21 first graders miss five minutes of recess and don’t mind a bit.
When I first arrived in my daughter’s classroom, I discovered Ms. Teacher reading a book to the class. Actually, she was holding up a book, while the children sat on the floor and listened to a book on tape. Some were paying attention to the story, interrupting to ask questions. Other children were goofing around. Ms. Teacher was irritated and kept telling them to sit down or to listen.
To be fair to Ms. Teacher, she has to work it if she wants these kids to pay attention. If she has an off day, she’s doomed. One length of the classroom is made entirely of windows with the most spectacular view. The playground. And I don’t know about you, but I know if I had a chance to be a first grader all over again, and I had that view, I’d be counting down the seconds until I could climb that jungle gym or fly on the swings.
All I kept thinking was, if the kids are this antsy now, what are they going to be like listening to another book and even worse, a talk about taking care of books? Before their recess? Nothing like a little internal pressure…if I failed, I’d have one embarrassed daughter and first grade mutiny. From my classroom observations, I already identified the rabble rousers. And I knew the rest would follow along. Easily. I was the only person standing in the way of recess.
I thought about Tricia’s mantra, “Feel the fear, but do it anyway.” I didn’t have a choice since Ms. Teacher introduced me to the children, so I figured I’d better sit down and look each one in the eye. Just so they knew I wasn’t afraid. I especially paid attention to the rabble rousers. One of them grinned at me.
The kids were jumping up and down, they kept looking out the windows and they looked suspicious of anything I had to offer them. Thankfully, I remembered all your words of advice.
So I talked about books and how they start from dreams and ideas. Thank you to Liz in Ink and Becky Levine. Then inspired by Becky’s idea, I had the children tell me their ideas for books and wrote them down. The kids were so excited talking about the good guys (themselves, comic superheroes, and animals), the bad guys (their siblings) and problems. They kept watching the list, and were thrilled their ideas made it to paper. They raised their hands, and for the most part, were good about waiting for their turn.
When we finally had all the ideas together, I looked at the children and then asked, “Who wants to throw away their idea?” (Also Becky’s idea) Complete silence.
“What would happen if someone ripped this paper in half?” If you ever want to see 21 first graders in shock, I’d suggest this question. It is priceless.
heir friends lining by the windows, peering in, curious about what was happening in the classroom. I even told them it was time for recess and instead of getting their jackets to play, the children wanted to ask questions. Ms. Teacher finally broke the spell, probably motivated by an afternoon with a group of first graders who haven’t had a chance to release some energy.