The transition from 3rd grade to 4th grade is actually a tough one, believe it or not. In 3rd grade, students still get babied by teachers, have bathrooms in their classrooms, and are young and sweet. Welcome to 4th grade and you're only one year away from being at the top of the school, you have a major growth spurt (often including puberty and all that fun stuff) and the teachers give you SOOOO much work (as per my students when I gave them THREE 8-problem worksheets for homework tonight!). Sometimes the transition goes smoothly (especially for the kids who grow 2 feet over the summer), and sometimes it's a little more rough. Take for instance, my student Ronnie (name changed for confidentiality... and his self-dignity).
According to his second and third grade teachers, Ronnie has come a far way in the 'growing up' arena. Unfortunately for the boy, he had a lonnnnng way to go! I knew he was going to be one of my little pet projects on day one when he started crying... I mean, tearing up... because he ran out of time to finish his "All About Me" poster before they called him for dismissal. I caught him on his way out the door and reminded him that "Now we're in 4th grade and crying is not acceptable. We use words to figure out our problems and things will get fixed much easier.
(Nods head with extreme tear-stained face.)
"You can finish that activity tomorrow."
"Ok." (stopped crying)
"Now, how easy was that?"
Day 2, no crying. Yes, we're making progress.
Day 3, messed up on coloring his map of Virginia and open the flood gates. "Ronnie, we talked about this. Crying won't solve the problem. Tell me what's wrong so we can fix it."
"I'm not crying. I have a medical condition. This just happens when I get upset."
"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Right." (That may or may not be a paraphrase.)
Day 4-7, no crying.
Day 8, Palmer Pride Night (see previous post for details). Mom shows up and asks how he's doing. I gave the usual "He's great. Trying really hard. Pleasure to have in class" schpiel. The conversation continues and we finally get to the point where she says, "Ok, how's he really doing?" I slyly mention the fact that he has an issue with crying and mom acknowledges it and says they're working on it at home, too! At this point, Ronnie pipes up and claims, "MOM! It's a medical condition, remember? I told you about this! It's not crying! It's just that when something is too frustrating my tear-sacs break and the water comes out of my eyes!!"
Mom: "Oh, right. That's not a medical condition. That's called crying."
At least I can count on his mom for some sort of sanity this year! :)