. Kids kindly explain the game, I succeed, they applaud, cheer me on. I’m the guest, kids ask questions to learn about me. Answers surprise them, some do the “I’m the same or I relate” motion. I smile from ear to ear. Time to let then know who I am, time to build that trust.

Settling down at their desks, 2nd graders get books. It’s time to read. They choose, no leveled books. From graphic novels, to chapter books to Mo Willem books to non fiction, they read.  Daily 5 Rotations: RAZ kids on the iPad, small groups, Read To Someone, Word Work, they’re all busy. They now how this routine works.

Now it’s writing. Expanding on a letter they’re writing about a book they like and why someone should read it. New rubric to check their work. They’re good at sharing their work with me as they look at their checklist. Some start right away. I look around and wait to see what they need to get started. Again I reflect on how much they know and how at ease they are, even when unsure. It’s a safe learning space for them. How I wish it were so for everyone!

It’s math time and I get to play a game as part of the math rotation. They’ve played this before. Reinforcing regrouping. I ask if they can show me how they play this with ones, tens, and hundred units and dice. Excitedly, they tell me they’ll show me. When needed we used a wipe board to add another layer to the work. They helped each other. A safe place when mistakes are made and we figure it out together.

Base Ten 

Wednesday with the 3s. A different experience. Some of these children I met last year when they were in Toddlers. Some remember me from subbing in the class next door. Some know me because I taught their siblings. Some are comfortable asking me to read a story. Some stay away till a friend comes over and they join in. It’s all good. We’re learning about each other. It’s all good.  We have time.

It’s getting close to Thanksgiving. A very different one for me this year. But for now my constant is working with kids. I’m grateful. I always have been, when I’m at school.

And now my questions to you? It’s been a few months into the school year and how do you feel your students have settled into their routines? For some, Parent Teacher Conferences are in full swing. Are you comfortable with the relationships you’ve built with your students and families? Were you able to share with the parents all the positives about their children?

Grateful and gratitude. Life never taken for granted. Family, friends, colleagues, far or close by wishing you a great Thanksgiving.

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