Just last week, I received my roster. As I do each and every year, I look over each name and try to decide which ones I know, and what the dynamic of the class might be like. I look at how many children I have, try to figure out where I'm going to put them all, and decide how I want to arrange the classroom. And I automatically have a little pang of nostalgia for last year's class. Because at this time last year, they were all names on a list too. By the end of the year, however, they felt like family. I think about them and wish them the best in their new classrooms, and I miss them. Each child I have taught becomes a part of my life for a duration and a part of my heart. I want to see them all succeed, but mainly I want them to know that I care, not only while I have them, but for always.
The names on my list represent a myriad of potential. As I scan the list in August, I see names and ID numbers and birthdates. By the end of the year, I will see loose teeth, funny stories, character, and growth. Each name will take on new meaning. Most will make amazing progress. All will grow and mature. A few will make me want to pull my hair out. (Those are usually the ones who come back to visit years later:) Sometimes I will have an off day. Sometimes it will happen to them too. It happens to the best of us.
If you are a parent reading this, I want you to know that I will care for your child. It might take us a few weeks to learn each other and to establish a rapport. There might be tears in the beginning, and that is common for a few. First grade is a big jump from kindergarten. There is more responsibility and more independence. What your child will learn about me, is that I am on their side. We will spend our days together in close quarters, doing LOTS of reading, small groups, math, science experiments, culture days, outdoor science, readers' theater, social studies, snack, assessments and more assessments, and then more assessments still... writing, and we will all WORK but with some play each day too. Some days will be fun and some days won't be, but through it all, I want them to know that I care about them. Not just about performance on assessments, but about them as individuals. They will learn to be on a team, and to encourage one another. They don't enter first grade on the same level, and they don't leave on the same level. It is my job and theirs to see to it that they grow as much as possible, without comparing themselves to others. Mistakes are a part of growth, and we will all make them. I want our classroom to be a safe place to try and where we can all be supportive of one another.
I look forward to meeting each child. If last year was a struggle, this one is a chance to start over. Each name on my list is a person whom I will both cherish and hopefully challenge. As I scan the names, as I write them on desk tags and cubbies and charts, my hope is that each one will be a successful learner and will be part of a learning environment that supports growth of character, independence, responsibility, and inspiration.