A Poem About Me

The poem below was sent to me by a parent of a former student, found during a semi-regular clean-up.

It made me feel good, but it also shows how the test seemed to permeate everything.

This student, who is now on her way to middle school, is an incredible kid. In second grade she wrote this; she did this often, actually, as she put up with everyone around her who just weren't as bright. I think very bright kids like this one find ways to keep themselves busy and engaged in a classroom full of varying abilities.

One thing I made sure to do due for this poet -- a math whiz as well as poet -- was to have a few different choices of math homework for her, and her classmates, to choose from. I had a range of difficulty available, and allowed all my students to walk by the offerings and pick whichever one they wanted. I set it up by telling them there was no pressure to do any particular homework, but if they pick one that was a bit hard for them they would learn more--too hard though and they'll just get mad. I always had one homework sheet with simple addition and subtraction problems, but with multi-digit numbers; adding two 10-digit numbers makes the weaker mathematicians feel like they can do hard work, plus it helps them with place value, the typical sticking point for young kids struggling with simple addition and subtraction.

This allowed all the kids to take some ownership of their learning, and gave everyone the satisfaction of, usually, being able to complete the math homework on their own and therefore each kid knew what they could do and what they needed help on.  I always allowed the kids to look at each others homework and the answer sheet together if they chose. Kids that understand concepts laying on the rug with those that didn't all learning together, with no pressure, was a wonderful site. I could walk around and see everyone being both learner and teacher.

I do miss a classroom. I don't know if I could even do the things I used to do 3 short years ago, given how the reform movement has ruined teacher autonomy. I was corralled back then!

Remember, this poem was probably written in about 3 seconds, I assume. (I also assume Gravity was being explained because it came up in the story I was reading and someone asked a question about it. Knowing me, I stopped reading so we could discuss Gravity, as the gravity of the need to learn about gravity was gratuitous.)
My second grade teacher is funny.
Reading a book to us most afternoons.

Singing we are while he plays his guitar.
Understanding and being right most of the time.
Gravity -- explaining.
Everything on the test, mostly, is what he taught us.
Right! Very, very right!
Making us work very hard.
A very good teacher.
Nice and funny.
Three things I am proud of: she called me funny, she mentioned me playing guitar, and she seemed proud to work hard. I call that success.

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