Thursday, April 23, 2015

Elementary Students have "stuff" ...

Yep, "stuff" and they insist on touching me! Last week I watched as the most adorable kindergartener stuck two fingers into her mouth then reached out and grabbed hold on a matchbox car we were using for an activity on motion. I cringed and made a mental note to take the Lysol wipes to the cars before I put them away. In that moment I understood why the elementary teachers were laughing hysterically with a workshop presenter about the "stuff" elementary teachers dealt with.

As a high school teacher I don't often have to deal with this sort of "stuff". But for the last 9 weeks or so I have been traveling down to the elementary wing to teach a STEM special in our K-6 classroom. I have a newfound appreciation for elementary teachers and what they deal with every day. Before I get into details on some of my favorite lessons let's run through some of the unexpected lessons I have learned myself.

  1. Elementary students have "stuff" and they are going to share it. Pack the Lysol wipes and the paper towels and be prepared. They sneeze and drip and cough, I don't see how so much fluid could come out of a human that is so tiny. No amount of "wash your hands please" or "cover your mouth" is going to keep you safe from it all.
  2. If you aren't an elementary teacher but spend any time in their classrooms you are going to become an instant celebrity. I get waved at from the opposite end of the halls, high fives as I pass by, they grab my hand to try to hold it, and more than a few try to get their arms wrapped around me to give me a hug on the way by. I feel like I need a red carpet every time I walk down their hallway now (and some Lysol wipes to deal with #1.
  3. Time management skills mean nothing when it comes to planning for little ones. What I think will take 15 minutes ends up taking 45, and if I think it will take me the whole period to complete they are done in 10. I have learned a whole new meaning to flexibility and thinking on my feet!
  4. Elementary teachers could probably very easily transition into being zookeepers. Like the ones that work with the crazy little monkeys! Teaching one 45 minute class to 12 1st graders takes more energy out of me then the rest of my morning does with 9th and 10th graders.
  5. Teaching elementary is way more rewarding and fun then I could have ever imagined. They light up with each new activity and are so genuinely interested in what we are doing that it amazes me. I don't know that I could ever be cut out to be in an elementary class full time but my short snippets of time each week are pretty awesome....despite all the "stuff".

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