Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why I Should Never be a First Grade Teacher...

I volunteered today in KJ's first grade classroom.  I was there for several hours- mostly wrapped up in cutting and gluing.  Which meant I had plenty of time to watch my adorable first grader and action.  And plenty of time to contemplate this deep topic.

The reasons I shouldn’t be a First Grade teacher, but love volunteering…

I have no poker face.
As a volunteer, I loved sitting at the back table CRACKING UP at some of the things that first graders say. It was just about as close as one could get to really being a fly on the wall. 
"Well, I don't have an answer to that question, but I do have an answer to the one you asked earlier"  

Teacher : "What country was the Puerto Rican Baseball player, Roberto Clemente, from?"  Class "TEXAS!"

Teacher: "Who is someone you admire?" Student: "I admire myself because my parents really love me"

And that was just in a 5 minute story time.
I mean, seriously- how can the teacher just look straight at them, not crack a grin and just go on like what just came out of their mouths is perfectly normal.  Seriously.  I was DYING.

The sum of all of my patience would fit into a First Grade Teacher’s pinky finger.
Seriously.  The room was in constant motion.  Wiggle.Squirm.Cough.Sneeze.Giggle.Fidget.Whisper.
Sharpen a pencil.Go to the restroom.Move to another task.Answer a question.
White boards.Workbooks.Computer.Ipad.Book.
  Most of this motion happened completely seamlessly without her ever uttering a word.  Occasionally she would do this cool clapping rhythm, the class would repeat and everyone would snap back to sitting still and quiet.  Rarely was there a moment when everyone didn’t seem engaged.  Seriously- the control of a First Grade teacher’s patience it is a sight to behold.  And as a volunteered I loved getting to watch this miracle in motion.

I break into a sweat at the thought of anything crafty.

When I met up with KJ’s teacher this morning, she started explaining what she needed help with.  “We (meaning me) are going to create a poster for our class to enter in the Red Ribbon Week contest.”  To which I tried
not to cough.sputter.spew. my coffee.  My mind raced a million miles a minute as to how I was going to politely excuse myself from this task.  “Um- I’m so sorry.  You must have the wrong mom.  You meant Jane’s mom, the artist, right? Apparently you forgot you were getting stuck with KJ’s mom the accountant.  Creative= I’m OUT.”  But while my mind was racing she pulled up a picture on her phone and specific instructions about the poster she wanted.  I took a look and did some quick self-talk.  Before long I had myself talked down from the sweaty ledge and into a peaceful state of “Oh, you said create a poster, but what you meant was ‘Please set up and strategize a trace, cut, glue assembly process”.  Got it.  I’m back.  Totally got this.  Give me five minutes to think and I’ll have it figured out- and you can bet it will be efficient and effective to the max.  My happy place.

I didn't actually put this poster together.  I just traced and cut out every.single.stinkin.piece.  Pretty amazing, huh?  I LOVED being a volunteer.  And can't wait to go back again!


The paws on the poster were written on by each student in the class and have positive ideas for things they could do.  Like "read" or "play soccer" or "play outside".  They are learning early that they have a choice.  They don't just have to say "no to drugs".  Instead, they are learning that there are choices they can make to LIVE LIFE BETTER.  Sound familiar?  Kinda like that mantra for a certain non-profit organization I love.  Teen Lifeline's goal is to continue to speak power into students to make positive choices.  To give them tools to handle life's stresses in a way that they live life better.  I hope you will still consider joining us as we run this weekend to raise money to support these efforts.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that truly, any amount helps.  I'd especially love for some of you "secret" readers of this little piece of the web to come clean by joining me in making a difference. Thanks so much!

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