Having Fun With Grade One. Mostly.

I subbed for the grade 1s this morning and I know they appreciated my efforts to be fun and keep them engaged, but it’s a challenge to keep patience when the same 3-4 students keep yelling out despite asking repeatedly & politely for them to raise their hands. I tried using positive reinforcement by always exclaiming how much I appreciated the hands up when other students were doing it, but the same handful of students just keep calling out, despite extremely clear instructions beforehand along the lines of “I’m going to give you 10 seconds to think of an answer, and when you think you have it, raise your hand and wait for me to call on you.” The next second there would be 1-2 students saying “FOUR!” and another student saying “MR. HOLDEN CAN I DRAW?” and another student saying “HAS IT BEEN TEN SECONDS YET?”

I know some of the other teachers were saying they could tell all the students were a bit derailed today, but I’d love to be able to not have that energy affect our class. I know I’m using some reasonable language and tools to keep everyone engaged, but despite some solid effort to keep things smooth, it started giving me a mild headache about 2 hours in. I had most of the class completely engaged and we were extremely productive for most of the morning – but the students who couldn’t and wouldn’t listen to me just would not respond to several different tactics. The only tactic I didn’t use was punishment and I wanted to avoid that but maybe I should’ve. I have some questions to ask the first grade teachers about keep things smooth.

An example of how good and fun but also how frantic the energy was was when the students were counting together in French and at the number 70 I stopped the students and said “Stop everything! I heard Grade ones were smart and I can’t believe you guys made it all the way to 70, but there’s NO WAY you guys can count to 80. That’s WAY beyond what first graders can do!” And they all responded “Oui!! We can count to 80!” So they counted from 70 to 80 and when they were about to go higher I said “Stop everything! There’s no way you guys can count to 90 though… counting from 80-90 in French is pretty much impossible for first graders! You can do THAT can you??” And they all responded “Oui!!” and continued… my point is I added an element of fun and surprise and gave the students a chance to show me what they’ve learned in an exciting/dramatic way – and even still there were 2 kids in the back yelling “WE CAN COUNT BY 2s and 5s!” and “CAN I COLOUR??” while everyone else was counting together. It just felt that most of the class was buying in and happy to be part of the activity, and 2 students, all morning, at any given momen, were complaining or just blurting stuff.

Despite all that – I think the students actually enjoyed the morning. I know I also praised each student at least once and I think each student felt liked/appreciated – so their takeaway from today is much different from mine.


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