5 Takeaways from 2 weeks in a 4th grade classroom full time:

1. It’s hard not to develop favorites. And it takes effort to not play favorites. I could tell you names of several current 4th graders I know that I want to see do big things in their lives. I do my best to treat all the kids equally and teach them equitably, but these kids shine above.

2. Rules and procedures need to be practiced daily. Daily. Even in 4th grade. Saying, “time to line up,” can have the same effect as lighting a short, quick fuse. When procedures are practiced daily, the explosion doesn’t happen.

3. Psychopathic behavior comes out early. The “mean girl,” in class is showing signs. She is also a “daddy’s little princess,” which doesn’t help. The team teacher - a 30+ year veteran of Camden County NJ schools before “retiring,” to Charlotte - said “that little girl is the devil. I’m gonna have to have a talk with daddy.”

4. 26 kids is too many for one classroom. Ideally the 4th and 5th grades would get one more room and teacher each to bring the ratio to 20:1. Unfortunately, legislators are more concerned about reelection and low taxes than actually doing what is good and right for the community.

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5. Sometimes the disruptive kids, even as frustrating as they can be, are the most likable ones. One little girl in my class is always talking out of turn, making faces at people, whispering jokes, and being a total little shit. But she’s also smart, genuine, and funny. I think the fact that she’s so genuine is why she’s so likable.