- Enhanced social-emotional development. My students know each other very well and are comfortable sharing information with me and with their peers. Even students who were very shy last year are starting to come out of their shells.
- Students already know what I expect. I mostly had to review my expectations in the classroom so that they could be reminded of what I am looking for.
- I know where the students are academically. I know their strengths and I know their weaknesses (which will soon turn to strengths!).
Aaaaand now for the cons.
- Enhanced social-emotional development. As I said, my students know each other very well. They are so comfortable with one another that they often get too silly or out of control. Their personalities are enhanced times two, which makes it a management issue all day long.
- Students already know what I expect. Because the students are so comfortable with me and with what I expect, I have noticed that I have "mommy syndrome." The students are starting to tune out when I speak, often continuing their own conversations rather than listening to what I have to say. There are constant interruptions and distractions during lessons. My old tricks are not working as well as they used to.
- I know where the students are academically. I know their strengths (and there are many). Unfortunately, I am not very familiar with the first grade curriculum and don't have a lot of additional work to choose from to challenge the students who need it. I feel so stunted with what I can do with my students. It's almost like I don't know how to challenge my students because I am out of ideas.
You will notice that the pros and cons are very similar. I think the biggest challenge for me is managing these students. I feel awful because I can see how bored they are with what we are doing. All of this beginning of first grade curriculum is too easy for the vast majority of them, but I run out of time to come up with better plans. I know that "looping" with students is supposed to benefit them socially and academically, but I feel more like I am preventing them from becoming their best selves.
At this point (it has only been a few weeks), I already feel like I am not doing the right things for my students. I want them to have a sense of teamwork and cooperation because I know that it is going to be hard for them to continue as a close-knit group since they will eventually begin to squabble like siblings. I want them to feel challenged and excited to come to school. I don't want to have as much control over them as I do right now. I want them to think critically, to trust themselves, and to solve problems on their own. I don't want to be so frustrated. I don't want to be constantly interrupted. I just want my students to trust that I will lead them down the right learning path and, more importantly, I want to trust that I can be the leader they need me to be. I know I am not perfect. I know they are not perfect. I just want to be the best teacher I can be for these kids and right now, I don't know if I am.