the Delta factor

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 13 2010

continuously increasing effectiveness

Walking in the hallway. My kids are actually really good at it, but don’t tell them that. We can be better. We keep bubbles in our cheeks to keep from talking, put our hands in our pockets for as long as we can remember to, and set out- stopping at every corner or natural interval so we can all stay together. The plan is for there to be paw prints on the floor so that students know which block to stand on. This is not a criticism of my school; they’re just not there yet. I trust there are more pressing concerns. With 8 year olds, you could just say: “Stop at the next door”. 5 year olds? Not so much. Unless I’m walking in front, they’re going to swerve all over the hallway. They can’t walk in a straight line unless they have a constant target. (Like, say, paw prints on the floor). And even then, some- I’m looking at you, M- struuuuggggle.

So I walk backwards. No big deal. I like to manage them with pointed gestures, glares, and thumbs up. Today was our first day at the library, and therefore my first time walking the full length of the third grade hallway. Turns out, there’s a massive water fountain there. With a concrete step in front of it.

I BUSTED it. Bruises for sure, broke the clipboard I was carrying. And when I looked up and my kids had stopped and stepped out of line to fan into the middle of the hallway, I was so disappointed. Stay in line! As though there were even adults who could’ve controlled the impulse to look. It makes me think about cars slowing down to look at the crash site on the side of the highway.

Luckily, the hall was empty. The librarian heard the fall, came and got my children so I could tend to my wounds and tears in peace. (I managed not to curse! Impressive, right?) It will be a great story to tell younguns when I’m a seasoned vet. But today it was all pain, and frustration that I’m not as good with kindergartners as I was at the end of two years with second graders. What do you mean I have to be even more patient? I was maxed out already! What do you mean this is a new school and I haven’t settled into a routine yet? Who has time? These kids need to learn so much! Like, how to follow directions and not bump into each other as we’re walking. How to tie their shoes, zip zippers, and tuck in shirts. How to write their names.

The advice from my grade group chair? “Once you accept that they’re kindergartners, not second graders, you’ll be good.”

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