Archive | March, 2016

real talks

18 Mar
Today we took our second grade English Language Learners on a field trip to the Genessee Country Village and Museum to learn about maple sugaring.  It was a pretty sweet trip, there is a TON of hands on stuff for the kids to really experience the process, and we had a great day.  Even I learned a ton.  I’ve never been on any maple sugaring tours, so this was all new for me, and I loved it!
What I love most about field trip days is the chance to interact a little less formally with the kids.  To have some “real talk” with them.  To play around, to worry less about curriculum and tests and more about raising good citizens. 
On the bus this morning, a student asked if she could lay on my shoulder “to rest” before the trip. I of course said sure. I thought she had fallen asleep. Suddenly she sits up.
Her: *huge sigh and exasperated tone* this is taking too long.
Me: I know. I’m sorry, baby. I told you it was going to be a long ride here.
Her: No! Not that!
Me: OK then what?
Her: Getting to be a teenager. It’s taking too long to get to be a teenager.
Me: *trying not to laugh* You will be a teenager soon enough.  And then one day you’re going to wake up and be an old lady like me and not know how that happened.
Her: *pauses to think about it* You’re not old.
**Lays back down.**
Teaching is cool. Seeing the learning actually happening, watching them progress every day, sharing in their successes (and yes, failures)…all those things are incredible. I can’t even tell you how jazzed I am watching my kindergarteners actually reading or writing when in September most of them were brand new to the country and spoke little to no English.  It’s thrilling to have my former students come back to read to my littles and hear them reading and pretending to be teachers (very convincingly, I might add).  Seeing kids doing the right thing without me asking–helping their friends out, sharing toys or food, using their manners.  These things are amazing, and I wouldn’t trade being a teacher for anything (despite all of the bullshit that also comes with teaching–you take the good with the bad, I guess). 
But nothing beats being able to interact with them more informally and talk about “real life” and hear their thoughts and feelings.  To meet families at after school events (last week, Eric and I hung out with two of my kids’ families at a science night and taught the families words and did experiments with them and it was uber fun).  To learn about their cultures (another student today explained to me that when he was little he got to machete the goat’s head and then they ate all of it, including the eyeballs and drank its blood–so that was a nice story haha).  To put aside the vowel digraphs, consonants, spelling words, grammar lessons…and just be real with them.  To watch them be kids (fascinated by the worms on the ground and the potential for seeing a deer in the woods) and explore. 
Also I sang Justin Bieber with them today and they were all so excited that I forgot to be ashamed that I know the lyrics to Justin Bieber.
I know most of my friends would judge me if I suddenly started belting out Biebs (except for Valone, who’d sing along), but man do my second graders think I’m even cooler now than they thought I was before.