Saturday, October 03, 2009

New Year, New (and Old) Classes

Last year I didn't have any Kindergarten students but the year before they were my *favorite* group of kids. They were just so cute, eager to learn, and they followed directions beautifully. This year the Kindergarteners are SO not my favorite group. Maybe it's because no group of students could compete with the Kindergarteners from two years ago (who were also my favorites last year in first grade and again this year in second grade), or maybe it's because they are just so squirrely, talkative, and immature (for lack of a better way to describe a bunch of five year olds). To be fair I do pick them up at the last period of the day when surely they must be exhausted (I know I am). In their regular classrooms they would be having "choice time" where they could choose to play with blocks, play in the kitchen center, or something else hands on. Instead, I'm picking them up and asking them to sit quietly and listen to a story and then go to their desks and draw a picture about their favorite part. Still, I don't have as great an affection for these students as I did for my other students who made me think I wanted to be a Kindergarten classroom teacher.

The groups that I am loving this year are my second graders, third graders, and fourth/fifth graders. These groups are all made up of kids that I've been teaching for three or four years now. I know all of them and they all know me. From the first day that I picked them up for ESL this year it was like we were just continuing from where we left off at the end of June. I didn't have to teach them class rules and procedures, I just made sure that I was very structured in implementing them. They know my classroom so well that they actually were reminding me of some procedures that to be honest I hadn't really used in over a year. One third grader raised her hand with three fingers to make a "W" and said, "Ms. M, I remember we ask to get water like this." Um, actually we haven't done that for two years (mainly because *I* slacked off on implementing the procedure) but OK, I guess we can start doing that again.

The group that I'm still on the fence about is my Newcomer group. Newcomers have always been my favorite to teach. There's nothing more rewarding than seeing a student go from not speaking a word of English at the beginning of the year to talking up a storm just a few months later. This year I got five Newcomers from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, all in fourth and fifth grade. Add them to the mix of Newcomers I got last year who are now in second, third, and fifth grade, and I have a nice mix of grades and abilities for this group. The thing is, four of the five new students are boys who are rowdy and silly during class (not at all typical of the Newcomers I've gotten in the past who are so sweet and quiet). They're still a good group, I'm just having to work a lot harder than I'm used to for a Newcomer group.

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