The Learning Curve

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 15 2011

Many the miles…

I should be planning. Actually, I should be asleep. I’m beyond tired, and I’m not even close to finished for my plan for tomorrow, let alone the rest of the week. There is always going to be so much to do. I want so much for my students. Our first lesson was to be on place value. It will still be on place value, however modified, because I discovered today that my students literally had no grasp of even or odd numbers. I gave them a 2nd grade Do Now and all but two of them asked me what to do, although all the paper was asking them to do was write whether or not the number provided was even or odd, and the top specifically noted that even numbers end in 2, 4, 6, 8, and 0 and odds end in 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. We ended up taking up twice our normal Do Now time and then going over it as a class. It wasn’t altogether surprising – I previously spent 20 minutes with them explaining calendars, so… – but it was just disheartening. They are so smart; it comes out in so many different ways. In a lot of instances they don’t so much need to learn concepts as they need to know how to name those concepts or identify them. But in other ways they most definitely need the concepts. I was going to teach a mini-lesson on addition word problems today but the Do Now discovery took a good chunk of time.

As disheartening as that tiny moment was, I’m so proud of my students as a whole. From last Wednesday to today, four total days of 3rd grade schooling, they are already so freakin’ smart. They have come almost full circle behaviorally, too. There are definitely still struggles as the students in our school adjust to having actual standards of behavior this year, contrary to last year’s reigning sense of chaos supreme, but just from what they were doing first day to this one has been such a turnaround. There’s a lot less attitude for one, and a lot more ownership for another. They are able to fully articulate in some really outstanding and mature ways when they are making mistakes and why they are earning consequences rather than special privileges. They are already such hard workers, which is great, because we have so much to do! I’m just excited. I have my work cut out for me, but we have had several sit down sessions so far about how the growth we want for our class and ourselves this year cannot just be my work alone, and they are so good at understanding that sentiment and why it is so important. It is not always going to be rainbows and pleasantries, but at least at this stage it’s great to know that these kids understand that we are working toward something that is NOT easy or even FUN 24/7 but totally and completely worth it. It kind of blows my mind, in that I was NOT considering these things as a 3rd grader.

As Bunny Colvin would say, “they are not fools, these kids.”

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