Despite the numerous, depressing headlines that filled our screens and newspapers this week, it’s refreshing to be able to reflect on the remarkable and wonderful week I experienced with my fifth grade class. I am so lucky to be working with such an amazing group of students and educators. Each new day is infused with wonderful gifts of thought and action. It’s as if I’m working in a brilliant snow globe of awesomeness that is shaken on a daily basis. I love watching the snowflakes of creativity, kindness, and compassion fall all around me.
I thought I would start today’s entry with a short little poem I’ve been working on…
I’m from a school that embraces
creativity and compassion, like the Tootsie Roll
center of a Tootsie Roll Pop.
“Can we make crafts to raise money
for Hurricane Florence victims?”
my fifth graders inquired the other day.
I’m from a school that challenges students
to think for themselves and be who they are.
I’m from a school where students thrive
and aren’t afraid to take risks.
“We should make a class newscast
like the video we just watched,”
A student suggested a few weeks ago.
This past Tuesday, the entire school viewed
that video my students made,
with awe and respect.
I’m from a school filled with kindness
and smiles, as if every moment is special.
I’m from a school where different is the new normal
and students never want to leave.
“He wished he could go to school
on the weekends,” a parent of one of
my students recently shared with me.
I’m from a school that seems almost
magical, like Narnia or Fablehaven.
I’m still waiting for the students to
show their wings and fly off towards
I’m from a school that is now a part me.
Just the other day,
I noticed that my blood appeared
maroon and gold. This wonderful
place is changing me,
and I could not be happier.
With so many amazing things that happened in my classroom this week, it’s hard to pick just one to focus on for this entry. So, instead of spending hours trying to determine which event to explore in detail, I’ll just list them all.
- After being unable to acquire the materials needed to care for a turtle in the classroom, I decided to find a class pet that would be a bit more student and budget friendly. While the students did vote on having a turtle as our class pet during the first week of school, I had to share the unfortunate news with them a week later, that we would be unable to make that dream come to fruition. However, prior to sharing this news with the students, I applied for and received a grant for a hamster from the Pets in the Classroom Program. Thank you Pet Smart and the wonderful folks at this amazing program that helps teachers find the resources to bring pets into their classrooms. When I broke the news about the turtle to the students, I also had happy news to share with them. I was surprised how excited they were about this change from the intended plan. They seemed more enthusiastic about a hamster than they did the turtle they originally chose as the class pet. This past week, the hamster joined our classroom family. The students could not have been more thrilled. They wanted to hold him, feed him, care for him, and play with him. It was amazing, watching the students interact with the hamster, which they decided to name Beans. While I still have no idea what the name has to do with hamsters, the majority of the students voted on that as his name. If they are happy, than I am happy. Frankly though, I really wanted Mr. Fancy Pants. Oh well. As the Rolling Stones reminded us all of years ago, “You can’t always get what you want.” Regardless, Beans has brought much happiness and excitement into the classroom. Fortunately, he is very sociable with us humans and doesn’t mind being held. This new addition to our classroom is so much more than a real-world learning experience. Beans is teaching the students to be mindful of how loudly they talk when they are near his cage and the importance of being careful when interacting with living things. Talk about teachable moments. Thank you Beans, for all that you have brought to our wonderful class.
- Prior to Hurricane Florence making landfall in the US not too long ago, I pitched an idea to the students. “I feel like we should do something to help those being impacted by this storm. What can we do to support those communities?” The students were full of wonderful ideas. While nothing has completely taken off yet, they have begun to take an interest in helping others. One student brought in a jar that we are using to collect money, while another student is gathering cans to redeem for money. Another student brought in materials to make handcrafts, that we intend to sell for charity. During a Science work period last Wednesday, those students who had finished conducting their investigations, worked with a student who taught them how to knit. It was very cool to watch them all practice this difficult skill. One student was all smiles as he began to figure out how to knit. While I posed the original challenge to the students, I am allowing them to own the outcome. I want them to learn responsibility, compassion, and dedication. I want them to see that helping others can be rewarding in so many ways. I can’t wait to see what my young philanthropists come up with in the coming weeks.
- For our final science assessment, the students have to generate a unique investigation that allows them to test an original solution to a problem impacting our school community. They will then conduct the experiment and document their findings in the form of a lab report and digital presentation. While this seemed like a daunting task at first, the students grabbed the bull by the horns, or to use our mascot in the metaphor, they grabbed the beaver by his tail, and ran with it. One student is trying to find an easy way to reduce the amount of water used by flushing toilets. So, she put a brick in each of the toilet tanks in our school. Some of the older students at the school were mystified by what she was doing. I love it. It’s getting others thinking. Isn’t that what science is all about? Another student is trying to find a way to cut down on mud flows and erosion near the school’s parking lot. He’s in the process of planting some flora samples now. Another student is trying out an environmentally friendly way to reduce the amount of poison ivy that lines the nearby forested areas. Other students are trying to find ways to reduce the school’s use of electricity. It’s so cool watching them work and gather data. They are thinking and acting like scientists. Amazing!
And that was just the highlights from this past week. I don’t have nearly enough time to document and reflect on every little amazing thing that happened in the fifth grade last week. Let’s just say, my words could never do justice to the magic that happens in the fifth grade at my school on a weekly basis. Awesome really only covers the tip of the iceberg. So yeah, I’m a very lucky educator who is able to work at such a special school with wonderful students and teachers. Every day truly is the best day of my life, as each new day provides me with a new present.