I'm kind of at a loss for words....or perhaps its thoughts this evening. Of course this is always a dangerous precipice to be standing on. One step can lead me rolling into unintended subject areas buried in the back left corner of my brain. I think that's where I store stuff for later pondering. Long ago I had a friend who taught 1st grade. She trained her class to be very quiet when she was trying to recall something to share with them....she made sure they knew she hadn't forgotten it, she just needed time to find it wwwwwaaaaaayyyyyy in the back part of her brain.
I used to love teaching first graders. Give me a room full of 6 year olds in various stages of tooth loss and I knew just what to do. (See; there it is. I just stepped off the precipice into a ramble I had no idea 1 minute ago was going to come out.) I think I acted like a giant 6 year old who was just taller than the rest of the class and was in charge of the rules and that was the key to my success. Perhaps the other key was my students would be with me for just 1/2 hour 2 times weekly for their music class and then the classroom teacher would return to fetch them. I was like the favorite aunt or something....a rare treat amongst the rest of their day full of worksheets, coloring within the lines, numbers, letters, sounding things out, and read aloud stories. Frankly I had God-like status with my 6 year old charges. I miss that.
Ever walk into a cafeteria full of six year olds when you're on God-like status? All I'd need was a refill of my coffee mug or an ice cream sandwich. I'd stride through the double doors to an eruption of little hands waving from behind jelly smeared smiles and milk mustaches. My name would ripple through the din in the cafetorium air with each table I passed. What an ego trip. I miss that.
First graders will do almost anything you ask them to. One must be careful with this "power". I would explain my classroom rules to them over and over and over in the month of September and then rarely had to mention the rules again. I would say they had to "follow directions" which is like saying "je ne sais quoi" to a first grader....hello; no clue. So then I had to cite multiple examples...."if I say sing-you sing, if I say clap-you should clap, if I say hop you "HOP!" would come the shouted chorus response from the masses. I would do a few more of these earnest choral responses and then would hit them with "if I say jump out the window you should......" and wait for the room full of puzzled faces who soon figured out it was a joke. They'd say..."you should be one of those people who stand there and tell jokes." Great; a stand up comedian for 6 year olds. I miss that.
You can trick a first grader into doing whatever you want them to. Because they're not really readers yet, if you want them to remember a new song you have to sing it 10 billion times in a row until they know it. (I guess adults aren't much different, they just ignore you....and they can read.) Of course they're not interested in doing it 10 billion times in a row so here's where trickery comes in. They sing it a little at a time.....first you, then them....back and forth till you make your way through the whole thing. Now they're bored. Challenge...."that sounds pretty good, but I bet you can't sing it standing up." First graders love a challenge, and they say "nuh-uh; yes we can." So then you just keep upping the ante. Bet you can't sing it standing up with one arm in the air. Bet you can't sing it with your eyes closed. Bet you can't sing it standing on your chair. Bet you can't sing it standing on your chair with your tushie sticking out. Bingo....song learned, kids having fun. I miss that.
First graders have the attention span of a gnat....perhaps a gnat with a good attention span, but that's it. A half hour has to be divided into at least 3 different sections to keep those little young 'uns focused. God-like status gets brownie points when an announcement happens that we're doing a "moving around the room thing" today. They love moving around the room things. I had a variety of songs that required hopping, skipping, tip-toeing, walking, jumping, hopping on one foot, spinning, elephant walking, hula dancing, etc. One rule: no touching anybody else. It worked....if you touched, even accidentally, you were sitting. Magic. Never forget the power of a moving around the room thing with 6 year olds....you'll get twice as much done in the remaining 20 minutes. Watching a 6 year old clumsily hop on 1 foot....I miss that.
First graders have the sweetest little angelic like singing voices. They don't always know that they do, but it's easy to get them to find them....they love siren noises, ghost sounds, echo-ie "who-who" patterns, and making their voices go up and down the hills....especially if you tell a story with it. Extra points for stories that include them. Before long they're singing like angels. I miss that.
First graders love stories about your pets that mis-behave at home. Any story that includes destruction of books, shoes, toilet paper, or spilling of the trash.....fascinating. I could keep them hanging by a thread with a story about one of my Labrador retrievers as labs are always chewing up stuff or getting in trouble. If there was photographic evidence it was even better. Perfect classroom fodder. First graders also love it when you pretend you can't remember their names (when they know for 100% sure that you really do know it.) I loved to make guesses like Gertrude, Poindexter, Rumplestilskin, Tiddlie-winks, Harold, Precious, Scooby Doo, Valentine, etc. and hear the uproar of giggles surrouding my ridiculous list. I miss that.
First graders like any activity that feels like a game. Lining up to return to their classroom was often a game. If you're wearing red, you can line up. If you're wearing sneakers, you can line up. If you have blue eyes, you can line up. If your name starts with Z, you can line up. If your favorite kind of pizza is extra cheese you can line up. Games, games, games. I miss that.
First graders give the best spontaneous hugs. You might be standing there talking with a colleague and all of a sudden you're decorated with little beings whose arms wrap 'round your hips and whose little sweaty heads are no higher than your belly button. Often times they come in swarms of three of four and you're completely surrounded. You have to peel them off of you in order to take a step. I miss that.
Six year olds require tons and tons of energy. Their brains, bodies, fingers, and feet move nearly 100 m.p.h. If you're not in bed by 9:15 p.m., you'll never have enough energy to keep up with them the following day. I don't miss that.
With all this missing, can anyone tell me why God decided it would be a good idea for me to no longer hear correctly? It makes no sense to me. Let me know if you can think of a good reason for that. I miss teaching those little ones, seeing those baby teeth, making up ridiculous names, thinking up ingenious ways to get them to sing songs enough times to learn them, playing games, moving around the room, lining them up by what color shirt they had on, telling dog stories. I miss the God-like status, the stand up comedic material for 6 year olds, and the spontaneous sweaty hugs. I miss molding young ones into budding musicians through learning that was so fun, it seemed like only play. What makes this hearing loss a good idea?....I just don't get it.
Thanks for stepping off the precipice with me this evening. As I mentioned earlier....I have nothing on my mind. : ) Stop by again when I will likely have something to say and a photo or two or three to go with it.