During the time that I have had a student teacher the office has come to me a couple of times asking me to substitute different grades last minute because they couldn't find a substitute. At first I was hesitant to do this because I thought, "Substitute? No way! Kids are awful for substitutes." But I actually have found myself enjoying each class I went to and I have drawn some conclusions.
The first class I went to was a 5th grade class. This one scared me the most because I thought I'd had no experience with this age. The kids that I taught my first year are in 4th grade now and so I didn't even have that to comfort me. But let me tell you what... first of all, it totally depends on the management of the substitute because each class I've gone to has been great. But 5th graders are SO independent! Holy cow! They could sit there for 30 minutes totally self sustained. I didn't know what to do with myself. It was a whole new world that completely doesn't exist in the 5 minute attention span of the 6 year old.
Next I went to 3rd. Again, able to work on a task for longer than 7 minutes. These kids had manners. They knew how to write, read, and they weren't picking their noses.
Then today I substitute taught in 2nd grade. It actually wasn't much different than first. Still pretty busy, but they stayed on task much better than my sweet little 'busy bodies.' Plus I noticed the kids that I had known from last year, whether in my class or not, seemed so much more calm and not nearly as hard.
So I decided to write about my discovery. I think first grade teachers not only teach their students how to read and write. But we also teach them how to be 'human' in school/socially. I have followed my hardest students over the years and asked their teachers how they are doing and the responses I get amaze me. Of course they are still the 'hard student' but when I ask about certain behaviors that I had problems with and if they still exist the answer is mostly no.
Obviously a child at 6 years old is going to act differently than a 10 year old but for some reason I had never thought about this before. But first graders are SO sweet and will love you no matter what. Their innocence and excitement for life is refreshing as well. But it's just hard work. Don't get me wrong. I love my job and I love these little guys.
I am hoping not to work when I have the baby. Depending on Mason's recent applications we will see if that can happen or not. But when I return to teaching after my kids are in school, I'm thinking of trying 3rd. Although who knows... maybe by that time I will miss all the runny noses and cute little pictures that I always post about.