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Fourth Year in Review

Tabitha Helms

This was my fourth year of teaching, but was perhaps almost as difficult as my first year of teaching. After only teaching kindergarten, I got moved to first grade since there wasn't enough students to fill two kindergarten classes. Besides the crazy journey of trying to learn how to teach a new grade and not be overrun by an increased pile of grading in addition to all the normal tasks like discipline problems, parent freak-outs, and accreditation tasks, I had also added the huge, new life change of being a wife. Trying to figure out how to balance a full time job and complete the tasks I needed/wanted to do at home, made this year match my first year of teaching (when I met my husband and started dating him!). I was happy to finally settle into things about halfway through the year and be able to balance both more effectively. 

I loved my new first grade colleague, and couldn't have made it through the year without her. She was an endless supply of activities, teaching tips, and advice when I didn't know how to handle something. Amidst all the busyness of trying to learn how to teach a new grade, I was so grateful for her help.

Every year, I compile a blog post of the funny, cute, and crazy things my students say. It's a great chance to refresh the year and remember it with fondness rather than sink into the overwhelming feeling of how busy and hard it was. My coworkers eagerly await this post every year, because I bring it to read to them at our final staff lunch when the school year ends. They love to hear the things I write down throughout the year that I hear my students say. We all get a good laugh, or "awwww," or "wow!" out of them.

Funny Things Students Say

Here they are for you to enjoy:

While doing reading groups, a student pointed to a lowercase d asking if it was b or d. This was a student who always wrote those letters as capitals no matter where the were in the word or sentence, and drove me mad by doing so! He said he could never remember which was which so he always just wrote them as uppercase letters. I had never heard such logic before. So interesting how little brains work!

Today I was adding papers to my students' end of the year binders that have a collection of their work. I was smiling at one in particular who could barely write a complete sentence the first week of school. Today, he came and told me he was done with his paragraph and after seeing it had the four complete sentences like I asked, I told him he did such a good job and I was so proud of him. You should have seen his face. A look of jubilee burst from his smiling little face as he asked, "You are?! You're proud of me?!" Tears sprang to my eyes as I shared with him about how I looked through his old work and how much better he is now. He was such a happy camper the rest of the afternoon. I love finding the key phrases that mean the most to my kiddos. Their world lights up, as does mine.

Me: "You're a smart boy."
Student: "I know; I know everything." lol

Student: "First of all, I like your magnet on your desk. Second of all, I lost my crayon that I was using." Can you tell we had been learning sequencing? Haha

First grade has turned me into a teacher that teaches math strategies to students and to their parents! Fun for me, but I don't think the parents are too happy about having to learn it, haha.

I forgot my driver's license in Reagan's pocket, so he volunteered to bring it to me on his lunch break. He hasn't gotten to read to my class yet this year since he's been extra busy with his promotion, so I asked him to stay and do so. When he arrived, I thanked him for taking the time to come by giving him a quick kiss. My students immediately started snickering.
"Mrs. Helms just kissed him!!"
"Yeah cuz he's her husband." 
"They love each other."
When he said good-bye and started walking off, a student shouted over to him, "Aren't you going to kiss her!?"
The class erupted into laughter. 
Oh kids.

Overtime I have a worksheet prompt like this: Highlight all the long U vowel words in the book. Next, find and write 6 long U words that you found, I get this response:
Student: "I don't think that there are 6." 
Why would the worksheet tell you to find that many if there weren't really that many? 

While playing Christmas music that had a very upbeat rhythm section, a student said, "This is called a remix," and proceeded to shuffle his feet around, knock his knees together, and make his arm like an Egyptian's.

Rainy Day Schedule today. The students were trying to bargain their way into having outside recess later. One said, "We can play old school handball in the wetness." Haha! Not sure what he thinks 'old school' means!

Today I looked down at my finger while lining the kids up for lunch and saw the sapphire from my engagement ring had fallen out. I was devastated. I told my students and asked them to pray for us to find it and keep their eyes open. They must have known how sad I was because the whole rest of the day I had students coming up to me giving me long hugs and saying they loved me and I was the best teacher in the universe. What little bucket-fillers I have in my class! A student from the other first grade class came up to me the next day and told me she had a jewel at home like the one I lost and wanted to give it to me. <3

Student: "I can fix a car engine. That's easy!"

At pick up, students staring and "whoa"-ing at a propellor plane in the sky. My first grade colleague and I overhear a student say, "That's called a heliplane."

Student: "Mrs. Helms, I wish that someday I could be a teacher with you!"

Student: "Mrs. Helms, I love being in your class. I love it because you're so funny, and I like it."

Student: "Mrs. Helms, this one time I went bullet hunting and I found a real bullet! I've never found one before. It was cool."

After returning from Christmas Break, my students didn't forget what I thought they would. They picked right back up where we left off in graphing and vowel teams. They just forgot that they know how to read.
Student: "What do I do?" 
Me: "What do the directions say?"
Student: "Color the nouns yellow and the verbs orange."
Me: "So that's what you do."
Student: "Oh."
Me: "Did you forget that you know how to read directions?!" 
Student giggles.
Me: "You're a smartie, you don't need me to read it to you! You already know how to read!"
Student laughing: "I forgot!"

After a discussion of the jobs the president has and doing a virtual field trip of the White House, I had the students write about what they would do if they were president. All of them did an excellent job and came up with great ideas! I was so proud of them. I was also giggling at some responses:

"If I were president, I would let no bunndee in the White House. I like the bowling room. I think that the site House cost 1000 and 99."

"If I were president, I waud go to the U.S.A. and eat food like brokle. I would go vote Obome in the withe house. I will visit amerce. I will go with Obeam is family. I think I will be a president."

Another day we were summarizing a story we read about an ant. I received this response: "The ant tried to find the digest peas of grass. The sky ceded geting toiler." Translation: "The ant tried to find the biggest piece of grass. The sky kept getting taller." I love their creative spellings!

Student 1: "Student 2, you used the pink highlighter AGAIN!"
Student 2: " Sorry," shrugs, "I like that one. Plus, it's new."
Student 1: "It IS?! Oh." 
Apparently, new things validate all decisions.

Me: "How are a half-hour pattern and an hour pattern different?"
Student 1: "Because they are numbers."
Student 2: "Because it's the answer."
I don't think they quite understood the lesson yet.

Parent asked me what I was doing for my birthday. I shared that I was going to see Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" at the Civic Theatre. Her theatre-loving daughter piped up, "Awwww, I wish I was going that you could see me." Apparently she should be the highlight of my day. ;) 

The students have had their own class blog this year. They've enjoyed it, and I'm proud of how well they've done answering my questions. It's cute to see them type their misspellings. 
Tell me a fact that you learned about animals from our research project.
Student: "Lions have very long talks and big mans."

Lost my voice during a math lesson after being sick all week. I started whispering the lesson, and it was so cute when they all started whispering right back!

After encountering a plethora of children with runny noses on Tuesday, I diffused some On Guard in my room to kill the germs. A student inhaled and exhaled deeply as she cleaned up from centers saying, "Ahhh, it smells enchanting!"

I chopped my hair off into a pixie cut just before school ended. Most of my little fan club adored it. However, one kindergartner made sure to tell me like it is: "I don't like that you cut your hair."

I was chatting with a parent at the Wave Waterpark and she said, "I have to share this conversation I just overheard from my group. They all calmed down from playing in the water and saw you walking by and Student 1 says, "Well, it took the whole year and Mrs. Helms is finally in a bathing suit." Student 2 & 3 said seriously without changing expression or moving, "Yup." They all kind of pause for a minute and then Student 1 says, "And I have to say, she's looking quite fabulous too." Student 2 & 3 without missing a beat said, "Yup." She and I were cracking up at how serious and matter-of-factly they had this discussion. 

What a year it's been! Love reflecting back and seeing the growth. Teaching is a joy in so many ways!