Adjusting to Fourth Grade

Well, my wife has spent more than a week as a fourth grade teacher and is starting to get settled in. After five years as a second grade teacher, the jump in grade level has provided a change of pace for Sidney. Through our conversations at the dinner table, three themes seem to stand out about her new assignment.

Sidney started as a fourth grade teacher last week. This is her today in her new “flair” shirt (you have to be a teacher to get the reference).

Dang, these kids are smart – You might be thinking duh, right? But it doesn’t just revolve around their ability to understand multiplication tables. Sure, the intellectual capacity of fourth graders is greater, but they are smarter in other ways as well. Their understanding of cultural customs and differences is superior to what it was as second graders. They also understand social principles and problem solving strategies better. The gap in overall intelligence between Mrs. Reser and her new class has closed a bit.

Same dog, same tricks – In Sidney’s class there are several students she taught in second grade. When asked how it is to re-teach these children, she famously says “I like it but I don’t like it.” These students know Sid’s style and have quickly adjusted their expectations and tendencies to conform to it. On the other side of the coin, they also know her “tricks” and aren’t as susceptible to her ploys of harmless manipulation. But make no mistake, the familiarity is more of an asset than a headache.

Starting Over – Sidney didn’t just move to a different classroom. Besides her new digs, she also has a new curriculum and a new team of teachers. She can’t rollover past lesson plans from the last half decade as fourth graders learn entirely different material than second graders. As you can imagine, developing new lessons takes time and creativity. She is also interacting daily with a different teacher team. In the second grade, Sid had the blessing of learning and working with veteran teachers who had decades of experience under their belts. She is now with a fourth grade team comprised of teachers more her age and on par with her experience level. The situation has its advantages and disadvantages but the one major reality is that becoming a well-oiled fourth grade machine will take time as Sid and her co-workers learn to work and plan together. So far, it is going great!

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I am proud of Sid for answering the call of her principal and teaching fourth grade. Change can be hard, but my wife is talented at making the most of it. Don’t Blink.