Today served as a good reminder for me...a reminder that two grades is easy, three grades isn't so very bad, but four grades is miserable. Our Grade 2-3 teacher was unable to teach today and her students joined my class. This still kept me well under the provincial classroom cap, but felt like easily twice as many kids as there actually were! It was really nice, actually, to see how my students from last year had progressed. The kids were all (K-3 inclusive) remarkably well behaved, especially seeing as everything was different with the addition of the second class. However, I have come to the following conclusions:
1. The amount of energy required to keep on top of all potential behavioural conflicts in this group needed twice as much coffee as I'd had this morning.
2. If I ever have to run a big grade spread again, I will ensure that I spend the extra kazillion or so hours to match up all of the curriculum and units of study (as much as possible) so that I'm not having to teach four entirely different curricula to the four grades. Differentiated levels within the units, absolutely. That said, my provincial curriculum just doesn't lend well to blended classrooms of more than two grades (in specific combinations).
3. A ration of 3-1 in the boys-girls category is just not fun.
4. It is especially important for teachers of many grades to get a break at some point in the day...at least for five or six minutes! The more grades you have, the more crucial it is to use absolutely every minute productively.
5. Finally, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to really hammer in the importance of being able to sit still for increasing periods of time in order to do seatwork/read stories, from a very early age. It made all the difference in the world today that all of the students were capable of working mostly independently so that I could work with other grades. (Granted, I don't have a tendency to plan very much "sit still and work quietly" time through the day. It is important, but active learning is so much more effective.)
So, now that I have crashed on my couch for the rest of the evening, I'll leave you with one of my favourite Norah Jones songs!