Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Let the Fun Times Begin!

I have always disliked the first week of school, even though I was excited about school starting back. I’m not talking about the abundance of paperwork, learning new school procedures, assigned monitoring duties, getting textbooks, or organizing my classroom. I’m talking about the “Stepford Students.” Now, if you aren’t old enough to remember the movie “The Stepford Wives,” then let me tell you about the “Stepford Students.” These students are wearing their new clothes and tennis shoes, have brand new notebooks, pencils, book bags, and possibly hair styles. When these students arrive, they are usually on their best behavior, don’t have many friends, and may be a little timid about new changes happening in their lives. Most of these students are eager to follow my directions and try hard to follow every rule. Now maybe you are thinking this is an ideal situation but I don’t.

During that first week, I have so many “wants.” I want to see my real students. I want to know about their real personalities and what they think. I want to know about their lives, their background, and their motivations. I want to see how they react to situations and cope with the changes going on in their lives. I want to know what they can and can’t do and how they cope with frustration. I want them to believe that I can help them and I want them to believe in themselves too.

By the second week, I’m usually more comfortable because the “Stepford Students” are disappearing. My students are wearing clothes they are comfortable in and have started to make new friends. The students who will challenge me have shown their true colors and the meek mild mannered students may really be withdrawn and depressed. Finally, these students begin to feel more comfortable and start to test limits. They want to know the boundaries and how far they can go. They have to feel that they are in a safe environment before they can trust me to teach them. When the “Stepford Students” finally disappear totally, I can be a teacher and really do my job.

When I get to know my real students, I am able to laugh with them and learn with them. I can’t teach the “Stepford Students” effectively but I can teach the real students. These are the students who may grasp a concept today but tomorrow will act like they never saw it before. These are the students who have real life issues that get in the way of their learning. These are the students who make me recognize that everyone can’t learn the same way and at the same speed. These are the students who make me feel like I really make a difference.

So, when I make it through the second week, I usually can tell that my year will be successful. It will have the usual uphill struggles but the journey is usually exciting and well worth the work!

Original image: 'Join us' by: John Watson


Kevin Honeycutt said...

I love this comparison the Stepford Wives and I remember that movie well! It is true the transition you talk about and once the back-to-school sale veneer wears off, the real story begins. Very insightful post!

Kila said...

I agree, very insightful post. How wonderful for your students that you want to know the real them. (It would take me more than a week to loosen up.)