It's been a full seven days of school already, and I haven't even blogged about it yet! I think in part it's cause I've been so darn exhuasted, and SO MUCH has happened that I really don't know where to begin...
I guess I could begin with a little comparison. My old school had just under 700 students in kindergarten to grade 7. My new school has 81. E-i-g-h-t-y--o-n-e. That's it. We were anticipating about 112, so unfortunately that meant that a new teacher who, like me, spent the entire week before school started setting up her classroom had to go. We lost funding for the extra class, as we didn't have enough kids to fill it. I felt terrible for her. School started Tuesday, we found out Wednesday that we were losing a class, she found out that she was the one to go on Thursday, and Friday was her last day. :( That meant, too, that we had to rearrange all the classes, and my one-two split that turned into a straight two the week before school started now was gonig to be a grade two-three class. I have all the grade twos and all the grade threes in the school. I've got twenty kids. Craziness.
And then there are the kids. Cha-llen-ging. I thought my last class was tough. HA! Like a walk in the park, baby. But the thing is, they're sweet kids. It's just that so many of them come from challenging situations, from generations of opression (the majority of my kids are First Nations), and just have had it rough all their little lives. Poverty and dysfunction are not strangers to these little angels. Honestly, academics are my second priority in my classroom this year. Teaching these kids that they are valuable, that they are loved, that they are special is my number one goal. And if I can do that while teaching them to read (many of them can't), then all the better.
So many of these kids already have an attitude of "I can't do it." It's not a snarky kind of attitude, just a belief about themselves. When they go to their desks, I have two boys in particular who just shut down. They can't read, they can't write, and the task before them is just too daunting. I've since modified their work, but it just makes me so sad to see that they're so aware that they're behind and to see how it affectst heir confidence.
BUT, I had a moment yesterday with one student, Bly.* He has trouble copying words and forming his letters, and even his printing booklet was a discouraging challenge for him. My support worker is a hero, and had the idea for him to form the letters with plasticine first, then trace it with his finger, THEN copy the letters. That totally worked, and he did his whole page of printing, including copying some words down that began with the target letter. He wandered over when he had finished to show me, and I made a big deal of how well he had done, all by himself, wasn't I proud of him, great job, etc. The look of bursting pride on that boy's face nearly made me tear up. He was SO proud of himself. That one little interaction alone just made my week.
These kids are going to make me want to tear my hair out, most definitely. They're going to push the boundaries of my sanity, and may even break me temporarily (mental health days, oh, I see a few of you in my future). But they're also going to teach me so much this year. It's gonna be a wild ride! I'd better hang on tight!
* Student's names are changed