Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"My Brain Hurts Today"


It has been five months too long since I have last blogged and I feel like there is SO much I want to bring light to in my first post after that long, unintentional, blog haitus- lessons, conversations amongst kids, conversations amongst coworkers, workshops, trainings, PDs... I mean, you name it, I can talk about it. What strikes me as interesting is that it was four words from a 5 year old TODAY that compelled me to open up my computer and start typing...

You know what's funny? How your daily lessons to you 5-8 year olds show up in your own, adult life way more than you expect them to. For those of you who do not know, I am a reading and writing teacher for students in kindergarten, first and second grade. Kids at this age are so egotistical- all they want to write about is something they feel a strong passion, desire or connection to. More times than not, this points back at them- something they did, somewhere they went, experienced, saw. As most teachers can attest to, when students are interested in a topic, their writing SOARS.  Their stories leave out important details because their brain works faster than their hand. You can see the passion on their paper, as you decipher if it's a d or a b the student attempted to write on top of the poor attempt of erasing a mistake.  Right now, that 6 year old in the writing center whose mind is racing faster than fingers can type, is me.

Let me paint the picture for you- it is a Tuesday morning after a four day weekend for the students. Some students come in wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, rested and ready for the week while other students drag their backpack on the ground as they move slower than a sloth into your classroom and forget to perform step number 1 of their morning routine: checking in. You, as the teacher, expect this, and greet each student, awake or not quite awake yet, with a big smile and a cheerful "Good morning, __________!" (one of the most important things to do, in my opinion). The students unpack, begin their morning work and the room is silent... not bad for a Tuesday after a holiday break. The bell rings, we watch the morning announcements, perform our morning jobs, sing our morning songs, and share the best thing we did this weekend. I sit back and smile, as my students soak in every word their friend next to them says, sincerely interested in how their classmates' weekends were. This right here, this is what I live for. We wrap up our conversation, discuss center activities and move into our first rotation... and just like that, we're moving and grooving through our week. I ring the bell, signaling to my little ones that it is time to move to their next station, and just as they have been trained to do, they do so quickly, quietly and orderly. And then it happens...

My next group consists of 4 girls... 4 lovely girls, who are eager to learn, on most days. We get through our guided reading lesson (jam packed with sight words, comprehension questions, reading strategies, higher order thinking questions, etc.) and have some extra time, where I decide to complete some activities from last week. I get everyone situated and am helping one student sound out some words, and that's when I notice it.... one of my sweet angel's head goes down on the table. I immediately ask her what's wrong- she doesn't say anything, but looks up at me and her big, brown eyes, filling up quickly with tears say more than enough. She crawls into my lap and as I hold her, I ask again, "Sweetheart, what's wrong?" ... Ready for it? My sweet, innocent, sight word loving child whispers to me,
"Ms. McDevitt, my brain hurts today." 
And then, the tears come. At this point, I don't know who was more upset... this child who can't work any longer because her brain can't handle it, or her teacher, who has been packing information in at such a fast rate that this sweet child can't process it all. And that's when I had to stop and reflect... what on EARTH are we making these 5 year olds do these days... Food for thought, friends, food for thought...