You learn a great deal about 7 year olds at "circle share".
The "juicy" learning commences after first recess, when the eager blabber mouths file in and hurry to the carpet to form a circle. This in and of itself, takes time.
Since math needs to start in only 15 minutes, I remind them that they need to "share only one thing, in a couple of sentences, not a lengthy paragraph connected together by 20 "and then and then and then..."
It sometimes takes bribery to get them settled and quiet, ready to begin. I want to bribe them by saying, "If we can't get in our circle and quiet down, we won't get to have math today."
Instead I say, "Ok. If we can't get quiet and ready to share, we won't have recess this afternoon."
I don't want to say it. It's not what I learned in the credential program. And I hate when every other damn teacher on the public school planet says it.
I want math, reading and various other essential subjects of academia to be what they hunger for rather than music, art and recess and yet, I spew the words to get instant results. I get instant results because so much of the arts and physical eduction have been removed from our public schools, and the children are literally starving for it. Unfortunately, the recess bribe works.
We are ready to begin our circle share:
(We pass around this purple bean bag and whomever is holding it, gets to speak while the rest of us get to listen)
"Well, yesterday I saw Nick at the mall (outbreak of giggles by the 1st graders) and I got new shoes and then my mom said we could go to Dave's BBQ and after that we went to my tia's house and then..."
"Ok. We need to pass the bean bag."
"Last night, I was watching the news and I heard Noah's name on the news. (class bursts out giggling and Noah, our student, blushes and hides his head between his knees) It was a movie called Noah's Boat." (Class is overcome with laughter. Katie starts to blurt out the correct name and I remind her it's not her turn, hoping she forgets the sermon by the time the bean bag reaches her.)
"My therapist told me it's not ok for my step mom to be mean to me."
"What's a therapist?"
"Yesterday, my sister played Spin the Bottle." ( Ms. Fern seems to be the only one present familiar with this game. No one in the circle bats an eye.)
"Janelle took cuts in the line after recess."
"No, I didn't!"
"My mom is taking me to get new shoes after school today but if we can't find any shoes, then I get two shirts and if we can't find anything we get to go have ice cream."
"We're taking Flopsie to the doctor to have her baby-maker taken out after school today."
...And the bean bag continues around the circle where honest, and sometimes, excruciatingly detailed accounts are shared, one kid at a time. And one teacher, listening, learning, holding back the bursts of laughter that seem to be building in her throat and biting her tongue until it requires medical attention.
You know, kids are no different than adults. They want to be heard.
And as with adults, it's extremely hard for them to listen to each other without thinking, planning, conspiring what they are going to say.
Lesson to self: Listening is more important than speaking.
My Last Day
As you might suspect, there's been MANY days I thought the 7-week stretch would never end; many days (and nights) I feared the whining (and wine-ing) would never end.
However, yesterday, came out of nowhere and hit me like a bolt from the blue.
And though my head has been throbbing as a result of rising before humans actually should and from listening to a constant, daily barrage of "Ms. Fern....Ms. Fern....Ms. Fern..."
It won't come as a huge, teary-eyed surprise that, as I hugged each one good-bye when the dismissal bell rang, that's exactly what I did...
I'm so spent from this highly respected, grossly underpaid profession called elementary school teacher, that I really have no more details floating around in what's left of my brain.
So, I think I'll just leave it at that.