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A Pleasant Surprise

Something has been happening the past month without me realizing. My kids have been learning! When I met them in September I was shocked by what I saw as gaps in their knowledge and behavior. But I knew that was partly because I was juxtaposing them with my memory of my third graders in June, not September. Similarly, I was blinding myself to the slow and gradual progress they were making. Until yesterday.

I have a tendency to jinx myself in these situations, but yesterday was one of those almost-perfect days. I didn’t feel rushed and I didn’t feel completely frustrated. Looking around, I saw small clues of the growth my students and I have made since school started. The students and I made it through every lesson with minimal interruptions. When I needed to redirect a student, I didn’t raise my voice, I lowered it. It’s hard to see sometimes, but when I looked closely I realized even Baby Face has made strides in improving his behavior.

We ended the day with the classic baking soda and vinegar experiment to cap our introduction to the scientific method. The facts that we made it through the potential chaos of that experiment AND everyone participated AND everyone had hysterical fun are definitely positive signs. As I cleaned up during my final period prep I felt a mix of relaxation and pride.

It wasn’t until I was getting ready to leave my room at the end of the day though that I fully realized what had been taking place in my room. I had stayed after school to complete the long overdue task of hanging up process charts from various lessons. Walking out the door I looked around the room and saw my posters on how to give a book talk, tools and units of measurement, how to tell time, personal narrative traits and many others. Who knew? We’ve learned a lot.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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