Thursday, August 27, 2009

How I spent the first day of first grade.

Remember when you were in elementary school and some mysterious woman would come pull the really smart kids out of your class for an hour a day? Remember watching their giddy faces as they rushed to the door; meanwhile you sat at your desk and completed some remedial task like a spelling test or a page 378 in your workbook? Remember when they would come back with huge smiles on their faces, like they had been watersliding while eating cotton candy for an hour? Remember how it felt to be an average kid - never getting to go to resource or the secret society of smart kids, reduced to a life of monotony and frivolous busy work? Well, the average kid is getting his revenge as he is now teaching the smart kids... all day long.

Ha ha ha (Imagine that laughter in my snide, evil tone, while I am tilting my head back and holding my belly)

My wife was in "ELP" (She just gave me the code name to her secret brainiac elementary school sect) and she has no sympathy for me. I'm too "average" to care.

I have to say that I was blown away on the first day of school today. It was an incredible day. An incredibly fun day.

I have 17 kids in my class. 17!!! If that is not miraculous enough, all of them read at least at a fourth (spelled correctly this time, Ms. Correct the Gifted Class Teacher) grade level. If that is not astonishingly astounding enough, they all - or almost all - behaved like little robots, programed to be genius and adorable. Honestly, it was like teaching a classroom full of Vikki the Robots, except none of them could dunk a basketball. (At least that I saw, but it is still early in the year) Lincoln would fit in very well with this group.

I began my instruction at the same level that I ended with my class from last year. It took me 2 minutes to determine that this level was entirely too low. We were reading as a whole class and the kids were all reading faster than I could point. I tried to do a bit of math. Most were clearly beyond even the second grade problems I was throwing at them.

- Sigh -

Challenging these kids is going to be a challenge. A challenge most teachers would die for. I shouldn't say that, there are some very old first grade teachers out there.

I've never been so excited as a teacher! I'm only starting to grasp where I can take these kids. I can teach things that would never be possible in a regular first grade. It's going to be a superb year.

If I could only figure out how to program these kids. I've seen every episode of "Small Wonder", but I am fairly certain none of them have control panels in their backs. Of course, I am just "average".


Tammy said...

Once again I have to say how much I hated "Small Wonder"!

Sounds like you're going to have a great year! I didn't know Cathi was an ELP but I guess I should have guessed it.

Esther said...

I was ELP and I hated it. But that's because the teacher was a witch. I'm sure your kids will love it. My ELP didn't have anything to do with math and reading. It was all "thinking" problems, and imagination exercises.

brermomo said...

Most of my kids really hated the TAG classes (talented and gifted--that name was only the beginning of what was bad about some of these classes.)
It's nice that your kids aren't taken out of their regular classes (where, in my experience, they have to make up all the work--as well as missing some of the fun)

Please don't have your students do wildly brainiac things like, "Imagine you are a refrigerator and write a paper on it." One of my kids spent the whole semester building the Titanic (it was that era, of course) with everyone else in the class. They ALL made one Titanic. I do believe that was the teacher who took a leave of absence the year later because of mental problems. I hope it wasn't because of the class. I doubt it, because I went to "Back to School Night" where already she was spinning a little, and that was at the first of the year. David was very happy the next year when we gladly said he didn't need to go off with the "Talented and Gifted" folk.

Maybe you could ask my kids what NOT to do. They might have some good answers for you--IF they haven't blocked the whole experience.

And somehow, the kids need to be taught that they aren't the greatest thing on earth. I just heard a good interview on NPR yesterday and put the book on reserve at the library. It's called "Nurtureshock--new thinking about children" by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. (Despite their names, they had some interesting thoughts about working with children) One chapter deals with "praise."

Hmmm...I got a little carried away there, didn't I.

My opinion: Children don't need to be told "You're a select group."
"You have a great responsibility because of your gifts."
"Brains and creativity are more important than common sense and braun." "You are going to be great leaders of other kids your age."

They just need to be given experiences to grow and learn.


Lori said...

Hooray! It sounds like you made a great move in taking this new position!

Traci said...

Did your principal know you were just "average" before you were asked to teach these above-average robots? BTW, in the 80's in Murray school district, the super-smart kids like me and Spencer got to go to "Perspectives"...

brermomo said...

Oh, and what I should have said was, "Good luck! I'm glad you had a great day! and...The kids will love you." Instead I got a bit carried away.

Cheeseboy said...

Ha ha Aunt Margaret! You make some excellent points and have some great advice and some funny stories.

Don't feel at all bad for your comments.

Since you clearly have had experience at this from the parent perspective, I may ask your advice during the year.