Dating can be a lot of work! We want to find out all about the person, find out what makes them tick, what they want in life, find out if we're compatible in the ways that are important to us.... When you first start dating someone, it takes a while to get to know him or her and even longer to start catching glimpses of their heart. For those of us who have been lucky enough to fall in love, those first glimmers of love probably resulted when the preciousness of the person we were dating first became apparent. And we cherished those beginning glimmers because they were signs of what we hoped might be a long-term relationship.
Isn't it much like this every time we start a new school year? In a sense, we do the same things with our students that we do when we first start dating someone. We observe behaviors, we talk, we ask questions, we search for shared connections, we watch for that elusive synergy that happens when we know them and they know us well enough and have built the beginnings of what we hope will be a classroom of students who can learn from us and learn from each other.
Every year I seem to get one class that takes a little longer to build that synergy with. This is usually the class that is filled with more behavior problems than most or filled with students who are suspicious of anything or anyone that comes along with the word "math". This year, for me, that period is my fifth period class. The class is large (35 students), is approximately 3/4 boys, and has more than its share of behavioral issues. We have practiced classroom procedures far more times than my other classes and I've had to use my classroom management skills with this class in a different way than my other classes. In short, they have been a lot of work!!!
But then it happened. Last Wednesday, I was out in the hall helping a student who couldn't open his locker. The bell rang, which meant that class was to begin. Normally, I'm in fifth period when the bell rings, reminding students to get their supplies out, reminding them to start the warm up, asking boys to stop playing with the air outlets..... On Wednesday, I walked into my room a couple of minutes after the bell rang expecting to find chaos. Instead, I saw 35 students sitting in their seats working on their warm up and happily SINGING along with Colin Dodd's "Powers" video. I stood at the door for a second listening to them sing "five times five times five times five is 625" and my heart melted; the preciousness of who they were overwhelmed me. And so the relationship begins...