Monday, January 19, 2015

My Night With a First Grader

Every year, my school has a silent auction to raise money for our school's PTA. The items to bid on do not only include trips to DisneyWorld or massages at a local spa, but the teachers themselves offer up a night out (usually in a group or with a team). Children then have the opportunity to happily bid on an evening spent bowling, getting pedicures, or catching the latest G rated film with the person who earlier that day taught them a math lesson.

Along with my vertical gifted/talented team, we created a "Game and Movie Night" that children were able to bid on. I remember laughing out of surprise when I received word on who won a night out with me, the ol' teach.

*Charlie is a student who I can honestly say has the ability to challenge my own thinking while at the same time make me melt into a puddle. He is a bold and bright leader, the kind of kid who can rule the school. All the other kids like him, want to be around him, follow his lead, think he is funny, and so forth. When I go around in a circle each day telling my students individually "good morning" and "I love you," he is the student that doesn't say "I love you" back because it's just not cool for such a cool guy to do so. But every now and then he will let it slip without thinking and quickly cover his mouth and turn bright red and pretend like nothing ever happened. Oh, and his MIND...he is one of the most well-spoken, intellectual children I have ever come across at the age of 7. He has the communication skills of an adult and can explain some of the most intricate topics or define higher-level vocabulary like it's nobody's business. He is just all around a cool kid, and a joy to teach.

So imagine my surprise when he bid on a night with me! I, not being very cool, got the chance to hang out with this super cool kid along with my coworkers and their winning bidders. I was really excited for the opportunity to get to let loose and have a laid-back night with a student- to see him more in his element without the pressures of school and work and projects and such. The night came, and there Charlie was in the library, waiting for me with a wooden chess board in hand.

We ate pizza, had lots of chocolate, watched a movie about math (which our highly gifted kids couldn't get over and kept talking about need for Frozen when you have Donald Duck in Mathematics Land, you know), and played hilarious games. And we laughed. A lot. I don't know if I've laughed that hard in a long time. At one point I was actually crying and wiping my eyes. Charlie totally let his walls down too and had a blast with the other children, teachers, and me. And when your student's parent comes to pick him up at 8:30 pm and he says he doesn't want to leave or go silently cheer on the inside because you know that means they find time with you, or time at school, valuable.

I write about this night on here because I just don't want to forget how cool it was to spend time with a student outside of school hours and just be real in front of them. It made me reflect on how I want to be more "real" and transparent on a daily basis in the classroom, to let my students see the real Mrs. Rubinson- that I am a human being that can laugh, make mistakes and learn from them, have fun and relax and not constantly succumb to the pressures of test scores or perfectionism. I will never forget last school year when one of my students saw me laughing one day and mentioned, "Mrs. Rubinson, you're laughing! I never see you laugh." It struck such a powerful chord with me and I was determined to never let that be the case again. This year, laughing is a daily occurrence in our classroom- I make sure of it- because it's okay. Building relationships and classroom community isn't just about everything being perfectly timed and scheduled, or about rules and expectations constantly being followed to where humor and laughter can't be a part of your daily routine. I know my tendencies to always want to prove myself, to always want to appear to have it perfectly together, to always want to be in control of my surroundings- and those are tendencies that I don't want to pass on to my students. I want to pass on laughter. Love. Kindness. Honesty. Respect. Joy. Thankfulness for each day, even if a lesson goes awry or something falls apart.

My kids have taught me so much this year, as my students always do every year, and I thank them deeply for it. The perspective of 6-7 year olds can rival my own at times when their simplistic realities defeat my complicated tangle of distractions and mess of thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. Love the portrait painted of "Charlie" - just perfect. Thanks for sharing! ~ LP