Every teacher has preferences about what grade level they would rather teach. I feel it is good to get experience in all of the grade levels to be a more rounded teacher that better understands the flow of learning. However, experiences like I had in a first grade class this summer make me glad that I’ll be teaching fifth grade in the fall.
I always marvel at kindergarten and first grade teachers who at the beginning of the year look like they are herding cats down the hall way. Their little students wander aimlessly in the great wide world trying to get from point A to point B. Yet, by the end of the year they manage to teach their primary students complex activities such as walking in a line.
My class of first graders looked no different as I managed to get them into my classroom and seated. We had a short lesson and then we began a craft to further the lesson objective. Each child in my class was working hard coloring paper and then cutting it so that we could begin assembling our project. I sat down with a discipline student to help him get his project done when another boy I’ll call Gregory came up to me and said, “Hey Mr. Smith, look at this!” As I turned to Gregory I noticed two things. First, in his outstretched arm he held a few fingers full of fuzzy brown strands. Next, I noticed a bald spot where his bangs used to be! I didn’t know whether to laugh or to shout out, “What are you thinking?” I managed to stay calm and ask Gregory why his hair was in his hand. With a big smile on his face he proudly said that he had told the cute little girl he sits next to that she could cut his hair.
In the next few seconds the cute little girl looks up with fear in her eyes as she realizes that she may have done something wrong . Gregory tries to parade around showing his friends his hank of hair and soon discovers that the hole in his cool hair style may not be as fabulous as he had originally thought. I’m thinking how I’m going to explain to the parents how a child four feet away from me managed to get a partial hair cut.
In the end Gregory’s dad thought it was hilarious, Gregory’s mom was mortified and made Gregory wear a hat until his hair grew back in, and my two little first graders learned that it isn’t a good idea to cut each other’s hair.
We have all done things that at first seemed like a great idea, and later we found out that it wasn’t our best decision. By leaping before we think we sometimes find ourselves in a mess, but we hopefully learn from the experience. As I begin this school year I am going to continue to use the mistakes of my students as teachable moments to help them to avoid bigger mistakes later on in life. I’m also going to tell my primary colleagues how much I respect their efforts, because who knew that you have to tell students that school scissors are for cutting paper not your neighbors hair.
(Please tell me in the comments below of something a student in your class did that utterly amazed you.)