Saturday, January 31, 2009

Everything I needed to know, I learned in first grade...

One of my favorite things about teaching is that you can give 19 students the exact same materials for an art project, and every project turns out totally different.

Then, you can lay them out without names, and every student can find his own masterpiece without a pause.

It always reminds me of a cartoon I saw once of a room full of penguins. The one penguin is pointing out his girlfriend in the crowd. "Not that one, the pretty one!" he exclaims.

Every student is absolutely convinced that his or her project is, quite simply, The Best.

Several things I have learned from teaching?

  • You can say, "Put your name on your paper", sing the "Name on your paper: first thing!" song (to the tune of "Shave and a Haircut") until you are out of breath, have the student's neighbor touch a paper as a signal the name is missing, ask students to check ONE MORE TIME to see if a name is on the paper and...when you go to check the stack of papers, four papers are guaranteed to be without names.
  • When you pull out a camera to take a picture, children's hands immediately morph into bunny ears to put behind a classmate's head.
  • When a child comes to tell on another student, the first question you must ask (after hearing The Long Story) is, "What did you do?" Usually, there are slight omissions in the actual retelling of the incident. They would be details involving the teller.
  • I must keep a supply of vases in my classroom, because I am presented with flowers and plants (often with roots still attached) on a regular basis. Dandelions brought to the teacher clutched in a chubby fist are more beautiful than a dozen long stemmed roses.
  • The teacher is often quoted to the parents as The Leading Authority on Everything in the World. ("Well, Mrs. O said....") I am very careful of what I say.
  • I am given an endless supply of jokes like: "Why didn't the skeleton cross the road? He didn't have any guts!" Oh, that one still cracks me up. Even after 20 years of hearing it.
  • I am given credit that I do not deserve. Over the years, I have had various students think that I invented Playdoh and Silly Putty because those two substances (which have never met a carpet they couldn't ruin) are not allowed in the homes of six year olds. Only the classrooms, apparently. Where your tax dollars pay for the carpets.
  • At some point, every six year old in Texas discovers that our major grocery chain, H.E.B., is named after a man whose last name is "Butt". This always sends them into gales of laughter that are contagious, and can shut down learning for entire afternoons.
  • The song "Jingle bells, Batman smells" will never go away. Ever.
  • Do not tie wet shoelaces.
  • Never question or doubt the words, "But it's an EMERGENCY!"
  • Always look them in the eye when they are telling you a story. That is half of the fun.
  • The invention of glue sticks is God's reward for all the years teachers had to put up with Elmer's "liquid" glue.
  • Rounded student scissors can still cut just about any surface, with speed and efficiency.
  • Glue sticks feel an awful lot like Chapstick in my recess coat pocket.

Teaching. The pay is not great but the rewards, blessings and knowledge gained in a classroom of children? Priceless.


Craig Weeks said...

2 of the 4 students who can't/won't put their name on their paper will be in the U.S. Senate one day.

Here's a little girl who does her own bunny ears when necessary. I think you will enjoy her mom's writing:

I've been in a few deacon meetings where "What did *you* do?" would not have been out of place.

at His feet said...

loved this so much! so did syd and ben.