Ok, ok, let me clarify: I didn’t really spend the whole day in a 3rd grade classroom, but I try to volunteer for a couple of hours each Friday. Both of my daughters attend the same elementary school; one is in Kindergarten (not garden) and the other is in 3rd grade. Since the K teacher has a parapro, I spend a little more time in the other classroom.
Although I am not overjoyed about being unemployed, I do (kinda) enjoy seeing them off to school, waiting for them to get off the bus, and all the stuff that happens in between, such as serving as Room Parent. I really don’t think that what I do for the 1 or 2 hours is a big deal, but let the teacher tell it, my time is a ‘tremendous help.’ So what exactly do I do that lightens the load for this teacher? Well, I spend my time getting the kids’ Friday Folders ready. Sounds simple, huh? It is for me, but imagine trying to teach abstract concepts such as time to eighteen kids, add to that the fact that you have to repeat concepts because some kids are pulled-out for other services (e.g., speech, reading, etc.), and having your instructional year reduced by approximately 3 weeks due to the various tests you must administer. If that’s not enough, how about the fact that you don’t really get to use your planning time to plan because your administrator wants to have meetings all the time. Some things are better said in an email….I’m just sayin. Not everything needs to be discussed in a meeting-type forum. But don’t forget, you still have to find time to grade, do lesson plans, administer county-wide Interim assessments every 9 weeks, test reading levels, lunch duty, and prepare Friday folders. Silly me! I forgot to mention that teachers have to do all of that with three fewer work days due to mandatory statewide furloughs.
So as I sat at the table, sorting the students’ papers and the weekly junk mail sent home by the school, I listened to the teacher explaining the concept of lapsed time.
She asked, “Does everyone understand how we got that answer?” A few students said no. She made another attempt at explaining. Fewer blank stares that time.
I’m thinking: “How in the heck do you teach something like elapsed time? I don’t even remember learning the concept. I struggled trying to teach my kids because it’s practically an innate skill for me.”
She continued, reassuring the kids that they were doing a good job and they would spend more time working on the skill. I remembered how I struggled to teach multiplication to some of my former students, which is a little easier because you can model that, but time? Whew! Hats off to the primary grades teachers…they do more in the classroom than people can imagine, which is why giving an hour or two of my time each week is, in my eyes, insignificant. Alas, the teacher insists that it makes a huge difference. Who am I to argue?
BTW: For those of you who think teachers have it easy because they are off during the summer (well, some of them), think again! That is a time for recuperation (God forbid a teacher should actually use a sick day), reflection, professional development, graduate study, and any futile attempts at a social life. Oddly, they don’t complain-they only ask for a fair wage and a little respect.