Happy Teacher Tuesday! Here's the tale of the best class I ever had:
My very first year as a teacher, while I was planning a wedding, too, I was assigned the class from hell. (Unfortunately in education, it's all to common to give new teachers the worst possible assignments. Think "trial by fire".)
There were 47 kids, and when I pulled their files, I discovered that they were a combination of gifted kids and special ed kids with almost no one inbetween the two extremes. Yikes!
So I tried everything my limited experience could come up with: high-low grouping, ability groups, you name it. And eventually what worked was to give the gifted kids open ended projects to work on in the back of the room and brought the rest up to the front to work with me. Some of them were reading at a second grade level in seventh grade and the textbook was beyond them. So I made copies out of the book and highlighted the most important stuff that we would work through together. And it just clicked. They became the kindest, most cooperative, sympathetic, and tolerant bunch I've ever had, even writing each other into stories for assignments.
It's the only group that I've ever gotten so attached to that I teared up on the last day of school. I was thanking them for being my students and teaching me so much, and my voice caught and I kind of sniffled, and the whole class started bawling. We even had a big, sappy, sobbing group hug in the middle of the room.
I actually got a letter from one of them a whole back. He is now a student at Brown!