One of the benefits of my job is that, because I don’t really have a set schedule yet (more on that later) I have gotten a chance to get to know a good majority of the kids at J.A. Rogers. Somehow, I’ve managed to build pretty strong relationships with students in all grade levels. They step out of line (and get yelled at) to hug me, talk to me, say hi, or tell me about their day. There is one kindergartener in particular who always tells me he had a good day and didn’t get in trouble, but this is almost never true. I’m formed a pretty good relationship with his older sister, a 4th grader, and we’ve talked about ways to keep her brother off the fence at recess and out of the pre-k classroom, which is where his teacher sends him when he gets his third strike.
Most of these kids come from very sad homes…a surprisingly large number of them have a family member in jail. A second grade girl has had her electricity shut off for over a week because her family cannot pay the bill. Kids come to school in the same clothes day after day. I witnessed two boys get in a fist fight over an extra fruit cup at lunch. It saddens me to know that the breakfast and lunch that is provided for the students at school might be the only meals they get. Kids stuff their backpacks with leftovers in the morning, and I always see students sneaking bites of food in the parent pick-up line after school.
One thing I’ve come to realize is that these kids need love. Children I hardly know are lining up to hug me after recess. They crave attention and will do anything to have a teacher come and sit with them in the morning before school. I’ve taken to spending the first 15 minutes of my day singing songs with the kindergarten classes while they wait to be escorted upstairs to their classrooms. This week’s favorite is Wheels on the Bus. I guess I’m lucky that I have all this time to spend with the kids, and it’s nice to know they appreciate me. On Tuesday a little boy gave me a bouquet of dandelions and he asked me about them today. I’ve been at Rogers for 6 weeks and I’ve already grown to love these kids.
Now about my schedule…the classes that I push into are changing things again. I’m frustrated, but hopeful that everything will work out soon.