I've been thinking a lot about the students I have had over the years. My first group of first graders graduated this year. Or, at least I hope they have all graduated. I know it's very Pollyanna-y for me to think they all graduate and go on to college, but that is the hope I have for all my students. When they are with me, they are small 6 year olds with a lot of schooling ahead of them. I have one year to make a difference in their lives, teach them what they need to know to move on to the next grade and be sucessful.
Each year, I get the list of students who are supposed to be in my class. I say supposed to because most of the time, there are 2 or 3 who never show up to be in my class. I hope this happens everywhere, because sometimes I feel like it's just me. When the first day rolls around, I love seeing all the smiling faces, and the crying ones, and know that these are "my kids" for the next year. I have always called my students my kids, because that's what they are to me. I don't try to be their buddy, but I am also more than just their teacher who teaches reading, writing and math.
In my district, a few years ago they jumped on the "PLC" bandwagon - professional learning community. Just thinking those words made me barf a little. I personally believe it's a bunch of crap. That may just be me, cause I know a few people whe think it's great. From my experience, it isn't. In order to have a PLC that works, you have to have people who want to collaborate, share ideas and talk. In my grade level, that doesn't happen. We have teachers who won't even talk to each other personally, much less professionally. Doesn't make for a pleasant work environment, let me tell you! We have a teacher who has gotten all her ideas, blackline masters, etc. from another teacher (from like 20 years ago!) and doesn't feel like she wants to share any information or ideas. Doesn't make it easy to get new ideas and information. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
When my kids come into my class, they are my kids. I am responsible for their learning at school, and in most cases, their learning at home. And, it isn't just academic learning. We have to teach English, the rules, proper classroom behavior, eating behavior, etc. Most of the kids come in with very little knowledge of them, even after Kindergarten. The students have very little knowledge of responsibility or are even aware of what they have. They learn that in class, too. But, when it comes down to it, it's my name on their report card that says I was their teacher. My name that will follow them from year to year, showing what they learned, or didn't learn, while in my care. They are my students who I am responsible for. With the PLC, they would like us to think of all the students as "our students". That's hard when you don't know the students in the other classes or, even worse, when the other teachers refuse to let you even speal to their child (yes, that has happened with 2 of the teachers I am supposed to collaborate with!).
My students are my my students from the moment they enter my class in August until they leave. For some, it's in September when they move to a fancy new school. For others, it's October, or December when they go to Mexico for 6 months. For a few, it's when they begin with my in April after having been to 5 other schools and they are here for the time being. Whenever they come in, they are my kids. And for some, it goes on throughout the years. Not as much as I would like, but what can I do. I hope I make an impact on them while I have them and that they will think of me when they start to do something they thought they couldn't and now can.
As I sit at home during my vacation, listening to Dora in the background, I can only imagine what my students will be like in 7 weeks. My only hope is that they all show up the first day ready to learn. I don't mind if they aren't the highest in class, In fact, I prefer to work with the lower students who need the most help. They appreciate learning more than those who already know it. I don't mind if they don't speak English. They'll learn. I don't mind even if their behavior isn't the best. That is my least favorite thing to have to deal with, but we get there, sooner or later. I just hope that they come in ready and willing to learn.