I seriously cannot believe that it's the first day of August. At my school, teachers head back to work on the 26th. I always enjoy the beginning of the school year, but giving up my lazy summer days takes some adjusting. Every year, without fail, back-to-school nightmares start disrupting my sleep. All of these things serve to remind me that my summer is rapidly drawing to a close. :(
As many of you know, though, I have a big change coming this school year. I am moving from first grade to sixth!
I've had a lot of reactions from people about this. An overwhelming majority of people are excited for me and have offered their congratulations. I appreciate this because it was MY decision. I wasn't "asked" (aka "told') to move. I didn't have to do it. It was something I wanted to do. What I haven't appreciated are the few people who have said, "Are you crazy?", "Why are you punishing yourself?", "Of all the elementary grades, 6th is my least favorite.", and "Why would you want to do THAT?"
Fortunately, none of you were among those negative Nelly's, but with the school year approaching, I decided I would share why I am moving to 6th grade. But first, some background as to why I even considered it. I honestly never wanted to teach above third grade. Students after that develop real attitudes about school...and usually, they're not good attitudes. I had been working closely with a sixth grade teacher on our School Wide Positive Behavior team. One day, during a meeting, he mentioned that the sixth grade was going to need a fourth teacher for the upcoming school year. Knowing how I felt about the older grades, he jested, "Wanna come teach 6th grade?" "Uhh...no," was my sarcastic reply.
I call those my famous last words.
After that conversation, I couldn't stop thinking about moving out of first and up to sixth.
In no particular order, my reasons are listed below:
- I spent 6 years of my seven-year teaching career in first grade. I really just felt the need for a change.
- If I moved, I would be teaching reading. This is a subject I am highly comfortable with. Not only do I love reading, but my background of teaching primary reading will be very helpful with sixth grade students who are still struggling. I will be able to take them back to the basics, if necessary.
- I taught this group of students when they were in first grade five years ago. That's a good AND bad thing. BUT I like that I can see and interact with past students again. One of my favorite things about teaching is watching my students grow up and seeing what kind of people they become.
- Independence. Sixth graders are not needy. They can do so much more on their own without repeated explicit instruction.
- Projects. Because of their independence, they can do much more interesting things to demonstrate their knowledge.
- I am sick and tired of the reading stories in first grade. We use a wonderful curriculum in first grade (Story Town by Harcourt). When we got the reading series during my second year of teaching first grade, I was thrilled. My first year was chaos. I had no idea what I was doing. I finally had a guide. But after five years of some of the most boring and/or stupid stories ever, I decided that if I had to hear "Little Rabbit's Tale" (to name just one) one more time, I was going to rip off my ears.
- I am done with the negativity. Not that everyone is happy and positive all the time. I know I'm not, but two of the teachers with whom I've worked for a long time have just brought me down. Every change, certain students, anything that they don't like becomes a HUGE issue. I've essentially been doing things the way I want anyway because I just don't care what they say. I need to be somewhere where each thing we're asked to do is not the end of the world.
- I only need to write lesson plans for 4 reading classes (which can essentially be the same) and one math class.
- Students can actually help you...effectively. I could only rely on the best and brightest of my first graders sometimes to help me with certain tasks. Sixth graders are a bit more reliable.
- Change is good, y'all! Especially when it's change that you've initiated. Am I nervous? Yes. Do I feel like I have no clue what I'm doing? Absolutely. Am I overwhelmed right now? Sure. But I'm so excited.