My very first ever placement for student teaching three years ago at UNC was in a third grade classroom in Chapel Hill. I was there once a week and spent my mornings in a writer’s workshop with some pretty neat kids who are now in sixth grade (?!?!?!?!?! JUST REALIZED THIS AND AM FREAKING OUT).
Here I am a few years later teaching all by myself (literally all by myself — no teaching assistant! But that’s another post in itself) in a third grade classroom in Durham.
That first student teaching placement only lasted a semester, and like I said, I was only there for one morning every week. Needless to say, this didn’t really give me the most accurate picture of daily third grade life. Despite this, I knew there was something really awesome about third grade.
Personally, fourth grade was my favorite grade in elementary school. I had the best teacher, everyone in my class got along really well (BFFLZ), and I was introduced to my now all-time favorite author, Roald Dahl. I also learned all about North Carolina history in fourth grade, and I think that’s when I caught the history bug.
I student taught full-time in fourth grade and really enjoyed it. It was fun teaching concepts I recalled struggling with when I was 10-years-old, and it made for great teaching point connections. The lessons were fun and I’d like to think my kids enjoyed the teaching and learning time we spent together.
Despite my true love for fourth grade, I chose to teach third grade. To be completely honest, part of the reason I chose third grade was because the upper-grades in Durham scared me and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that. I also prefer being taller than the students I teach.
The last couple weeks haven’t been my favorite behaviorally — I can tell the kids are ready for spring break (…I can’t blame them), and their constant chatter lets me know they’re ready, too. Disrespect is never easy for me to accept, and I’ve certainly caught myself overreacting to misbehaviors. This has just been such a long stretch with no break for us, and I can feel my patience thinning as April draws closer. I’m praying for patience and compassion every day, and I’m thinking about how I want my kids to feel when they leave my room at the end of every day. I want them to feel loved and that they’ve learned lots of neat new things, and most of all I want them to share that newfound knowledge in all its glory!
Even though we’ve hit a couple annoying little behavioral bumps, things are still good and I have no real reason to complain (because how could I complain when I have a job that matches my degree that I also love so much?). As far as lessons go, the last couple weeks have been fantastic. The planning has been especially fun, and I think the learning has been, too. We just started a unit on the human body, which is always so fascinating. I mean let’s be serious, who isn’t interested in how the body works? We’ve also started a series of lessons on plays and poetry, and the kids have LOVED working through plays! It’s been incredible watching them all get so excited about reading and writing. I have students who are writing plays from scratch, from their own minds — absolutely magical. We’ve also been working through some geometry lessons, and the kids find shapes to just be the coolest. It surprises me how spatially apt some of these kids are — I love it.
If you couldn’t tell, I’ve really enjoyed planning lessons for these topics. We’re having so much fun, and I think that’s so important when it comes to learning. If kids see that learning new information is fun and exciting, then they’re going to want to continue to foster that passionate drive they have for filling their brains with more knowledge and trying new things.
Third grade has been such a clutch choice. I knew you learned fun things in third grade, and I really liked the concept of growing independence throughout the year. It’s amazing to know that these students come to you as little second graders in August, but then they leave you as these on-their-own fourth graders ready to take on the world.
At least that is why I envision will happen when they leave me in June…