I am in a bit of a slump as a teacher. I went from being a first grade teacher for many years to being a specialist- I now teach science to grades 1-3. It has been a great change for me in most regards. But I do miss the closeness between the classroom teacher and his or her 24 or so young souls stuck in a room together for so many hours, through so much growth.
So I remind myself to take the long view- I will know my students for less time each year, but I will be their science teacher for three years. And if I value knowing them personally I hope to find the care and affection that I always felt for each of my first graders.
Today was an engineering day for third grade. They were finally taking their group designs to the build and test phase. They are using at least two simple machines to move two pounds of potatoes six feet along the floor and 29 inches up to the table (aka loading dock.) Most were thrilled to get their hands on materials and go.
G. was not. She is a child who came to our school in first grade behind in language and academics. She has made remarkable progress and I love to think on it. She has also made good friendships and is a kind friend herself. But she can be socially and emotionally distracted and not always focused on MY agenda. Today she was morose, and she moped on over to me and told me she just didn’t want to do it.
I could tell from her drawing that she was stuck. She hadn’t really understood the four simple machines we had experimented with. I was counting on the building and testing- the application- to fill in gaps. She wasn’t having it. So, I made my first right decision. I excused her.
I told G. that she could be a watcher in her group for awhile. She could watch them work and see what was going on.
And then we had a shortage of wheel and axle systems (little shoe box cars.) G. found a box lid and started getting into the materials. She pulled out a small pulley and put it to the side of the box.
My right decision number 2. I leapt over there- “G., you are right! The pulleys could be wheels for the car! I wonder… if we tape them to the box by the silver frame , can the wheels still spin?”
She smiled and went for the tape.
My third and fourth right decisions? I told my next two third grade classes all about how G. solved our car problem. I made her famous for the day.
A small success, but I’m celebrating.