Many people have either asked me why I didn’t teach elementary or told me that I seem well-suited for it. I just smile a little to myself and answer, “Oh, but I do…”
A lot of my students don’t get to have much of a childhood. By the time they are old enough to do so, many are taking care of younger siblings while mom or dad works a late shift. Once they get to high school (or sometimes earlier), some of them even have children of their own. I know that we are supposed to prepare them for life as adults, but sometimes I ask, why the rush? Everyone has forever to be a grown-up, but only one chance to be a child.
On Wednesday we staged the first MI Easter Egg Hunt because I have a terrible habit of volunteering for things. Most of the staff were excited, though understandably concerned about having large numbers of students traipsing through the halls in search of candy. (The velociraptor scene in Jurassic Park comes to mind.) I tried to keep things under control by restricting the hunt to two floors on one side of the academic wing and putting in place procedures for redeeming prizes etc. Kids will be kids, though, and there was candy to be had so there was lots of mayhem anyway. But there were no eggs thrown around or stuffed in questionable places, no fights over candy and prizes, and only minimal disappearances of children into the fourth dimension.
In the end, it was just gratifying to see the kids excited and I try to do that in my classroom too. Large cardboard boxes become temporary spaceships, the Student of the Week winner gets to wear a large foam cheese on his or her head, and googly eyes are abused in abundance. This week my kids were working on model biomes and it’s surprising how much they enjoy coloring and painting and making animals out of Play-Doh. Increasingly, even elementary schools are subject to the trials and tribulations of standardized testing, so that kids are drilled and killed from the start. My hope is that they at least regain some of their natural curiosity and excitement in my class as I am shooting flying monkeys at them.
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