Friday, January 29, 2010

The Curiosity of the Fifth Grader

One of my student teaching rotations was in Fifth Grade. Before doing it, I thought that it would be fun to work with older kids. I'd done many observation hours in Middle School classrooms and I was excited to work with kids who could read novels and study Science and Social Studies in depth.

It turned out that I hated it. Whether it was because it was my second rotation and I was just over the whole student teaching thing, or the master teacher's tendency to yell, or the fact that the kids were all working two years below grade level, I don't know, but it was a bad experience.

I try to avoid this grade level when subbing, but when I haven't worked in several days, I feel the need to take whatever comes up. Yesterday, I took a Fifth Grade class. Surprisingly, they really weren't too bad. For the most part, they were cooperative. The three 5th classes all mixed for Math and ELA, and the Math group was a nightmare. I've never had a lesson fail so miserably, and it was due to three kids in particular. Happily, I only had those three for that hour.

But, overall, their inquisitiveness killed me!

Are you married?
Do you have kids?
Why aren't you married?
What grades have you taught?
What schools have you subbed at?
Why are you a substitute?
What is your favorite grade?
Do you speak Spanish?
Do you speak French?
Do you speak Chinese?
How old are you?

And my favorite:
My mom's hair is that color, too. Her's isn't real. Is yours real?


  1. Those questions are funny. They're being obnoxious and trying to keep from working at the same time!

    Fifth-graders are only slightly better than subbing for middle school, probably because they're as close to middle school in elementary school as you can get! I've subbed fifth-grade four times this month, and blogged about all of them in three different posts. One was a disaster!

  2. I sub, too. Sometimes the questions are intended to derail and sometimes they are genuine. Sometimes it's hard to tell the two apart until the presentation of the followup question... :-)

    I try to answer genuine questions if they are appropriate and can be used to make a point about the lesson-at-hand or if not answering it would cause more distraction. As with akido, sometimes off-task student interest can be redirected back where the teacher wants it to be. Not easy to do on-the-fly but it seems to be coming more naturally as I gain experience.

    I do gently sidestep questions about my religion (if any), political affiliation (if any) or specifics about where I live, what I drive, etc.

  3. I know how you feel about fifth graders. But I have found they are either hit or miss; all good or a nightmare! Ha. But like you, I feel the need to take whatever job is thrown at me.

    Because I'm only 22, I hate to tell the kids my age, but they always (all grade levels!) ask. And then continue to guess numbers until finally I tell them to get to work! I hate to hear their guesses--17? 18? I had fourth graders ask me if I was 13. Ahhh, gotta love them, I guess.

    And my favorite question: Are you a real teacher?

    :) Good luck!

  4. My favorite thing to do when kids ask my age (second grade and up, anyway) is to give them the year I was born and make them figure it out! Yay math!