Sunday, October 07, 2012

Seeing All the Trees in the Forest

Our fabulous counselor came by the other morning to ask for names of students for various small groups she will support. As I talked to her about my students and their needs I was struck by how different my focus is this year from years past.

That change in focus does not have to do with any change in me.

I have a truly delightful bunch of students this year. They are not all sit-on-the-carpet-silently and follow-every-direction-to-the-letter kind of kids but they are fabulous. They are interested in learning and being in school. They like each other and treat each other well the majority of the time. They are thoughtful and kind and happy. Just delightful.

I do not have anyone who has significant behavior problems. I have a few who are stubborn and willful. I have at least one who has trouble following directions and listening and sitting still and keeping hands to oneself. But nothing major.

This is my fifth year in first grade and it is the first time I can say that.

In years past conversations with our counselors focused on those children with significant issues. They were the ones in groups or meeting one-on-one with a counselor. In comparison the other kiddos seemed to be doing just fine.

This year I am free to think about those others. I can identify ones who would benefit from a group about school readiness. I can think of those who could use a friendship group. I can name little friends who need help advocating for themselves.

With significant behavior issues these smaller things got lost in the wash. Even if I recognized them, which I don't think I always did, I didn't have the time or energy to seriously address them.

That said, I still want those children with significant behavior issues in my classroom. They are young and benefit greatly from being with their peers and learning from them, both academically and about appropriate choices. In the future (which could be next week given the mobility at our school) I need to figure out how to not get so caught up in one or two students that I am not giving the others what they need and what they deserve.

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