A new pastime of mine at school has become being silent intruder… I don’t get a fancy Mission Impossible outfit and I don’t break in with ropes. Lately, I’ve been prone to walking into first grade classrooms unannounced. The lovely teachers in my hallway don’t mind a bit. Their classrooms are always calm, quiet, organized, and tranquil… so nothing like a kindergarten classroom. If first grade is learning to leave the nest, kindergarten is the, sometimes violent and erratic, business of hatching.
During my lunchtime, I just can’t resist popping in to see old sprouts from last year and just see how their rooms are running. At this point in the year, first grade is starting to look a lot like second grade. Reading is becoming fluent and writing is getting longer, neater, and deeper. It’s a sight to see.
The funny thing is, the two first grade teachers I share the hallway with are on opposite sides of the spectrum. One is a veteran with years of experience and the other is a newbie… it’s her first year. Yet both rooms are almost identical. I pride myself on fostering independence in my classroom, but the amount of autonomy I see in these first grade rooms is staggering.
The other day I walked into the newbie’s classroom. She was sitting at a table with a few friends and the rest of the class was working around the room. Some were reading in the library, others were on computers, a few were writing, and one little boy was doing a math activity on the floor. It was virtually silent. I was almost jealous… almost.
While I envy the calm and peaceful atmosphere I find in the first grade classrooms in my hallway (ahhhhh, the sound of silence…), part of me enjoys the chaos that comes with kindergarten. The crazy, loud, and even frantic, nature of five and six-year-olds suits me. We’re learning to be independent… I’m getting them ready for their first grade serenity. Those first grade teachers owe me big time.