I substitute taught 3rd and 4th grade earlier this week. I’ll just say it up front….I had a “Genius Moment”. The term was coined during “The Piano Years” (more about The Piano Years in future posts). The kids’ piano teacher was and is a Master at what she does. Every week I would be amazed at how she was able to connect with the children, and inspire them to learn music. She would do simple things, stuff I can’t even describe here because it was only in the moment that the brilliance could be appreciated, and I would sit there with my jaw on the ground, witnessing her ability with the students. I was inspired. They were inspired. I looked for Genius Moments each week and let her know every time I saw one!
There is nobody to tell me about my own Genius Moments, so I will have to recognize them, and point them out myself. Call me arrogant. Call me stuck on myself. I disagree. I believe its high time that people learn to look at themselves, and appreciate what they see. Too much of the time, especially for women, we’re wishing we had what we perceive others have, and our own self talk is negative. I won’t go down that path. I refuse to speak poorly about myself. I love teaching and I’m good at it. I think it’s ok to recognize our own strengths.
Now back to my Genius Moment. It was during Reading class. In the lesson plan, I was to teach the kids about Exclamatory and Command sentences. The task seemed simple enough, and once I found the sample sentences, I plunged into the instruction. The class was made up of 4 boys, one 3rd grader, and three 4th graders. They were full of wiggles and I knew sentence types would probably not hold their attention for very long.
I first talked about the different types of punctuation that can be found at the end of a sentence. Then I gave some examples of exclamatory sentences, and went over what a command sentence looks like, and discussed that “you” is usually not actually said, but it’s understood. It was clear this info was not new to them, so I had them give me some oral examples of exclamatory and command sentences. We went around the circle of boys a few times, and each of them gave me a sample sentence of each type.
THEN the fun began. As I looked at those fidgeting boys, I had a brilliant idea! There were 8 sentences in the book that I was to read to them. There were four examples each of exclamatory and command sentences. I told the boys I would read them a sentence, and then they had to put the proper punctuation at the end by forming it with their BODIES! If the sentence needed an exclamation point, they were to jump out of their seats and make their bodies straight and tall, arms over their head, like an exclamation point. If it was a command sentence, they were to jump out of their chairs, crouch down on the floor, and squeeze themselves into a small ball, forming a period.
I had their full attention and they all were eager for me to read the first sentence. “Go make your bed”, was the first sentence, and they were all immediately little round peas on the floor. “Today is my birthday!”, was the next one, and the boys were sprung out of their seats and straight and tall like a nutcracker man at Christmastime. Two more sentences were read and the boys responded immediately with the proper body position, punctuating the sentences, all the while having huge smiles on their faces! I called on an individual boy and let him do the next sentence, then another boy for the next, and so on. The activity prepared them beautifully for the next step in the lesson.
They were to each write on their papers, 2 exclamatory sentences, and 2 command sentences, with the proper punctuation at the end of each one. After the lively lesson, all 4 boys settled in and began writing their sentences. The room was perfectly still and pencils were busy. I sat there smiling, knowing I had accomplished above and beyond what any teacher would have expected a substitute teacher to do. The ideas all came to me spontaneously, and I went away from the experience satisfied and happy. During the activity, the main teacher in the school had come into the classroom to get something, and we were all so engaged, I barely noticed he had been there. I can only hope he was impressed with the engaging and creative lesson I was doing with the boys.
Teaching seems to make me thrive with energy and I was disappointed when they let me know they wouldn’t need me the next day. I can only wonder if I would feel this joy every day, if I was a full-time teacher. I hope one day I will be able to find out:)
These are not the 3rd & 4th grade boys from my story. But they are my Computer Boy (left) and his 2 best friends from school. There are so many reasons this has been a super school year! The fact that I get to teach, and that my kids all love school, are just 2 of the many reasons!
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