Yesterday we were all sitting in a circle doing some exciting Author Share. In walks our wonderful school social worker to deliver a note to a student and to observe a bit. After our author share, I reposition myself next to the student being observed, as I often do, to keep her active in our activity.

I began to explain to the class that we would be leaving soon to visit with our first grade buddies, which they all love. In fact, the student I had placed myself next to was so excited that she leaned on me, putting a hand on my leg and a hand on my back (we're criss-cross on the floor). Promptly after her "hug," she looks at me and whispers (think volume level of a game of tag at recess),

"I can feel your bra!"

In front of everyone. I quickly turn and whisper, "Please keep those thoughts in your head." In order to not draw attention.

She then leans forward to a friend across the circle and says,

"Psst, I can feel her bra!"

Then a boy on the other side of the circle yells out "That's gross!"

Later we had a private talk about appropriate comments, blah blah blah. I had to wait a bit for my face to return to normal shade.

I couldn't even make eye contact with the social worker or I'd share her response as well. Aw, well, that will just be something to laugh about during our meeting. Wonderful.


Intersession Recovery

I am currently recovering from 2 weeks of intersession with 1st and 2nd graders. About 25 of them. Two classes, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Today I told my students, my fourth grade students, that I was so happy to be back in the classroom with them.

What did I find a new appreciation for? The fact that they try to at least hide the fact that they are picking their nose. And that they can tie their shoes. Or if not, they have moved on to velcro.

They look a foot taller and sound so much smarter than when I left them two weeks ago.

I will not complain about my wonderful fourth graders for at least a week.

I also have to say that my classroom is mighty lonely. I dropped down to 19 students today after getting used to 23. We added a new fourth grade classroom, and each class "donated" some students in order to populate the new class and lower our teacher-student ratio. Hooray. But in looking around my room today, "full" of students, I couldn't help but think "where is everyone?"


Home Visits

I have travelled back in time to the ways, the good old days and good old ways, of door to door service. One door is creaky, metal, and leads to my classroom... the other door is to the home of my student.

I have found that experiencing what is behind THEIR door is what makes what goes on behind mine that much more meaningful. When I can reach them by reminding them about what they learned in Karate in second grade - you know -when their dad made them go to karate and they hated it at first but then they loved it and learned how to become more assertive in a GOOD way... These are things that I learned around the coffee table with my student, and her family.

I drove up to my first home visit the other afternoon. I waited around school until about 6pm, then headed over to her house. THEIR house. I strolled up to the door, not knowing what to expect behind it, and a little uneasy. After all, it was my first trip to their house. I imagine it was how the student felt when she walked into my classroom for the first time.

I stayed there for an hour, lounging around the living room (no TV, this was the formal space in the house), and listened to how the parents have provided for their daughter and siblings in the last 10 years. The trip to Disney, the trip back to Panama to see family for the first time since they left, the karate, the soccer, and the questions about how to pay for college.

Yes. Their daughter is a fourth grader. She was born in the US, while her parents were not. They came to the country "to make family and get good jobs for our children" (the ones not yet born). I was energized by their questions, and so proud that they were already thinking about how and when to worry about college. I shared stories about my first time figuring it out, and how it was scary figuring out where all of that money was coming from. I laughed with them as they shared that they were shocked that I wasn't "a natural" in figuring out the college thing - and how hard it was for me to get through and finish. I hope, and I think, that some of what I shared put them at ease.

The parents also shared that they talk to their daughter, my student, telling her the dangers of drugs and alcohol. They were so open and honest with the student, and I hold it close to my heart that they shared those previous discussions with me.

I left the house feeling excited about the connections I could make with this student in class. How I could use what I know about her and her family to bridge our school world and her home world... extending the learning.

I gave my students the choice this year - home visit or school visit. I was curious to see how many families would choose the home visit if given a choice. So far I have four. Out of 19 families that have responded.

Next year I am not sure if I will give them a choice at first. I am realizing quickly what a hearty lifeline the home visits are to education.

Oh, and a mental note. Snacks are necessary if staying that late at school. I think my stomach rumbled right around minute 12. An uninvited guest.