Friday, September 5, 2014

1st Grade Rocks!

We have now wrapped up our first two weeks of first grade, and it looks like Ian is going to have a wonderful year! I wouldn't say last year was a bad year for Ian, but it wasn't the fun, inspiring kindergarten year I was hoping it would be. Ian's teacher seemed nice, but it was obvious from the first minute I stepped in her room at Meet the Teacher night that her heart wasn't really into this whole teaching thing. Her room wasn't ready, she didn't seem prepared, she seemed quite distracted, and more than anything, I could just feel that she didn't really seem excited about the start of another year. Over the course of the year, there was virtually no communication from Ian's teacher, she was absent A LOT, and Ian's behavior and attitude towards school really started to take a downward turn. As it turns out, from what I understand his teacher ended up leaving the education field at the end of the year to focus on another career (her real estate business I believe). I genuinely respect her for realizing maybe this wasn't what she enjoyed doing, and I appreciate that she moved on to other things. While the education field is constantly losing awesome professionals, unfortunately there are also some duds who really, really need to go who manage to stick around forever. Teaching is extremely hard even if you love it, so I can't imagine what it feels like if your heart isn't in it. Anyway, that was last year, but I did have some concern about who he would get this year. I know every year he isn't going to have an *awesome* teacher, but I'm hoping we can sprinkle them in, especially while he is young, so he has a positive, excited view of school. 

The Thursday before school started, August 21st, the teacher assignments were posted outside of Ian's school at 10am. My mother-in-law was in town that week and was nice enough to walk over with Ian to see who he had. As soon as she knew, she texted me, and then I proceeded to text a friend who had a son who had been in first grade the year before. It was good news! I was very happy to hear that she was a great teacher, but I couldn't wait until that night to meet her myself. 

That evening, we walked over for Meet the Teacher night. We are very fortunate to live within walking distance of Ian's elementary school. We entered Ian's classroom, and I immediately felt overcome with emotion. I'm generally not a weepy or emotional person, but I just felt like this was going to be such a good year for Ian, and that was so incredibly important to me. Her room was warm and inviting, and in the midst of meeting her new students, the teacher kept getting interrupted by hugs from her students from years past who HAD to stop by to see her. Clearly she had made an impact on them and that relationship had continued. 

First day of First Grade - Monday, August 25th, 2014

When I picked Ian up after his first day of school, he seemed so excited and eager to tell me about his day. Like kindergarten, the first graders have a color chart that is filled out each day. Green is a great day with little or no redirection and then it goes down based on conduct to yellow, orange, and red. Ian's teacher told the students on the first day, that no one in her class had ever, ever, ever, ever been on orange or red. :)  Obviously, I know that's probably not the case (or that a student never deserved an orange or red day), but I loved that she set her students up for success. She wanted them to expect success, and she told them what they could do to bring their color back up if they made a mistake. Brilliant! 

Green days are good days!

At the end of the first week, we received a letter about a program/app Ian's teacher (reading and writing) and the switch teacher (math and science) would be using called Class Dojo. There was an app that could be downloaded onto our phones to monitor his progress and behavior or we could log into the website. Ian loves it, and I do too. The students are given "points" for good behavior (i.e., following directions, finishing things on time, good teamwork, etc.). They can also lose points for various things. So far, Ian has lost three points for not sitting criss-crossed, talking out of turn, and not sitting in his chair correctly. I appreciate knowing what he needs to work on, and it helps him see what his teachers are noticing. He LOVES hearing what good points have been noted. I'm sure this takes some work and dedication on the part of the teachers, but I really appreciate it and hope they are able to keep it up. What a neat app and it's free! 

 Class Dojo Screenshot

Ian has already come home and told us about all kinds of new words he has learned, and we've only had 9 days of school. He was especially proud to come home and talk to us about the words: embrace, ancestor, evaluate, and analyze. I'm not sure what all is going on during the day, but his two teachers have him pumped!  A great teacher who loves her job makes all the difference in the world! We lucked out this year. :) I think the little guy is in for a wonderful, memorable year, and this Momma is so incredibly grateful for that!

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