I have a really squirrely group of second graders this year. It’s a struggle to get a quarter of them to do any work, let alone stay on task for more than ten minutes at a time. I’ve played the authority figure, “You need to get to work now.” I’ve tried reasoning with them, “If you don’t do your work, how can I give you a grade for this project?” I’ve tried the Responsive Classroom approach, “What should you be doing right now?” I’ve tried pleading with them, “Pleeease go back to your seat and work.” Finally, on this day, when the little squirrels were all fueled up on cupcakes, chocolate and candy, I gave up. I was done fighting with them. It was too much, and I caved.
It started with just one student, and soon after, another, and then another, and then I found I just couldn’t stop. I heard myself telling each student, “Why don’t you take a break, and go grab a book to read.” The look of immense relief that crossed each student’s face upon hearing those words was… shocking and disheartening.
Wait a minute. You would rather read than do art? You would rather quietly read a book than create fantastical landscapes and chitchat with your neighbors?
What is wrong with you kids?
On the other hand, I’m sure the reading teacher would be thrilled to hear this.