Every so often I’m lucky to be at my table in my shared room when a group of kids comes in for math club.
Today was a lucky day. First graders filtered in, their intervention teacher, Mrs. P was just a few steps behind them. So I got a front-row seat to their entrance shenanigans.
Lisa and Sam* came in first. They acknowledged me with a slight nod of their heads. I said hello and watched them choose a seat at the kidney table.
Sam jumped up and said, “Oh! I forgot to hide!” and he went to the calm corner, behind a curtain. Lisa stayed at the table and kept looking back at me as Sam talked about how he was hidden.
“Are you supposed to hide at the beginning of math club?” I asked them, honestly curious.
Lisa said, “Um. I forget.”
I laughed a little and said, “You forget if you are supposed to hide at the start of math club?”
Lisa smiled and mumbled something, adding “But if Sam wants to, it is his choice.”
Pete and Anya walked in and Lisa let them know that Sam was hiding in case they were interested in doing the same. Pete and Anya went to hide in the calm corner, but Pete came back to the table quickly.
I asked them again what they were supposed to do while they were waiting for Mrs. P. I mean, I wasn’t actually sure. Maybe they always start math club on the rug, or in a choice spot, or by calming down!
Mrs. P walked in and said “Okay, friends. We are going to play a game today.” I saw her eyes scan the room. “Remember, hiding is not appropriate.
At this, Lisa looked back at me, eyebrows up, caught in her little white lie about forgetting if they were supposed to hide. She looked at Mrs. P and said “I chose the table because I didn’t think we were supposed to hide. but I told sam it was up to him what he did.”
Mrs. P agreed that we are all in charge of our own selves, adding that you can give friendly reminders sometimes.
Pete said, “I wanted to hide, but I knew I shouldn’t.”
Anya said, “I know we aren’t supposed to hide, but it looked so fun!”
As you can tell, it’s super hard for me not to listen in to first graders. Mrs. P took a teachable moment to talk about impulse control, and soon enough they were on to the math. If you were there you would have heard many a conjecture about the making of tens, and Sam’s Ted Talk on zero, which started with a proclamation, “Zero means nothing! Nothing!”
Oh, how I love listening in to first graders.
*I have changed all student names here, of course. This was actually challenging and made me think of how my amazing para when I taught 2nd grade would read the class books at lunch, and change all the characters’ names to names of kids in our class. How she kept track of that is a mystery to me. I had a hard time just keeping track of these 4 first graders’ code names!