Saturday, September 1, 2007

If you can read this, thank a teacher

In the past few days, lots and lots of people have been giving me advice on how to handle my first days of school as an elementary school teacher. Some of it has been helpful ("When you're writing a mini-lesson, always ask yourself: What is it that you want the kids to know by the end of the lesson?"), some of it has been well-meaning in a way that just ends up freaking me out a little ("Before the first day of school, take a sleeping pill, because no one sleeps that night"), and some of it has been downright terrifying ("They can smell fear. So don't show them a moment of weakness, or they will run you into the ground").

But by far the strangest advice I've gotten has come from my real estate broker (a former elementary school teacher herself), who gave me the inside scoop today as we were waiting for my credit check to go through.

"Do you have stickers?" she asked me. No, I replied, I hadn't gotten any yet.

She raised a single finger for emphasis and gazed straight at me, her eyes flashing with intensity.

"Don't go in there without stickers," she said.

The first thing I did after leaving her office was to eat a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles. The second was to run to Staples and buy two packages of tiny happy face stickers (1,440 stickers in a pack!) for $2.99 each.

I'm still worried about crying kindergarteners, remembering the names of approximately 400 different children, differentiating instruction for 17 classes and planning a curriculum around the all-too-nebulous directions given to me thus far. But apparently as long as I have stickers, everything will turn out fine.

2 comments:

jonathan said...

For eleven years I've been teaching high school, and for ten of them I've been giving out stickers. Over the years I have assembled quite a collection.

Some days, before handing back tests or quizzes, I'll ask a class which ones I should use. Or, retaining some of my 'authority' "Pretty or shiny or stinky?"

This year has been the stickeriest year so far. This conversation has occurred a few times:

"Why should we study more and come to tutoring?"
few kids respond: "To get higher scores"
"And why do we want higher scores?"
"More stickers!"

I know I'm two months late on commenting. But I just read your entire blog today (and linked it).

First year is tough. Looks like you're coping well. (and writing quite nicely!)
"How can we get higher scores?"

jonathan said...

And I seem to have introduced myself with a typo. sigh.