A Joyful Classroom

Find the nearest piece of wood and knock on it. Things are going well. Very well.

While this year has been challenging and imperfect and test prep season is inevitable, I seem to have stumbled upon something awesome and special this year. Last year I wondered if I was running a joyless classroom. This year I have no such doubts. Everyday we find something to laugh about, and I can hardly believe it.

In the pit of my stomach there's worry. Last year started out unbelievably well, before Lil Miss Meltdown, Maverick and The Biter went into full throttle. I wonder if somehow I'm setting myself up for more frustration and failure. In the end, in spite of the struggles with some students last year, I know it was a positive experience overall. And I know there's major differences between this class year's class and last year's, mostly for the better.

I'm not sure if it's the age difference, a change in my teaching style, dumb luck or some combination of the three, but I greet my kids each day with a smile and tell them how happy I am to see them and it's the complete truth. And in the strange, surreal, totally innocent way that only kids can do, the kids have shown me they like being with me.

I had this interaction today picking the students up from lunch:
"Mr. B-," Pepita Long Stocking told me today in the auditorium. "I feel like I want to hug you."
"Uh, sure, go ahead."

Meanwhile, every time I drop the kids off for a prep or lunch they wave, "Bye, see you soon!" I can't help, but shake my head and laugh. Somehow they feel the need to give me a proper goodbye, even for a 45 minute hiatus.

Yesterday, another boy asked me, "Do I have after school with you today?"
"Of course, it's Thursday."

I'm not sure how things fell into place this year in a way they haven't before. I think in some way I've let my guard down more. I think I've also accepted my role as an elementary school teacher more fully, and understood the need to act goofy and embarrass myself freely. The kids told me today I could be a comedian, but I'm not taking that too seriously. Eight year olds are a pretty easy crowd.

I remember one of my professors asking me about my teaching plans the summer of my Teaching Fellows pre-service training. I explained that I hoped to teach for two years then move on. "You need to give it at least 3-5 years to really figure it out," she said. I guess she knew something I didn't.


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