I recently had the opportunity to teach a second grade class at Grapevine Elementary School. As a substitute teacher, you never know what you are walking in to, but this class was special (in a good way).
One of the young girls in the class immediately came up to me and told me the “rules.” LOL. She showed me how to get control of the class when they were getting out of hand and how to give people points for doing well and take away points for poor behavior. She continued to advise me throughout the day to keep me on course. I could see her being a teacher some day. She had such a heart for helping and encouraging others.
She told me that the substitute teacher they had the day before was AWFUL. Everyone agreed. They said that the teacher had told them they were the WORST class that she had ever had. I looked at the class and said, “You know what? You are the BEST class I have EVER had….EVER.” I wish you could have seen their eyes. It was so cute. That one word of encouragement started the day off right.
Next, instead of reprimanding them and continually correcting them, I had them sit quietly just for a few seconds…then gave everyone a point for good behavior. Some of these kids apparently did not get many good points…so that was something I did right as well.
I think I relate well to this age group because I am a kid at heart, and I have a real soft spot for those kids who don’t fit in. One young boy was supposed to be my challenge for the day. Strangely enough, I had very little trouble with him. He had some social issues that we had to work through, but all in all he did well.
I found out that sometimes laughter can cure a boo-boo. One little girl came to me complaining that one of the boys had pushed her and she hurt her arm when it hit the wall. Two other girls were there nodding in agreement. It was very melodramatic. No tears and no real harm, but obviously wanting some justice. I looked her in the eyes and said seriously, “Do you think you will live?” She looked surprised and said, “Yes.” I said, “Thank GOODNESS! I was SO worried.” We all laughed and they went back to their desks.
I also learned that little things matter. One boy had taken his shoes off in class. Apparently this was a no-no and two of the girls were indignant that he was breaking the rules. They said, “We only take our shoes off on special days, and this is not one of them!” I thought for a minute and said, “How about we make THIS a special day for everyone?” I said, “You let me announce it to the class though.” So I told the class to sit quietly, and that I had something important to say. They were not to yell or make ANY noise when I told them what we were going to do. I simply asked, “If we make this a special day, how many of you would like to take your shoes off?” The hands were waving wildly. You would have thought I had told them we were going to Disneyland. It was pretty funny to observe how something so simple mattered to them.
They earned several more positive points through the day and with the exception of one young man who had attention deficit disorder, there were no disruptions to speak of. They were begging me to go on the field trip the next day, but I told them I could not, so they went to the board and started writing little love notes to me… one after one. I can see why teachers love to teach kids. When you really connect with them, and they know you care, they respond.
At the end of the day, I was the one who got schooled.