Friday, June 11, 2010

How can they leave me?

I used to say that I would teach any grade except first grade. My mom taught first grade for years, and I saw how hard she worked. She'd be up late every night and up before dawn, preparing, planning, getting ready to do it all over again the next day.

Eleven years ago, my youngest was in preschool and I was working part time in the resource room. My principal came to me. "There's a full-time opening," she said, "and I think you should interview for it."

Thoughts of my old fifth grade class traveled through my head and I started to get excited. "What grade is it?" I asked.

"First grade." She smiled, encouragingly.

It is the hardest grade I've ever taught. But I wouldn't take back my decision for anything. Where else can you see someone go from reading bits and pieces of words to reading a chapter book, and progress from writing just a handful of words to a two page story in just nine months time?

I love that sudden grasp of story that some of them get when the letters and words start to make sense. A few of them may have been struggling in the fall, trying desperately to crack the code. I love it when it finally starts to fall into place for them and they start to devour the books in the classroom.

It's almost the last day of school, and as usual, I'm not ready to let all of them go just yet. We've got more stories to write and many more books to read first.

(By the way, if you are reading this and your name rhymes with "Mack", I'm not letting another teacher have you. We'll just keep bringing in bigger desks...I was hoping we could collaborate on a monster book one of these days...)

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