Yo-yo Children

Hang up my backpack.  Get my book box.  Find a quiet spot where I won’t be distracted.  Read to myself.  Make my lunch choice.  Put my book box away. Sit on the rug quietly.  Move away from someone that will talk to me.  Listen to my teacher.  Volunteer to make a change on the D.O.L. sentence.  Say good morning to the child of the day when it’s my turn.  Line up to go to Spanish next door.  Listen to my Spanish teacher. Work on my assignment.  Get up.  Push in my chair.  Line up with the other first graders.  Walk to math quietly.  No running.  Sit down in math.  Listen to my math teacher.  Participate in the discussion.  Solve math problems at a table.  Sit down on the rug.  Discuss the math problems.  Line up at the door. Walk back to my studio quietly.  No running.  Sit down on the rug quietly.  Listen to my teacher read aloud.  Wash my hands when it’s my turn.  Line up for lunch.  Walk quietly to lunch.  No running.

And that’s just the beginning of the day for a first grader in my class.  At the school I work at, a brand new school, we are trying to do the best for our students.  Just like every other school.  At our school, we want our students to have the opportunity to experience foreign language instruction daily.  We also want our students to receive inquiry-based math instruction with other students in their grade level daily.  And this is just before lunch.

After lunch we offer our students more opportunities for enrichment.  We send our students to reading intervention groups four days a week and music, sports and fitness, and computers twice a week.  We believe all of these switches are necessary for our students.  Now that we’ve started, we cannot imagine depriving them of any of these opportunities to learn and grow.

This model of education involves the whole school in each child’s learning.  I am not solely responsible for the learning of the 24 students in my studio.  This is a difficult concept for me to swallow, even though I am brand new to education.  Usually I don’t see my own students, all together, for a lesson until around 1 PM.

I miss them.

I am told that this is not the right frame of mind.  Instead, I should think of all of the students as my own, not just those that hang up their backpacks in my room and give me hugs as they walk through my door each morning.

It takes a village to raise a child. 

But how do the students feel?  Are these 7 year olds ready for a middle school type schedule, a schedule packed with switching and constantly changing environments and teachers?  I worry about the possible lack of consistency in this model of education.  Put yourself in these first grade shoes.  How would you feel?

I think I would feel unsure of expectations, even exhausted.  I think I would long for safety, comfort, and consistency.   I think I would feel like a yo-yo, never stopping to rest, never stopping to feel at home.

In college we were reminded of one thing over and over by our professors.  KNOW YOUR STUDENTS!  In a class of 20 to 30, this is something I know I am fully capable of.  However, now, I am finding it difficult to be equal to this cardinal rule.  How will I ever get to know all the students in the village?


Kelly Leehey

Kelly Leehey

Tucson, Arizona

My name is Kelly Leehey and I am a first-year teacher in Tucson, AZ. I currently teach a primary multiage class in a public Dual Language and Project-based Learning K-8 school. I begin my career as a teaching professional brimming with excitement and armed with a wonderful student teaching experience.

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