We get to the end of a year, having spent 10 months lovingly nurturing and shaping our class. We train them in our ways, teach them our habits, we get to know their foibles and they ours. 6 weeks pass, and suddenly, we find ourselves with 30 new, hopeful, smiling faces, moulded in the ways of their previous teachers and so much younger than those children we have handed on.
There is so much for them to learn, without even touching on the academic stuff. Where should they sit? Where do the pencils go? What should they do with their books at the end of the lesson? Who do they sit next to? How are the lessons organised? Should they stick work in at the beginning of the lesson or when they have finished? Can they go to the toilet in the middle of the lesson? How do they make their new teacher smile? How do they get noticed and earn stickers and rewards? Just how much chatter at their tables can they get away with? What is going to drive her mad?
For some children, just learning their new teacher’s name takes weeks. They wander into their old classroom on the way back from assembly, they use the line “in my old class…” repeatedly to begin with, they call us by their old teacher’s name. We expect them to learn all of our habits and routines AND we expect them to achieve their targets and have objectives signed off right from the beginning of term.
I’ve been in class for 2 days. I know all of my children’s names, some of their friendships and many of their habits. But I don’t know it all. Not yet. There’s no way I would expect to know everything about them all already: that’s ridiculous. But I expect so much more of my children – today, I experienced ridiculous frustrations when they didn’t do exactly as I wanted. They didn’t stick their work in neatly enough, or made too much noise at their tables, or lined up in the wrong place. I don’t know it all yet, so why should they? How could they, when I haven’t told them it all yet? There’s so much we assume they should know and don’t specifically teach them. We don’t even know they don’t know it until something crops up in class. So I’ve given myself a good talking to, and I’m not going to get grumpy with them tomorrow. I’m just going to concentrate on training them in my way of learning, teaching them well and making sure they enjoy coming to school.
We’ve got months ahead of us to get to know each other. Why rush it?