Teaching Third Grade in a K-5 School

My principal is interviewing for a superintendent job this week. It terrifies me to think of her leaving, but I know that any district would be blessed to have her as their leader. Two and a half years ago I made the hardest professional decision of my life when I chose to to leave Minges Brook Elementary, to come home and teach at the school I attended as a child: Parma Elementary.

The thought of my principal leaving has caused me to be super reflective on the last two and a half years. One thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot is teaching third grade in a K-5 school. At Minges Brook I taught fourth grade in a K-4 building. When my students at Minges Brook left, they went to the middle school. Many of them came back to visit, but when many of my students left the last day of school it ended up being the last time that I ever saw them.

One of the coolest things about teaching a grade where my students still have two more years in the building after they leave my classroom, is seeing them all the time. The students from my first year at Parma are now fifth graders. I see all of them each day as they head to lunch and I pick my students up from lunch. They are SO tall. It blows my mind.

Each morning, when the bell rings at 8:25 I frantically try to put the finishing touches on my classroom as the students of Parma Elementary begin filling the halls. As my students begin putting their coats and backpacks in their lockers, the first few students that enter my classroom are fourth and fifth graders that I taught the previous two years.

They say things like:

Mr. Sharp, these chairs are so small. 

Do you have the new Amulet?

This is my sister. She’s in kindergarten. Can I borrow some Elephant & Piggie books to read her? 

Have you read them Ivan, yet? You have to read them Ivan.

What books make the Mock Caldecott list this year?

Do you have any new books?

I’m reading Percy Jackson. Have you read it?

When I took the job at Parma, I took it for many reasons. I wanted to teach where my kids went to school. I wanted to teach kids that grew up running the same streets that I ran as a child. And I took the job to teach closer to home. The thought of getting to hang out with my former students for years after they left my classroom never crossed my mind. Handing them a new book, chatting about their reading, and seeing how much they’ve grown brings me tremendous joy.


5 thoughts on “Teaching Third Grade in a K-5 School

  1. I get it Colby-don’t know how I’d start the day without the “older” kiddos who come to help or just say hi in the morning! Well said.


  2. It’s wonderful to have those kiddos stop in each morning! Love to see their smiling faces, too, and tell me about a book they’re reading or ask if they can borrow one!! I’m so glad you’re at Parma, Colby!!


  3. This was my lifeline the year after fifth grade was moved from my school and I moved to third grade. I thought I had lost so much, but my experience was similar to yours. The hugs from the now fourth graders on the first day of school more than made up for any losses I felt.
    Ain’t reflection grand?


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