Wednesday, October 12, 2011


"Ellie and Zach are finished with 6 min. solution"
The reason I gave my class when they asked why Zach and Ellie were paired up with a few of my readers who were struggling.

Some of my other high reading level girls had daggers coming out of their eyes for Ellie and Zach.

"But why are THEY done?!!" whined Josh, right before he started crying from frustration.

My class has been at each other for the past few days. Name calling, poking, pushing, tattling, mean comments, dirty looks. We have been together all day, 5 days a week, for the past 7 weeks. The honeymoon was definitely over. I realized I had made a mistake by putting Ellie and Zach above the rest of the class with that simple announcement, even though they have passed off all of the reading assignments in fast time. They had begun to read so fast that they were slurring words, and skipping expression and comprehension all together. I put them with slower readers to help them as well, I just said the wrong thing to the rest of the class.

I realized I had made a mistake. Now how to fix it. I told the class that even though Zach and Ellie were the fastest readers, it didn't mean they were the best readers. It's true. Trinity was the only one in the class who scored 100% for accuracy on the CBM test they had just taken last week, even though her time had been a little slower. Kemry has the best scores for math. Aryanna by far has the best penmanship. Wes is the friendliest...

Everyone had been upset by me putting Ellie and Zach in a position of superiority that I made evident to the entire class. Now I had to fix it.

Zach was willing to help. "Just because Zach is one of the fastest readers, doesn't mean he is the best" he was perceptive and realized others felt bad, and he was willing to try to make it right with me. "Yep," he agreed "Mrs. Bingham always tells me to slow down" he said with a smile.

"Thank you to Zach" I whispered to myself. But it wasn't enough. I looked around and realized that I needed to do more to correct my mistake. I took a deep breath and apologized for announcing the new jobs of Zach and Ellie. I pointed out to everyone that Zach and Ellie did not score the highest in the class on some of the tests. I said that all the students in my class were all wonderful and all good at different things. I looked around the room and prayed that I would be able to come up with at least one good thing for each of them. Some of them would be harder than others.

I started with Brynlee and" what a beautiful singing voice she has". "Trinity is the most meticulous and neatest student I have ever known. Tanner is FUNNY! Ella is about the kindest girl in the world. Ary is an amazing artist. Zach has a great memory. Ellie is an awesome reader. Brooklyn is a comedian, Kemry is a super gymnast, Tatyana is a mother to the entire class."
Then I came to Hunter. He has a pretty rough home life. He goes to resource and works hard every day for very little result. He works hard in class, and still, lots of times doesn't understand. But he always tries his very best. It is an ongoing theme when he tells me he really can't do what I ask him to do and I tell him to try his very best, he does. So when I came to Hunter, I looked at him, and I could tell he was afraid that I wouldn't have anything to say.

I said: "Hunter TRIES harder and works harder than anyone in this class..."

He went down on his desk and started to cry.

The feeling of love that was suddenly in our class was so strong and overwhelming...I choked down my own tears, and continued with how Haley was the best dressed, and Payton was the bravest one. Kennedy spoke and expressed herself so well, Julie loved her family so much, Wes was so outgoing and friendly with everyone. Josh is hilarious. Eli is so respectful and kind. Austin is so thoughtful and sharing...

The bell rang and I sent everyone to lunch and came back to my room and cried. After a good 10 minuets I washed my face and went to the faculty room to go and get a diet coke so I could pull myself together. I ran into the DK teacher who works with special needs kindergarten kids. She could tell I had been crying, and I was embarrassed and just told her it wasn't a bad thing, but just a really good feeling and experience I just had. I tried to tell her a little about it before I started crying again. She just understood and said when we pray for our kids, and then somehow we get an answer to that prayer, it can really be a powerful thing. I told her to stop because she was making it worse. We both laughed a little and then I cried on my way back to class.

I was able to pull myself together before my kids came back. We had a good afternoon because the good feeling stayed for the rest of the day.

The last few min. of class, I was playing music while my kids were coloring in their planets for the last activity of our space unit. I was walking around, looking at the beautiful colors they were using, and the music was playing and everyone was enjoying each other. Now I have not had many days like this, and I know there will be many days that are hard and trying, but it was good today. And I looked outside of myself somehow, for just a moment, and realized for a split-second what kind of a place my classroom was and really is kind of a beautiful place. And I am really where I am suppose to be. And it is a good place to be.


Greg & Andrea said...

what at cool story. I'm sure teaching can be so trying at times but also rewarding. I am impressed that you could come up with something to say about every student in your class right on the spot. What lucky kids they are to have you.

Kylie said...

It's amazing how much kids teach us about ourselves and how to become better people. Beautiful story Rachel. :)

Miranda said... sweet! i love how you know the kids so well you were able to point out something so unique about them. i would love to be a kid in your class! they are sooo lucky to have you Rachel!!