Well my first day of school was last day last Friday. It was also my last day so far, but hopefully not THE last day!
When I signed up to substitute I had a lot of papers to fill out and on one of them I checked schools and grade levels where I was willing to substitute. I promptly checked all the middle and high schools. I did NOT check any elementary school. I have been around some VERY young students (outside of my own) since college but for some reason never really embraced the younger set. Middle school always seemed to be a bit of a sweet spot for me, although most of my career has been in the high school. Teaching is teaching, no matter the subject and no matter the grade level or ability level. And it even varies within any subgroup across schools and across the hall to the next room.
So imagine my surprise on Friday getting a call asking if I would come and teach 5th grade for a day. Heck yeah!
I said this with zero hesitation, which is probably good. If I would have actually thought about it, I might have stayed home. I had not darkened a 5th grade classroom since *I* was a fifth grader!
BUT you never know. And so I went in to a sort of emergency situation and lo and behold I actually kinda liked it. I was essentially with the same group of students all day (which is not really new to me) but these were all very engaged, engaging and mostly confident students. Ten year-olds really are at an amazing stage of life where they are most definitely kids but also have an emerging level of independence. The girls all seem to have lots of confidence and have no fear of demonstrating their academic or physical prowess. While the boys still want to be cool, they are not afraid of taking risks and can actually laugh at themselves sometimes. The whole class loved participating and being engaged in their learning. They liked to show what they can do. Peer pressure has not quite choked so much of their individuality and confidence away. They are the top dogs of their elementary school but it is still early enough in the year that it has not really sunk in yet.
The hardest part of the day was probably playing kick ball in the 90 degree Georgia heat during recess. They still needed some help organizing themselves into a structured game and needed a referee, but generally these were all good kids. One would not even think of it as a Title 1 school by what was going on in the classroom, which is exactly what you want. Good things ARE happening if you can look past the political and the system view of things.
I think I might just see about picking up some more of the jobs in the lower grades. It IS a lot different and it IS very busy but the day rockets by pretty fast.
Of course fifth grade is made famous by a certain TV game show that my kids sometimes like to watch. Who can forget that first million dollar winner?