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The first day of school for teachers—today school began for LAUSD

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I never slept the night before the first day of school. I taught third grade and did the same thing every year on the first day. I knew most of the students coming into my classroom, yet I never slept.

I was going on adrenalin.

The school allowed parents to accompany their children into the classroom on the first day. They listened to my brief orientation talk to the students and appreciated it when I told them to say “May I please?” which asks for permission rather than “Can I?” which asks whether they can physically do something.

I always told new teachers to bring water and cough drops to school the first week as I always went home with a tired voice.

I had a BA, a lifetime credential, years of experience in third grade and I still did not sleep.

Public education was real, full, and well rounded then.

My 3rd grade classroom had:

Plants and an aquarium.

Fifteen computers (most of them old) for practice, challenge, and enrichment.

A stereo to expose the students to different music genres while they worked.

Dozens and dozens of learning centers for practice and enrichment.

A bulletin board where each student had a baby picture and a current picture with their displayed work.

Transparencies and charts to supplement the textbooks.

Five or six Math series to give the students enough practice to master their Math skills.

Arthmetwists, learning games, and manipulatives.

A mini trampoline for rainy day exercise.

A rug where the students read to each other and held discussions.

Former Reading series for supplementary work.

Art supplies for a wide variety of art projects.

Blank paper for Math and lined paper for everything else.

No photocopies.

Today in classrooms, other than a few computers and a rare aquarium, the only things left from above are learning games and manipulatives mostly in Kindergarten and first grade.

My students worked, prepared for the next grades and for life and learned while having fun in an environment for children and in lessons designed by me to fit their learning styles and my personality and we used pacing plans I devised over the years—no downtown bureaucrat, no text or test publisher told us what to do—we did everything to the benefit of my students!

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