Last year I was a 3rd grade teacher. This year I teach 5th. Last year I didn’t have to deal with silly notes being passed around among the students. This year I do.
Those little pieces of paper have covered everything from Hi! to Are you coming to my party? and down the line, asking Who do you like?, or commanding Don’t be friends with so and so. I would walk up behind the receiver and snatch the note from their small 5th grade hands and drop it onto my desk, where it sat, forgotten. In general, kids would either giggle or open their eyes wide, forming their mouths into an oval shape. And then the lesson would continue. As the days progressed, those ripped from the pages of their notebooks shreds of paper began to become more of an issue, which caused my attitude to change from such a cool and nice teacher to students being more secretive and less complimentary. Most of them began tossing me yikes! glances, hoping not to catch my eye for fear of getting in trouble.
My favorite note of the year, thus far, has been a quick drawing of me, looking mad, with the words stating Mean Teacher! But even better, they included Rudy in the drawing, also looking mad, calling him Mean Teacher’s Husband! As usual, I dropped it on my desk, but this time, with my back to the class of kids I smiled. Never before have I been called Mean! Never. I knew then that the environment in my 5th grade classroom differed greatly from the innocent charm I love you, Teacher! of 3rd graders.