I taught third grade and kindergarten in my teaching years, and I loved it with all my heart. They're different in their greatness and I loved them uniquely.
Kindergarteners learn so much from that first day to the last. They come fresh from preschool, not yet knowing how to form a line to walk down the hall, raise their hands to speak, or write their names at the top of the page. When they graduate, they're ready for first grade, and they are contributing members of their first little society.
Plus, I got to teach them to read. And I still put myself to sleep at night with the knowledge that dozens of children are reading their favorite classics tonight because I taught them consonants, vowels, and word families (in a blend of phonics and whole language).
Third graders are old enough to really dig into some great projects, like The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, dissecting a cow eyeball, and playing Bunko to learn averages and probability. And they're still young enough to believe their teacher hung the moon.
But I also happen to believe that second grade is a best kept secret in the spectrum of elementary experiences. I bet you've never met a second grade teacher who didn't love her job.
I volunteered in the second grade class this morning, since I happen to have one stellar second grader who thinks I'm a pretty cool visitor. Today was the fest of the pumpkins, and I would lead my group of five through a series of experiments and activities to measure, weigh, sink or float, and count the seeds of our pumpkins.
They call me Mrs. Tucker.
When the teacher was assigning students to small groups, she said, "Julie will be in Tucker's mom's group. Oh, wait… that mean's Julie will be the only girl."
I chimed in from the perimeter of the classroom, "No, she won't be the only one. I'm a girl. Julie, I think we can do this together, if you're willing to give it a try with me. We'll be buddies."
Tuck announced that I only like boys. I declared my willingness to make an exception.
Oh, my goodness. To sit and think with those children again, to hear their predictions and hypotheses, and to hear them use words like 'prediction' and 'hypothesis.' Once a teacher, always a teacher, I guess. Immediately, I remembered how to do this with them.
It was like riding a bike.
Or falling off a bike.
Or falling off a log.
Or riding a log.
Wait. Not that one. It's definitely not that one.
But it felt good to stretch my teacher muscles, to remember that even if I'm not so great at getting two boys to finish their homework each night, I've still got the goods with a lesson plan, a goal in mind, some bulletin board borders, and flower pots to hold the community supply of pencils.
Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher.