The past week or so has been testing, to say the very least. I didn't come here with unrealistic expectations for myself or my students, nor do I believe I romanticized what this experience would be like - nevertheless, sometimes I think that nothing could have prepared me for what I've been through so far, or what is yet to come. I remind myself on a daily basis that my students' daily struggles are much more complex and trying than my own, and that many of them have yet to build coping mechanisms or behaviors to help them deal.
A few of my students are being shuffled into other classes - clashing personalities and behaviors made learning (and teaching) difficult, and thankfully the support staff here identified this need. Meanwhile, I'm constantly trying to find a balance in my own teaching and planning - I want to be liked by my students, for them to enjoy learning, I want my students to enjoy coming to school - especially with a high drop out rate (yes, even at grade 3). Meanwhile, however, I need to set clear expectations for their behavior and instill a certain work ethic in my students. These students will have to work much harder to get wherever they might aspire to go - convincing them that everything I do for them is in their best interest, I think, will be the hardest part of this job.
I am now into my fourth week as a teacher and getting more and more comfortable in my own classroom. Since discovering my inner goof, I have aspirations to become a great story teller (currently studying one of the all time greats - Robert Munsch) and can successful get 20 students to sit STILL for a whole 5 minutes on the carpet while I read. I've got 4 literacy centers going in the mornings, and now that I think students are easing into the routines well, I'll be starting guided reading groups this week (*fingers crossed*). I'm quite proud of my students in the morning - they settle in well, and hopefully students "run" our morning routine by November, all by themselves. We're beginning a letter-writing unit tomorrow that will go for the next two weeks, and after learning that Robert Munsch writes back to all classes that write him, I'm planning to have students write Bob for the grand finale of the unit. We just completed a study of soil in science - the kids love bringing in worms after rainy days to add to our classroom compost - not to mention watch the food scraps as they collect fuzz and rot. The thing I am most excited about, however, is our independent reading time - which has improved by leaps and bounds this past week alone. Since I've "amped up" my read-alouds, covered "what a good reader looks like (and doesn't look like)", and provided a few small incentives, my kids are actually reading, or even just picking up books - which is sooo exciting and satisfying. Many are using reading strategies we've covered... On Thursday, they read quietly for 25 minutes. I almost cried of happiness - not even kidding.
Some days, most days, I am so thankful for for my supportive and loving family - I had an amazing childhood. I am thankful for the network of teachers here, and for a very supportive administration. I am thankful for yoga and hot tea. Most of all, thank you to friends, family, and family-to-be who call, send me long emails of home and care-packages (even if they have yet to arrive!)