Friday, December 7, 2007

Sixth Grade Environmentalists

A day not to long ago I was subbing at one of my favorite schools. I like most schools but I love this one! I have been in the building three times and had a great experience each time. It is a school made up of all the fifth and sixth graders in the community. There are five K-4 schools that feed it. It has four or five different houses. The houses are housed in an atrium with fifth grade on one floor and sixth grade on the other. They remind me of smaller schools within a larger one. In my opinion this mix of students is great. I think it helps the students not grow up so quickly. (They already grow up so fast.)

On this particular day I was subbing for sixth grade. I have to admit I was extremely nervous. One of the reasons was not the fact that many of them are taller than me. I had done fifth grade and it was a breeze. So, why not try it? If the day doesn't go well, I don't have to go back. Besides, I like a challenge. Well, they were wonderful, fabulous, respectful students. We talked books and I got some good suggestions that I have written down somewhere. I got to teach science, math, and language arts. I enjoyed the day thoroughly.

At one point in the afternoon, an incident happened that made me nervous. I was supervising a study hall. I was mostly helping with math and watching the students interact. I even let them write on the white board and before I knew it half of the class was up there writing. As I was watching them interact, I discovered a note being passed around. I think they thought they were being so covert but it was completely obvious to me. This caused a tug of war going on in my head. Do I want to read it or not? I was wary of what it may say. After it got about half way around the room my curiosity was so strong I had to read it. So I bravely confiscated it and read it. It said: NO MORE HOMEWORK.....Save the Trees. I had to keep myself from chuckling because I was so relieved. I did not want to embarrass the author. I was curious if the which was more important: no homework or the trees.

I located the author and talked to him. It was a great opportunity to talk about how teachers enjoy hearing the opinions of their students. He also mentioned that he was thinking of starting a petition. My response was that should wait until tomorrow. He did not want me to tell his teacher about the note. I didn't. I just mentioned in the notes that I thought she had some budding environmentalists in her class and perhaps she should ask them about that.

A few things that I was reminded of this day were:
1. Being brave pays dividends.
2. Sometimes what you think may be a challenge turns out to be a wonderful and memorable experience but you won't know if you are not willing to try.
3. Believe the best. It is often not as bad as you think. Besides worrying about how bad it could be doesn't help you with dealing with the matter if it does turn out to be bad.
4. Smiling and saying, "Good Morning, I am glad you are here" will go a long way to show you care.
5. It is great fun to talk books with students in a casual manner. I just asked, "What are you reading?" The responses I got were marvelous.
6. Giving students a voice can be powerful.

How will I give my students a voice in my classroom? How will I remember always to believe the best?

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