4.1 Spring 2022

July 21, Compliment

“What’s the word? Compliment?” Wendy asked me as soon as I got into the office.

“Positive? Then yes, compliment.” I said.

“Oh, well the 4-6 teacher complimented you.”

Fourth grade is pretty good overall but some classes are easier to manage than others. About half of the teachers dip as soon as I arrive, or even before, which as we know is par for the course, no matter how much policy emphasizes that I cannot be alone with the students.

Unless it’s for a whole week of summer camp then it’s allowed, for reasons I can’t begin to unravel.

4-4 is great; the homeroom teacher is always there and also had a good class last year, which indicates to me that it’s not the group of kids necessarily but her skills as a homeroom teacher.

I don’t need the homeroom teacher in the room, but I do personally think that the ones who stay are more invested in their students and have a better classroom atmosphere overall.

The 4-6 homeroom teacher is new to me, but I really like her style. Her class is on a different floor than the other fourth graders so I usually arrive a little after the bell. Before I enter the classroom, she has one student come to the podium and announce the period subject. The kids do so very seriously and with an air of great responsibility.

I’ve personally found that it’s really important to give kids responsibility. It helps me, too. This semester instead of passing out papers myself, I ask for volunteers to help me. I have volunteers in every single class in every single grade. In fourth grade, I’ve had classes where fifteen kids energetically volunteer to pass out white boards or keep the scoreboard and get upset when they’re not chosen.

I’ve noticed that even with some hyperactive kids, 4-6 has a supportive atmosphere. One talkative boy tells the hyperactive girl to “take deep breaths” when she’s getting over-excited which, amazingly, works. I remind the over-eager kids to please be quiet so their shyer classmates can participate.

A few weeks ago I complimented 4-6 on their good attitude and teamwork.

“The other classes got angry and fought during the team game. But you did very well and helped each other.” They all clapped, including the homeroom teacher whose eyes shined with a sort of sharp pride.

“The 4-6 homeroom teacher said she’s learning teaching from you,” Wendy said.

I didn’t quite believe her, the 4-6 teacher is in her mid-40s and has decades more experience than me. Perhaps it’s a cultural difference to say “I’m learning from you” as a compliment but I appreciate it all the same. It’s nice to know that my efforts are being recognized.

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