Since I'm starting at a new school, I'm coming in at a disadvantage. I don't know these kids or their families.
So I pushed myself to try to learn as much as I could about my new bunch of munchkins. I gave them several "about me" surveys and this year, actually took the time to read them. I mean between all their beginning of the year forms, we're looking at five hundred pages or so...good thing it was a three day weekend!
It took a few hours, but I'm glad I did it. I learned a lot about my new students (and their families). I can easily name off ten fun facts about each kiddo, which is impressive considering I've known them for five days. I also made notes about what I saw during their games of 20 wins and various first week sorts.
Here's a top ten list of things I've learned:
1) I've got some pretty eclectic kids. Some told me they love Mean Girls, others are in Tae Kwon Do, some learned the difference between debit & credit cards this summer.
2) Almost every single one said they struggle with spelling and reading multisyllabic words, which only justifies my decision to spend 10 minutes a day doing phonics during whole group reading.
3) A few of them live around the block from me. I've never had students live so close. I will probably see them out riding their bikes or have them visit on Halloween.
4) They are pretty vocal about their feelings on reading. Some love Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, others hate the series with a passion...and weren't afraid to show it!
5) I've got supportive families. Some filled me in on situations at home, some voiced their concerns about where their kids fall academically, but most want to be involved which is a welcome change.
6) Some already listed me as their favorite teacher, which is adorable. It also makes me worry about their previous teachers...but we'll have a great year.
7) Quite a few want to learn how to use the dictionary. I don't know if their third grade teachers skipped that standard, but we'll be sure to cover both traditional and electronic dictionaries this year. (Ninjawords.com is my favorite!)
8) They're really good at coaching one another. I don't know if I should give their previous teachers credit for this (or perhaps their parents), but during our math games they were helping one another. Yes, there was friendly competition but they were genuinely wanting one another to grasp the concept at hand.
9) They work well together. Some of them said their best friends are in the class. I've only had to move one child in the first week. Very few needed a gentle nudge about participating with the group and I'm thinking it was because they already knew the answers and didn't want to give it away. I'm pleased they want to talk to one another.
10) They are full of joy. They're inquisitive. They want to learn. This is the best possible scenario I could ask for as a teacher.
It's going to be a great year.