Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Just Watch

little kid has really lucked out again this year as far as teachers go.

Last year his teacher was a prettier, more emotional version of Mary Poppins and I was positive no one could ever compare.

Shockingly, this year's teacher does. She is the sweetest, most patient, soft spoken person I have ever met. You can tell she is naturally better with the kids than she is with adults and that she truly enjoys their company. The other day I was volunteering and she nudged me and told me to look at Gage and Cooper. I did. Their hands were in the fish tank.

She smiled with a closed mouth, holding back a giggle. And just watched them, quietly pleased.

"Sometimes I just like to see what they will do. You know? I just like to wonder what they are thinking."

I wondered what the fish were thinking.

"They're so funny. They're my friends and I just like to watch them and let them be who they are. If I ever stopped enjoying them, I would quit this job. I really do like to be with them."

And she does. I've never seen her raise her voice or lose control. Interestingly, she doesn't really try to maintain any control. The kids are pretty much free to wander around as they need to, move to another area if they'd like more space, remain at their table during floor time if they want, and make their own choices...and this works 98% of the time and the other 2% she happily chalks up as a learning experience. It never feels as chaotic as you would think such loosely enforced guidelines would in a first grade classroom.

She will let them each choose a treat from a huge bag of mixed candy and she will stand there patiently smiling while they take the decision as seriously as choosing a life partner. "Friends? I know choosing can be hard, but let's remember that our friends are waiting to make their choice too," she says in her hypnotic, sing song voice.

"I'm surprised you don't just...you know...save time and get one type of candy." I mentioned one day.

"They do a really great job. You'd be surprised. I'm really proud of their ability to make a decision."

One day I came in to find their desks in what I would call complete disarray and she proudly told me that they had rearranged the room that day, and that she had let the children decide on the layout and where they would sit. I gave her an incredulous look and she said the vice principal had given her the exact same look. She then went on to tell me how seriously they took the decision--little kid and his love interest even decided not to sit at the same table, when the love interest declared she would get no work done if she was staring at him all day long.

"They all did a great job, I was so proud. I think the room looks wonderful." She beamed and they beamed back at her.

And suddenly that crazy room did look wonderful. Could you ask for anything more than a calm, reasonable adult who respects the intelligence, ability, and free spirit of your child? While still teaching them everything from which way to write their numbers to multiplication?

But I did notice that room layout didn't last for long.

8 comments:

Tara said...

Teachers like that are born not made. little kid is blessed that he's gotten such great teachers. Teaching is a career where the older teachers eat the young. Which is really unfortunate. I hope she can survive.

The Ludwigs said...

I love that you are so appreciative of your childrens' teachers - I hope you send last year's a card telling her she is a prettier Mary Poppins - how wonderful would if be to get something like that???

Nikky said...

What a sweet post. I hope I'm that kind of teacher someday (when I finally manage to finish school).

Wiley37 said...

It's sounds like that teacher subscribes to the "progressive" model. My 10 year old goes to a progressive school and that's how it is all the time all over the place. The class gets together in the morning for a business meeting where they discuss what needs to be done that day, then the kids are set loose to take care of the work as they see fit. There are kids lying around on the floor working, kids with neat little piles working, kids on computers... Kids direct the projects they do in science. If they are studying earthworms there could be 10 different projects related to earthworms going on. My daughter received flute, violin and voice lessons as well. She has been moved ahead a year in math and is reading at a 12th grade level (she is 10). . There is a teacher who has started a community garden and the children grow the vegetables and give them away to the elderly folks in the neighborhood. It's amazing to see how the entire school works to create natural learners. I am so happy your son is having this experience.

Anonymous said...

She sounds wonderful! How many students are in his class? I have 27 students and if I let them talk much, half of the kids complain they can't focus and get their work done.

sarah said...

She sounds amazing. I wish my 5 y/o would get a teacher like that next year when he's in kindy-he has special needs and requires a very understanding adult.

Ashley said...

There are 18 kids in the class and it really doesn't get loud. That's what's surprising, they all still mostly behave. The other day someone stole a dollar from someone else and after a very brief, calm, quiet intervention from her, the two kids worked it out themselves with the dollar promptly returned with an apology. No principal, no disappointed voice even! It does make for a nice calm atmosphere.

Wiley, that school sounds amazing!

Sarah, there really is hope. These two teachers were truly made for the profession. Big Kid's current teacher is awesome too, in a creative/academic way and I greatly appreciate that too.

asnell said...

My boys had a kindergarten teacher just like her. She was so sweet and soft I thought the first day "she's going to get run over". All she has to do is ring a little bell and they listen intently....why does this calmness not work at home?!?!?!