First Day of School

It came and went.

An exciting, chaotic, adventurous day that ended all too soon, leaving me with sore, swollen feet and a remarkable desire to do the same thing all over again the next day.

Most students’ items were labeled, their math and reading packets ready to go, and morning work was on their desks. It was very touching seeing parents bring their child in and spend a meaningful minute with him or her before departing. Many parents brought required supplies such as sanitizer wipes, markers, pencils, glue sticks and tissues, which helps stock up the class for a year and then some. Parents signed up for an available time when the teacher could make a home visit. Brilliant idea, by the way. Time-consuming, yes, but so beneficial when spending just a bit of quality time with the student, getting a better idea of where student is coming from and thus better accommodating that student’s learning at school.

When students sat in a circle on the rug and introduced themselves or were part of a discussion in a read-aloud, they were encouraged to use complete sentences, learned the signal for making a connection (two fingers hooked) and were taught self-awareness strategies. [If you listened with eyes on speaker, give yourselves a private thumbs up. If you didn’t do so great, move the thumbs up sign to the side; it’s ok because you’ll do better next time. And it was like that for speaking in complete sentences, sitting appropriately in crisscross, not speaking out of turn, voice level, etc.]

It was very amusing watching students with their clumsy fingers tearing out homework pages for their homework folder. I witnessed them trying to find where their cubbies were, their excitement of getting to write their name using a very grown-up marker (Sharpie), sharing math ideas with their partner, punching in lunch numbers, and struggling to quietly walk down a much longer hallway than when in kindergarten. The kids loved singing “Here We Are Together” and getting their picture taken.

I loved observing the individuality of each student. One student, being reluctant and shy to participate and trying to sit as close to the back of the group as possible was asked to help trace over some words on a word strip that would be taped up to the Literacy Focus Wall. After that, he apparently felt much more involved in the class, because the next time I saw him, he was sitting at the very front of the group and demonstrating model attentiveness!

Another student, smart and outgoing, thought he could speak out of turn and call out suggestions and ideas. After being ignored for a while, he learned that raising his hand will generate more attention, and at one point he even had to sit and learn from his desk while the rest of the classmates were in a group.

The student with selective mutism was expected to actively participate in group discussions. Since it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect her to speak at this time, she got the option of nodding to “Would you like to pass?” instead of an awkward silence. She, and the other students, will eventually know that it will be expected of her to speak. The girl sitting next to her is very animated and lively and does most of the talking for her, but the student with selective mutism is also similar, only without the words coming out of her mouth. She pays attention, writes in appropriate words, understands math concepts, and draws. She would nod or smile if I commented on some work. At recess I overheard her laughing out loud but have yet to hear words come out of her mouth.

One student told me “I like you” before running out to recess. It was so sweet!

The students are so naive and adorable at this point in their life, and at the same time, are so startlingly clever! I’m also so incredibly blessed to have such a great cooperating teacher to learn from!

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