Friday, February 3, 2012

Year 2: Week 20 - The Mystery Of Third Grade Boys

When I was in third grade I remember looking at the other boys and not understanding them at all.  All they wanted to do was run around and play sports.  Also they kept laughing at things and being silly in a way that I thought was below my level of maturity and now that I’m teach third graders, I still don’t understand third grade boys.

Third grade boys laugh when they are happy, when they are uncomfortable, when they are confused and when they are excited.  They try to act like they are into things that older boys are into but are entertained by things that you would expect only first grade boys to enjoy.   They have the potential to work through abstract thought and understand concept of multiple solutions to a single question.  While at the same time many of them have yet to develop spatial reasoning. 

This is only the third year that I’ve taught third graders.  My first two years teaching was with high school students.  Then there was the one-year as a fourth grade assistant and the year after I entered third grade land. 

Now my first year teaching third grade seemed simpler.  Part of it had to do with the school atmosphere, the expectations ofnthe music teachers and my own skills as a teacher.  That third grade was a relatively calm group of students and while we did accomplish a lot, I didn’t really push them very hard.

Last year, which was my first year at my current school, it was completely different.  Music was integrated into the curriculum, the philosophy of the school was different and there was a very different school atmosphere.  There were a lot of moments when I didn’t really feel like I knew what to do with my third grade boys. 

I wasn’t sure how hard I could be on them, or how goofy I could be.  I wasn’t sure what to expect out of them musically and I didn’t really understand why they were so different than the third grade boys I had previously taught.

Over the year, I figured out a lot of these things the hard way.  Because of this, my relationships with these boys did not end up the way I would have liked but I did the best I could at the time.

This year things are going a lot better with my third grade boys.  I have a better sense of what kind of teacher they need me to be, what kinds of activities appeal to them and how to pace the class to keep them involved.  Most of all, I’ve given up on trying to “understand” these boys and simply focus on getting to know them. 

At every developmental stage there’s a lot of generalizations that one can make, but you can’t forget that regardless of what stage kids are in, they are still people.  The foundation of teaching is knowing your students not as an age group but as individuals.  While I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand my third grade boys, I feel like I know them pretty well and they are great people.  

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