Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Teaching at an Elementary School

As I'm beginning to write this post, I've just finished teaching a third grade class. I've also taught first grade, fourth grade, fifth grade, and sixth grade. It's been interesting, to say the least. I think I'd like teaching and I do think that I'd be good at it. Although I would probably prefer to teach older students, like middle and high school.

Sixth Grade - they're like little adults, almost. The sixth graders were the students that I could most easily identify with and relate to. We had communication that bordered on real conversation. Plus, they were the most resourceful at amusing themselves with their free time, not looking to me for guidance or entertainment.

Fifth Grade - they just about ignored me altogether. That might sound like a bad thing, but it isn't necessarily so. Rather than focus their attention on me, they choose, instead, to constantly pick at each other and test each other's limits.

Fourth Grade - I had been warned that this class had a couple of potential troublemakers. Here's the thing, though: I am a former troublemaker. I wasn't a troublemaker in elementary school, but I can still identify with where these guys are coming from. And they seem to sense that from the start. One thing I noticed about these so-called troublemakers: when there were rules in place, they sought to break them. But when they were given a "sense" of freedom, they went about doing their own thing quietly. I had a visual of the raptors consistently "checking" the high-voltage fence in Jurassic Park.

Third Grade - this was that "in-between" class. They are not infants. But neither are they adults. Ugh. They were all nice kids, and well intentioned, I'm sure. But trying to keep their attention, keep them in their seats, and keep them semi-quiet was a near impossibility. Like fifth grade, they were intent to pick on each other constantly. It was like Lord of the Flies in the classroom, and I was the pig. I was actually looking forward to this class, because I was charged with teaching them about Geographers. Well, highdy-ho, I was a geography major in college, so this lesson was right up my alley. In all honesty, the geography portion of the class actually went well.

First Grade - This was probably the easiest class to teach, though not my favorite simply because of its ease. I think the rule of thumb for them was: don't keep them doing any one thing for too long. This is probably a good rule for any teaching situation, but especially so with the younger children. I think the reason I really enjoyed first grade was because the day really flew by, being broken up into small chunks as it was.

I don't have children, so any experience I can get in dealing with children is definitely worthwhile. I am intrigued to find out which children I am drawn to and can identify with. While playing kickball during recess with 3rd-6th graders, I found myself sticking up for the little guys and giving them a chance to play a more important role in the game. It was obvious that certain children - whether they be a "girl", "too young", "the fat kid", "too small", or socially or mentally challenged - were never given the chance to contribute to the game in a meaningful way. Being the adult on the playing field, I had the opportunity to change that and turn their little "social order" upside down. Unfortunately, I still was not able to kick the ball past the pitcher - kicking that thing is really harder than it looks. Really.

5 comments:

Laura Graff said...

In defense of first grade teachers, Lew was left with a teaching-for-dummies sub packet that helped him in every way. I would like to see how well he handles trying to teach them to read and write after 15 cupcakes from someone's birthday celebration!

Mayoliv said...

Next time bring me in as an assistant for dodgeball...
If they can dodge a wrench they can dodge a ball!

Ryan M. Powell said...

I looked pretty deep the other day and I couldn't find much about this teaching deal. Are you a sub now or what?

I used to be a sub.

revolution said...

yes, i've been subbing. i've been unemployed for about a month and a half now. i'm not quite ready to kill myself just yet.

Ryan M. Powell said...

Have you ever done any Special Ed classes? I used to do a lot of Special Ed classes (middle school and high school), originally because there were usually a lot of Special Ed gigs available whenever I called the system, but ultimately because I enjoyed subbing in Special Ed classes.

One exception: I took a three-day gig subbing for the "multi-handicap" teacher at a middle school. "Multi-handicap" means "non-functional crack babies." There are only two of these classes in the whole Clark County (NV) School District.

I'm not being judgmental here. The only reason I disliked this job is because it broke my heart to see these kids, who never had a chance. The job itself was actually very easy because I had two or three teacher's aides, who took care of everything.

I'll never forget Brian, the kid in a wheelchair who drooled all over himself all day and couldn't really move. I just remember him constantly saying "Schweeee, schweeee," which made me think there must be some kind of remotely rational thoughts going on in his brain.

That was 8 years ago.

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