MY FIRST TEACHING JOB was at Buckland-Shelburne Elementary. I had worked as a one-to-one aide there my first year out of college and was hired the following year to teach fourth grade. This was 20 years ago, and while I might not remember the names of all of the students in my first class I certainly remember faces and personalities.
The 1996-1997 school year was the year of the Caitlins. We had three in the class that year. We also had a class pet, a tiny green lizard, and wrote stories about what he might do at night after everyone went home.
That year we studied units about habitats and African-American history, and proudly displayed our projects when the newspaper came to take our picture.
My fourth-graders loved music — especially the B-52’s — and they loved football, playing marbles, and superheroes.
They also loved books. For our first class read-aloud I chose the novel “Skinnybones” by Barbara Park. There were days when I could barely get through reading time because a part would strike us as funny and we’d all dissolve into laughter.
That year my fourth-graders learned how to write book reports and how to choose books that they’d love to read.
After BSE I taught sixth grade in Turners Falls and earned a master’s degree in special education from UMass-Amherst. Today I’m a special-education teacher in Orange. I work with sixth-graders, and I’ve been here for 15 years.
I’ll always remember how lucky I was to learn together with this class. My hope for them has always been that they would become even more awesome, bigger versions of the awesome kids that they were in fourth grade.
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