One year I was looping with my class of first graders up to second grade. Towards the end of our first year together, I got a new student. This little girl had been kicked out of her previous school for telling an adult to go partake in a "suggestive activity". (You'll have to use your imaginations since this is going to be a curse-free blog.) Needless to say, she was a bit of a challenge. Her reputation was well-deserved, but it wasn't completely accurate. She had a wonderful sense of humor. She was one of those students who drives you crazy one minute and tugs at your heart the next. Throughout the end of that year and into the next, she and I developed a strong bond. On especially exasperating days, I would clutch my hair and say, "Oh look, there's another gray hair with your name on it growing on my head." One morning towards the end of our second year together, she came up to me when she arrived and began picking through my hair. I pulled away and asked her what she was doing. She replied, "I'm looking for my gray hair so that I can say good morning to it." Needless to say, that day started with a good laugh.
Earlier this year, I found a note on my desk after the kids had gone home for the day. Here is a copy:
Dear Amy Grout,
I am never speaking to you again because you never pay attention to me and you won't let me read green AR books.
"Susie Second Grader"
After I quit laughing, I ran across the hall to show my friend. I told her I was so proud of Susie. She wrote in complete sentences and was using her words to share how she was feeling rather than picking up her desk and slamming it down onto the floor (Her usual method for communicating her anger.) During the last few days of school, while I was cleaning out a desk drawer, I found this note. When my class returned from specials, I called Susie over and showed her the note. She looked at it, laughed and then gave me a hug. Those are the moments when you know you have made a small difference in a child's life.
Conversation during a "Kite" unit in first grade.
First Grader: Ms. Grout, I think we should take a field trip to Japan to see the kites.
Me: That sounds like a lot of fun, but we aren't going to be able to do that.
First Grader: Why not?
Me: Well, Japan is too far away for us to get back here before dismissal.
First Grader: But you don't understand, on the way back we could stop in France to see a French kiss.