Nervousness and excitement came over me as I approached the classroom door. I peered through the little window in the door, and saw about 24 little faces sitting in their little desks working diligently in Ms. Johnson’s 1st Grade Class. The thought came through my mind if they would like me? Can you imagine, a 36 year old woman wondering if a class full of 1st graders would welcome my presence? Finally, I knocked on the door. My nephew looked up and his face lit up. I took the first step into my reentry into the 1st Grade, as the self-appointed Class Auntie.
It’s amazing how you begin to see social hierarchy develop among humans in a group setting when you spend time in a 1st Grade classroom. The age where you begin to see the things we all desire as adults, to be accepted and to receive approval from others.
On the afternoons I volunteer at the school, I review sight words and reading fluency with these early readers. As each student goes through their personal libraries with me, when we conclude our one-on-one time they look up and wait for the smile and “Good Job”. They curiously want to know how they are doing compared to their peers, but what’s interesting is that they want to know how their other classmates are doing. Each student works hard each week to master the words they get stuck on, because they have one clear goal in mind…400 sight words. Once they reach the goal of knowing 400 sight words,they get membership into an exclusive club. The benefits of membership in this club is a pizza lunch with the principal. Each student wanted their other classmates to be in this club with them. They wanted the exclusivity of this club to be exclusive to Ms. Johnson’s class. Even in the 1st Grade, membership has its privileges.
Although they begin to desire acceptance and approval, those desires aren’t at the expense of others. They encouraged one another to progress in their mastery of sight words. They have accepted their classmate from Brazil, and patiently read with her celebrating each milestone she achieves. They are learning how to confidently step into their desires, and showing us all how achieve our goals and desires without tearing down others. What if adults carried that lesson forward into their adult lives?
We each have a personal goal to achieve, and our desires for acceptance and belonging don’t go away as we get older. We exchange membership into The 400 Sight Word Club with The C-Suite, Marriage, Entrepreneur, or Parenthood Club. Unfortunately, we sometimes tear others down in the process. None of us our without fault. What if we held onto the 1st Grader in us all, and remembered that we can get there by surrounding ourselves with a group of people that push us along, challenge us, or make us RELAX.
Because after all, if we push each other to achieve our goals…we all get invited to the pizza party with the principal.