As a first grade teacher I sometimes catch myself thinking out loud in front of my students. Sometimes it goes right over their heads and they don't catch on but other times they understand every bit of it. Especially my really bright students read into my comments and catch me off guard when they respond to my think out loud humor. Take today for example....
We were having a whole class math conversation and I wanted an answer to a question that I had posed. I picked on a quiet little girl who usually doesn't raise her hand but wanted her participation so I asked her what she thought the answer might be. Others around her were anxious to blurt out the answer and looked like they were about to pee their pants with their little fingers reaching for the ceiling. I could tell they were disapointed that I hadn't called on them for surely they knew the right answer.
Usually I can tell right away when a student has no idea what I am talking about or even the slightest idea to what the answer might be. But she had been paying attention the whole time and when I called on her name I could tell she was really thinking about the math in her head. As she was looking off into the distance deep in thought, others around her literally were about to burst their little mouths open with anticipation.
I put my hand up to the others to calm them down as I looked intently at my little friend. As I put my hand up I said...."Hold on, the wheels are turning I can see it. She's almost got it." Usually a 6yr. old doesn't understand phrases that are meant as an analogy and so often those comments go unnoticed or they look at me totally confused as If I just didn't make any sense whatsoever.
As soon as I said "The wheels are turning..." she lost her focus and instead gave me a blank stare. At this, one of my other students replied...."The wheels aren't turning anymore!" Sometimes it's hard to keep a straight face when the little ones catch on to me. I was sure to encourage my little friend though as I was proud of her for really thinking hard there for a while. That's the best part of my job if you ask me. When you get to see with your own eyes the learning going on in a child's mind. They may stumble and fall and not have all the right answers all the time but how else do you learn to ride a bike if it not for all the practice! When you get to see the light bulb go off in their sweet face I swear there is a facial expression for that! Every time I see it go off in their faces it just makes me want to give them a big ole' hug. And I give thanks that I am given the opportunity to make an imprint like that on their journey of learning.
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