Today was for me — and for many, many other teachers — the first day back after winter break. Other than feeling the pain of jet lag when the alarm went off early this morning, the day went really well.
Cherry and Chutney — alone of the whole class — threw their arms around me when they got to school. Everyone else was more subdued, with shy grins on their faces. When I picked them up from gym, they had formed an ABC line all by themselves in about five seconds, and were waiting quietly for me to come take them back to class. Their good behavior lasted all morning.
At morning meeting, they wanted to know why there was a picture of a guy on the calendar (on January 18), so I explained about Martin Luther King, Jr., and we ended up looking at a poster about him, which led to discussions about racism, unfairness, Rosa Parks, the Montgomery bus boycott, voting rights, and his murder. They were fascinated, and I told them we’d probably talk about Dr. King each day, because the day honoring him will be coming in two weeks.
Then we talked about our new theme, Under the Sea. I showed them maps of the United States, Africa, and Asia, so we could talk about where we live now, where our ancestors (or in the case of my Vietnamese student, her parents) came from, and how the land masses are surrounded by water, which we call oceans or seas. Then we looked at a poster about fish, and discussed the characteristics of fish, and how they are the same or different from people (for example, fish have bones, and so do we — the whole class started prodding their bodies and shouting out the locations of their bones — “my knee!” “my fingers!” “my eye!” “no, not your eye, honey, but you do have an eye socket in your skull around your eye…..”).
Then I introduced the math theme, which involves the numbers 1-5. We learned our new math song, which involves the numbers to three, and I was very impressed that this class can march, hop, jump, or clap exactly three times and then stop. Most previous classes have just jumped and jumped and not connected it to counting at all.
One girl showed me a nasty scratch on her upper arm in the middle of morning meeting. Later, I asked her if she could tell me how she got it, and she wouldn’t. I told her that she could tell me any time, and I would try to make her feel better. Her only response was to throw her arms around me and give me a really long hug. She sees a counselor once a week, so when the counselor comes to get her on Wednesday morning, I will tell her about the scratch. It might be nothing, but maybe someone gave it to her….