I was impressed by teachers before, but after spending part of a morning helping out in B’s class, I’m even more so. I had a great time. I was worried, beforehand, that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I’ve always wanted to be able to help out in my kids’ classes, but I was concerned that either my inner control freak or my outer introvert would be overwhelmed by facing 22 first graders. But it was nothing like how I thought it was going to be.
I was in charge of an arts & crafts/reading project that involved glue and scissors, as well as having the kids read some labels and attach them to their pictures. It was a bit of a challenge to keep on top of where in the project each child was, but it was a lot of fun. And the kids are AMAZING! I was so impressed to see how each one did — some were great with the scissors and neat with the glue, some made an enthusiastic mess; some were lightning fast readers, others struggled but kept consistently working at it; some were patient, some demanded consistent attention. But they all worked diligently at the project. They shared, they cooperated, they were kind to each other. They were awesome.
I, on the other hand, was a bit of a mess. I’m the exact opposite of a good arts & crafts mom — my concern about messes and injuries majorly interferes with my kids’ enjoyment of the process. I do ok with projects involving stickers, crayons or chalk. Scissors and glue … not so much. But I was able to keep my obsessiveness at bay enough for the kids to get on with their work. And besides, it wouldn’t have mattered if I had tried to be obsessive — I don’t think it’s possible to micro-manage 5-6 kids at a time (or, at least, I don’t know how). I kept misplacing supplies, and I was so slow at getting everyone started (and at keeping them going) that my station was a bit of a bottleneck (I think I had 10 or 11 kids at one point). But it was great. I had so much fun, and I was so impressed by the kids.
At the end of our projects, the teacher put on the “Happy” song, and the kids danced around the room tidying up, without complaint. They put away all the scissors, glue, paper, yarn and pencils we’d been using. I had trouble keeping up! Then the teacher had them collect their snacks, which they did, and then they each took a spot and had their snack. One boy cried because a girl sat in “his” spot (they don’t actually have assigned spots), and though the teacher was in the process of encouraging him to find another spot, the girl moved so he could sit where he wanted. (It was like being in a whole classroom full of Benjamins!)
After snack time, it was time for their first recess of the day, so the kids changed their shoes and lined up to go outside. I said goodbye to B and they all went out while I stayed in the classroom to help the teacher make a collage of pictures from a field trip they’d taken earlier in the week. She and I got a chance to chat some more, which was lovely. (Not only do I think she’s a pretty perfect teacher for B, but I think she’s someone I’d be friends with.)
It was a great day. I had the best time. I am so grateful for being able to come in and help (I hope I really did help!) and really glad that B was glad to have me there. It was even more fun than I’d anticipated, and the time really flew by. I can’t wait to go back next week!