Friday, October 7, 2016

Year 7: Week 7 - Coming Back To Me

When I first meet most of my students, they are in third grade. While some of them have older siblings that often give me a vague idea of what they might be like (which is often not true), these kids are coming to me new. I really cherish this time in third grade getting to know these students for the first time because for the rest of the time when I teach them, this is not the case.

These kids come back to me in fifth grade. By this time, there’s usually three or four new students, but the rest are the same kids that I got to know in third grade. There are more new students that I meet in sixth grade and a few in eight. However the vast majority of kids that I teach in eighth grade, I first met five years earlier in third grade.

Over the five years, it’s really amazing to watch these kids grow up. Even the years when I don’t teach these kids in fourth and seventh grade, I see them around and I keep tabs on them. The students that inspire me in third grade, I look forward to teaching again, and the students who don’t . . . well, that’s the main thing I’m thinking about when I write this post.

Some students understand that I know them for multiple years and see a connection because of that time spent together. However most of the students when they walk in the door in fifth, sixth and eighth grade, work with me as if I was a teacher they have never met before. I’m okay with this. By the time eighth grade roles around, I have a better memory of our time together in third grade than they do. To them I’m a teacher, not a three-dimensional human being. I’m okay with that. A degree of distance between a teacher and a student is necessary.

As they come into my class, I try to conscientious to not carry baggage from years past into the door and allow all of my students to get a fresh start. But I got to be honest; it can be really tough sometimes.

A couple days ago, a student started joking around with another student in the middle of class and as I stood near him and tried to give him a subtle look to grab his attention all I could think was, “Are you kidding me? This is the exactly the same issue I dealt with last year.” I wanted to redirect him as an extension of consequences from the previous year, but I held back. It’s a new year and me reacting based more on previous year’s issues wouldn’t make sense to other students.

The thing is that almost all of my students mature, and grow as positive human beings. The ones that don’t appear to on the outside, I end up getting to know better and through this, I come to appreciate them as people even if we don’t click as a teacher and a student.

There is a similar amount of caution, I have to have with students who I previously had really positive experiences with.  Making positive assumptions, may lead me to overlook issues that need to be addressed.

It's a tricky thing teaching these kids over a period of years, but it's a lot of fun.  Even though there is tension that comes from previous years, more than anything else there's a feeling of coming home again, when I see their faces.  While it may be a new school year, it feels more like a new verse to the same song.

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