This class has had 4 teachers in a VERY short amount of time. This class is VERY CHOLERIC. Many of the children have VERY firm opinions about HOW THINGS SHOULD BE DONE. And were not shy about letting the teacher know it. Teacher mostly maintained her calm and composure, but it's clear that the class at this point in the school year has worn her down. I'm betting she's glad she's got a 10 day break coming up.
Many students (read over half) couldn't keep still. Chairs leaning back, rocking on chairs, desks leaning forward and brought back. Fiddling with objects. Another good portion could not get their heads off the desk. If requested to stand, they leaned. If requested to sit, their head went to the desktop. Wow.
It took a lot of directions and physical instruction to get them to move. First thing after a quick greeting outside the class went out and did farm chores. I accompanied the group that went out to the large animals in the back forty. Another parent helper attempted to get them to comply to instructions. The students basically ignored her and did what they chose. I stepped in with TEACHER voice and got compliance. Reluctant and surly, but compliance.
After the farm/garden chores, we returned to the classroom. We shook hands, and I asked each child to introduce himself. Teacher got the class seated and gave me a chair in the back to observe. This class has a WIDE and I mean VAST breadth in abilities. First activity, mental math. If they got their problem they were to pull out their journals and write on the day's topic. I was really impressed how Teacher met the students where they were in math. Some of the more advanced students got multiple process mental math with BIG numbers (read: hundreds and thousands). The not so advanced got simpler, one process, basic multiplication problems.
Next activity after Journaling was the "World of Words" utilizing a bean bag (first time I've seen this in action with children). Participation in the World of words took coaxing from some of the children and the suppression of others (i.e. the ones in the back going "O! O! Pick me! Pick me!") Material today was common and proper nouns. Teacher says a word and tosses a bean bag to get a student to identify the spoken word as either common or proper. Teacher threw in some tricky ones to throw the students off. For example, she threw bag at one student and word was "Rhino". Student who caught the bag said proper. Students in class yelled out "common", what they thought was the correct answer. Turns out the class was wrong. Teacher knew that the student holding the bag had a pet at home whose name is Rhino. This got a LOT of laughs.
I got a chance to chat with Teacher during recess. According to her 14 of the 17 need Extra Lesson. In addition, many need more than that. I found out that many in the class are youngest child which explains why some of them are so advanced. They've heard this material at home with older siblings. Most of her focus is still on social skills. How to behave. How to speak to adults. How to speak to each other. How to be kind. She related that at the beginning of the year they were downright cruel to each other. They have improved greatly, of which she is very proud of them. But she figures it will take most of their elementary time to "normalize" (My phrase not hers) Academically, she is meeting them where they are at (Oh and it shows. She has a masterful way of bringing everyone into the conversation. Making it comprehensible for the ones who already know the material and those who just aren't getting it.) A Trained Tutor works with many in the class. (Who also happens to be a Fifth Grade parent and the one with the new van.)
Teacher is also very choleric and mentioned that all she does is teach. She has no time nor energy for anything else. After only 2 hours of observation, I can see why.
Wish I could have spent more time in this class, but childcare arrangements demanded otherwise.