Teaching first grade students is what I’m privileged to do daily. And, though they’re not aware of it, the children teach me, too! It’s my little secret.
Here are a few of the things they’ve taught me recently …
If I don’t eat at regular intervals, I can have blood sugar problems ...
This morning I was in a rush, so I didn’t eat breakfast.
As Ema, Amy, and I fed the goldfish in our classroom’s aquarium, my hands were trembling.
Ema said simply and unabashedly, “Teacher, you shake too much!”
Amy defended me. “That’s okay, Teacher,” she said, peering at the goldfish. “I understand … 'cause I’m a-scared of snakes!”
My assistant and I were setting up the classroom for a Science lesson which was going to be taught by Ms. Chasan.
Whenever she arrived, I introduced her to the class.
“This is my friend. And she teaches Second Grade in Louisiana.”
“Second Grade?” Ben marveled. "But we is first grade."
"That's right," I said, "so TODAY she's teaching first grade."
As he carefully evaluated the situation, his demeanor changed. “Say, if she teaches second grade, does that mean she’s smarter than you is?”
I couldn’t believe it ...
I’ve heard stories about this, but this time it happened to me …
I had been walking up and down the hall with toilet paper – THREE FEET LONG – stuck on the bottom of my shoe.
Yes, I had bounced all over the place like that, while my students – who were with me - had not said a single word about it.
Back in the classroom – where I noticed it – I spoke to them.
“Class,” I said, trying to understand. “I have a question ... Did any of you see that toilet paper on my shoe?”
Gradually, about eighty percent of the students lifted their little hands.
Now, I was REALLY curious. “I have another question … WHY didn’t someone tell me about it?”
They sat quietly, looking and acting as they always do – adorable and sweet! And I admit, that's one of the best things about teaching first grade ...
But didn’t they know this was embarrassing?
Maybe they didn’t understand the concept of humiliation. After all, I reasoned, they were only six years old.
While I longed for a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, there was none … until a little later.
As the students were preparing to line up for the buses, Amy sauntered over to me and plopped down on top of a nearby bench.
“I KNOW how you feel, Teacher.” She winced at the memory, but – embarrassed or not – she shared with me anyway ...
"One time I come to school with the wrong feet on my shoes.”
“Do you mean your shoes were on the wrong feet?”
“Oh no,” she assured me. “They was MY feet!”
She pointed to one foot and then the other. “See, that shoe was not on THAT foot … And that shoe was not on THAT foot.”
I nodded and listened.
“I don't understand,” she continued. “I falled down ALL DAY LONG, and nobody never did tell me why.”
As soon as Tommy came in, I asked him where he had been.
“Oh, it’s a long story,” he mumbled and walked away.
“Come back a minute,” I said.
He stood where he was, avoiding my eyes. “Huh?”
“Come over here,” I insisted. Then, gently taking his hand, I repeated, “Why are you late? Are you just now arriving at school?”
Instantly, he developed a bad cough. But I waited patiently for him to get it under control.
“Are you all right?” I asked.
He nodded. “It’s just that … Well, it’s a very, VERY long story, and …”
He let out a long sigh.
“Well, see, I ain’t gonna be here THAT long.”
Weesie said, “Guess what, Teacher! When I grow up I want to be a TEACHER. A first grade teacher.” She smiled at me knowingly.
I nodded in approval. “Good,” I said, thinking perhaps I had impressed her. “Teaching first grade is ... "
She interrupted me and continued … “Oh, I know!” She was ecstatic now.
“Or a pizza man delib-ber-ber!”
I had to laugh! Ohhh, how my students keep me in line.
But seriously, I know that I'm reaching them in many other important ways. And that's only one reason why I love teaching first grade!