I am teaching my fourth year of fourth grade this year. I am doing this in room four. All of this might be too much to take if I didn't also have a son who was also in the fourth grade. The numerology of it all just makes my new age heart swell. What does it all mean? I haven't the foggiest notion, but I do feel as though I have a solid understanding of the mind of your standard ten-year old boy or girl.
This is how it struck me: I was attending yet another Back To School Night, and I was sitting in my son's chair, listening intently to the glowing terms that his teacher used to describe her first month with this new class. We were invited to paw through our child's desk to see what sort of curriculum and surprises we might find. I found nothing out of the ordinary. There was the requisite pink math workbook, red math textbook, and purple reading anthology. There were crumpled tests and carefully folded sheets of notebook paper with barely recognizable marks on them. There were signs of writing growth, but in a hard to decipher scrawl that made the challenge of getting ideas on paper doubly intimidating. And there were pencils of every shape, size and condition - dozens of them.
These words brought me out of my reverie: "Parents don't want to hear this, but this is the year that your children will change. They become more independent, more social. They're starting to grow up." My son's teacher was exactly right. I have said the same thing to countless parents at conferences and our own Back To School Night. It occurred to me at that moment why it is that fourth graders never stop talking: There are just too many words in their heads, and some of them just have to leak out. It is a fourth grade teacher's challenge to get them to focus all of that verbal energy in a productive direction.
So I left a few notes in my son's desk - just to let him know that I'm watching. And I like what I see.