Monday, November 03, 2003

it's easy street

Two months in and the prediction is partially true: this school year is much better, but I was wrong about it being physically and emotionally draining. It's easy street.

Now what am I supposed to do with that? I spend as much time as I can noticing the child--catching fireflies on the carpet is one of my favorite glimpses, wiggling loose teeth and being so proud of the blood, not being able to possibly be the last one touched in a game of tag, all the tattling, being vulnerable to the hundreds of opportunities for praise and reprimand each day, tears, bright wide eyes, holding hands, kindness, tenderness, dear little people.

Within the first three weeks of school, Lacey pushed me to reach another child he wanted to fight. This was in front of the class, and purposely done to test the boundaries. This child tries to be away from the crowd, prides himself in not being duped by teachers' ways to motivate kids to do what they want--okay, bribery. He's preteen at ten, has older cousins. You know the type. But after several weeks, I now feel close to Lacey.

I've befriended him and made inroads through letting him know I'm checking up on him. He knows I care, I suppose, and has found a little more security from that. Progress like this so quickly amazes me. I was sure he couldn't care less. I was sure he knew, like I, that I'm a wimp of a teacher. But that's my internal speak, my doubt that the children really don't see, no matter how perceptive I believe them to be. This is part of the second-year teacher curve--what I'm supposed to be doing with what I've got.

I've said many times that I don't know how to teach children. I absolve myself when I use that statement, but also humble myself so that perhaps some learning will permeate my teacher persona. There's language to every professional culture. "Community building" was big when I was with the Lutherans. As long as you used the language to build messages and then delivered them, you were doing okay. With teaching there's the oral, the behavioral, and beyond that, showing all the aspects of your own humanity.

Lacey remains the most problematic student in 4-320. He continues to test me, and Ms. G too. He constantly needs to know that we can in fact make him abide. For people who have this need, the burden shifts to those around them. It's rooted in something I have not yet identified. But it has something to do with a security that is missing within. I like Lacey. I like them all. I really do.

The word from fourth grade . . .
Sistra Teach

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