Joys and @?#($&^~!! of Third Graders

Hello again!  I’m sorry for the absence.  I really do have multiple excuses: Myanmar internet cable was severed under the Bay of Bengal, constant server troubles, slower-than-dial-up internet when we have it, so slow that most of the time my blog host tries to load and errors out.  But really its more to do with my lack of patience.  I have not felt like sitting for 15-20 minutes watching the little circle spin, hoping that the internet might load without erroring out.  And when it does trying again.

But enough excuses, the internet is slowly working today, so here we go.  I promised to write about the school and the students…

Tomorrow ends week 14.  There are 36 weeks in the school year.  I feel like I have been here much longer as the weeks seem to zoom by.  I can’t believe it is Thursday already!

Is it bad of a teacher to love some students more than others?  I have a couple students that just brighten my day when they walk into view.  They are full of that wonderful happy energy and radiant smiles that just fill me up so completely.  It takes a lot of strength not to just scoop them up and hug them and tell them how wonderful they are – remember they are 8 – 1o years and most are quite small, so scooping is still possible.

I can honestly say that I like all of my students, individually.  I can see the good in each and the potential.  But some are definitely more trying, even in their eagerness to please and be right, they grate.  But I am not so bad as to not realize that giving them encouragement is just as important, if not more so.

IMG_0710Now collectively it is a different matter.  Unfortunately my students succumb to “group mentality” syndrome.  When they are a group, again, unfortunately more often than not,  I want to strangle them.  As a group they can be such brutal little monsters.  They are so cruel to each other.  I know that they are just feeling something so lashing out because they are still trying to grapple with understanding nuances.   But as rational as I can be here, removed and writing about it, during the moment(s!) it sometimes takes all my grown up control to not lash out as they are.

I have yelled at them.  I painfully admit this.  I am not as good of a teacher as I want to be.  But when I have exhausted my arsenal of quieting and calming techniques there have been times that I know my loud, very unhappy voice will shut them up.  Don’t hate me for my lack of grace.  I try not to do that very often.

But on the contrary, yesterday and today were really fun.  Yesterday just flowed.  Nothing special in the morning, just calm, energized learning that was full of smiles, laughter, concentration and good discussions.  In the afternoon we did an activity to simulate how mountains are formed.  We watched a very short video, more for visuals than the details, about tectonic plates and then each table group was given four paper towels and a cup of water.

Now I had tried my little activity (from our science book) early in the morning and thought it was so boring and silly that the kids would scoff at it and that water would be spilled everywhere.  But no, the kids took on their duties with passion.  As instructed they slowly poured the water onto the towels so they wouldn’t over dampen them.  Some even scooped the water out of the cups and sprinkled it on their towels!

Mountain Forming Project 2Mountain Forming Project 3Mountain Forming Project 1Then they took their little hands and pushed the towels together slowly forming ridges that created all sorts of landforms – valleys, plateaus, canyons, mountains.  They were thrilled.  Once everything had been documented they unfolded and refolded their towels in a different way and did it again.  The collaboration, laughter, squeals of delight in what they had formed made me grin from ear-to-ear and giggle right along side them.  Both teacher Ei Mon Than (my assistant teacher) and I couldn’t believe that it was a hit.

Since we had time and the kids were obviously enthralled, I kept it going, this time with only 2 sheets of paper towels.  Then again with only one.  Then each group reported back how many mountains they had formed.  So proud of their accomplishments.  Really fun.

Today in social studies we were studying ancient societies and ways of communication.  So after reading about Egypt I handed out the Egyptian hieroglyphic alphabet (roughly corresponds to the English alphabet).  We all wrote our names in Egyptian and then proceeded to write silly sentences and pass them around for others to decipher.  Silliness and creativity – good combo.  Tomorrow we are learning about the Navajo Code Talkers and they’ll be creating their own secret languages with a partner.  Should be fun.

So these good days are really fun.  I just need to find a way to make them the majority rather than the other way around.

Thanks for your patience.  I will work on having more and trying to not curse the lack of internet service and use the loading time to meditate – or would it be hypnosis as I watch the circle spin?

Anyway – have a great end of your week and I promise to write again soon.

Gretchen

5 Comments

Filed under Education, Myanmar / Burma, Photography, Third Grade

5 responses to “Joys and @?#($&^~!! of Third Graders

  1. patty cassidy

    So fun to read about your trials and successes in the classroom–we have all experienced the days of chaos and the magic.
    So proud of your endurance, tolerance and adventuresome spirit!
    I love the photos–keep them coming.

    I hope you are well and happy–things are good here in PDX–although a hotter than usual summer and gardens look it–

    Nicolas and wife moved to Bend this week and she got a 30hr week ESL teaching job in Redmond and is thrilled since no jobs in Bend panned out for her. New chapter for them–

    Miss you but feel connected with your great blog.

    Lots of love,
    Patty

  2. Karen you are so sweet to still want Oliver in my classroom. I hope he is too! Email me with any questions you might have. Gretchen

  3. Sandra L. Anderson

    Hi Gretchen, loved trying to put myself in your shoes so far away, with all those adorable and wicked little children. They are so lucky to have you!!! I want to go make a mountain. Love, Sandy A

    • Wicked – such a great word. My little munchkins are definitely that sometimes. But I am mellowing and they are too and now we seem to be flowing better. Its finally becoming fun more often than not. Hope you and Steve are enjoying the Fall!

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