I volunteer at OC's school three days a week for about two and a half hours a day. It's not going too badly. That amount of time gives me a chance to get to know the kids in her class and to help them with things that are hard for first graders, like writing.
It also means I listen to a lot of stories. I know which kids have dogs, cats, and or fish, I know which kid's dad is in jail because she keeps mentioning it. Most of the time, I love it. There have been a few days where I come home with a headache. Twenty short people with so much energy! So many things to say! Their teacher does a pretty good job of getting them to focus and then reminds them to be quiet and focus and focus quietly and then remember to be quiet. I appreciate her efforts. Her futile, futile efforts.
Her efforts are for not for naught (ha ha), only that it must be done repetitively which is a good thing. It gives the kids a sense of what's expected. Over time, they learn that they really, really can't get away with acting like wild monkeys let loose from the lab because someone's going to make them stop. Eventually, they'll not bother to start and resign themselves to working quietly at their desks learning Euclid's geometry. This is my theory, anyway, and I like to think it with my fingers firmly planted in my ears as the classroom noise exceeds that of an F-14 jet engine.
I want them to learn as much as possible. I hate to hear statistics about how many kids aren't learning to read, and that after a certain point it's basically a lost cause. I don't believe that, although I have nothing upon which to base my belief except hope. There is no reason why every one of those kids shouldn't know the alphabet, letter sounds, how to write, basic math, and to love reading as much as I do.
At the end of my day at school - which is when they go to lunch - they all say "Thank you, Mrs. Tourist!" Some of them want a hug, a lot of them smile and wave goodbye. That's when I melt. How sweet they are! How happy they are at having spent the morning with a grouchy rule-follower like me.