I took off during our intersession*, something I rarely do. So, this week I've been readjusting to first grade. It's been a bit of a challenge because the kids are readjusting to 'regular' school at the same time.
Not being truly in the groove has allowed me to notice some things that might normally slip right past me. One is a pet peeve of mine. I'm bothered when teachers use the phrases, "I like" or "I love" to affirm for kids when they are doing something well. It suggests that the child should be listening, sitting still, working hard, whatever simply to make the teacher happy. I'd prefer that students are doing these things because they know it helps them and their classmates learn. I know this is a really difficult concept for first graders, but I don't think we do them any favors if we set up expectations that they are doing these things for us.
I'm also really beginning to realize how difficult it is for first graders to tell the difference between reality and what they wish were true. This first started becoming clear to me when we were teaching the kids about schema. We asked them about a time they had lost something important to them and how they felt. The discussion went quite well. Then we read Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems. It was amazing to me to see how many students then talked about a time they left their stuffed bunny at the laundromat. Today a child wrote a story about meeting Barack Obama and getting his autograph. (It's still unclear to us what really happened. He was in our general geographic vicinity yesterday.) After she read her story another student shared what had happened to her. She told the same story almost word for word. The kids are so genuine as they tell these tales that are so obviously untrue - at least obvious to the adults. It's really fascinating to me.
*My school is on a modified calendar. We start in late July and go through mid-June. We take 1-2 week breaks after each quarter, in October, January, and April. We offer students optional classes for a nominal fee during those periods, which I typically teach.