Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Whole New Set of Challenges

We've had eight full days of school now, and I can say that I was not wrong to fall in love with this group so early on. They're hard workers full of personality, and they have brilliant thoughts and ideas to share with the world. In my class, I have:

  • a handful of sports stars - Seriously, ask them anything about wrestling or football, and I think they'd be able to answer.
  • a superhero expert - This guy loves him some superheroes, and he will excitedly share his knowledge with you at the drop of a hat.
  • a Transformers expert - He has shared his "research" (his terminology, not mine) on Transformers, and he knows way more than I ever knew a person could know about them.
  • a handful of introverts - They're quiet, but I know they're learning right along with the more chatty kiddos. I can't wait to get more into their worlds this year.
  • a handful of kiddos who march to the beat of their own drums - They make me smile multiple times a day with their laughs and off-the-wall questions and comments. 
  • some amazing readers and writers - I can't believe what these young people are doing! It simply amazes me!
I'm completely blown away by how much more mature my students are than they were at the end of last year. They are "trained" in how our school operates, and they follow directions quickly. They just know so much more than they did last year. It's the greatest feeling in the world! I still find myself grinning as I walk down the hallway with my class, and my favorite answer to any question about how my year is going is, "It's fantastic!"

This year has been the polar opposite of last year, but with that difference comes a whole new set of challenges. Because I don't have to worry about the behavior and management issues I had last year, I have more time to think about my actual instruction. I'm constantly asking myself if I'm being everything I need to be for my students. As I've mentioned before, I read Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess this summer. In the book, Dave talks about the importance of creating a classroom environment that students want to be a part of. As I walk around the room watching my kiddos fill out their handwriting worksheets and workbook pages, I know I am not living up to the potential Dave would say I have. That bothers me. 

I keep telling myself that I have time to become that teacher. Unfortunately, as in life, some things we have to do even though they aren't incredibly engaging. I'm working to be more okay with this idea; not everything can be filled with un-containable energy. (I wonder what that would look like anyway...) It's okay to be calm and focused on simply getting better from time to time. On the bright side, we have had a handful of successful, highely-engaging activities. We blogged last Friday, and we made these movies on Thursday. My kiddos latch onto the use of technology, and I can use that excitement in the future. They also love to laugh, so I've tried to be silly from time to time. I incorporate a number of brain breaks to keep our brains active and to be respectful of the fact that we're a room full of 6 year-olds and sometimes we just need a break. GoNoodle can wake my kiddos up in the matter of minutes.

I hope to continue adding little details here and there to evolve my classroom into the highly creative and engaging environment Dave describes in his book. In the meantime, I'm trying my hardest to be content with what I have done so far. After all, I am only one person with only a limited amount of time to spend creating. It's not going to happen overnight. 

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