I now think that every elementary school teacher should teach one or two years in middle school, just to gain some perspective on elementary school kids. The neighborhood definitely makes a difference too.
On Meet the Teacher Day, Monday, I had all 24 of my students show up with at least one of their parents. One girl actually came in with both parents and both sets of grandparents. They asked a lot of great questions, were very friendly and told me to call anytime.
On the first day of school the kids brought all their supplies, said the pledge out loud without prompting, used "please" and "thank-you," cleaned up after themselves and no one used profanity. I also got gift basket from one student. Throughout the day they asked questions, were engaged and (shocker) at the end of the day, they told me to have a good day and that I had made things fun.
Ahhhhh.....it's like lying on a warm beach after spending 2 years at the North Pole.
I already feel like we are a little family. Having the same kids all day for all the subjects is a big responsibility, but I feel like I know them so much better. My blocks of time are pretty planned out, but the day goes by so quickly. I've over-planned so far and need to get better at calculating what can be reasonably accomplished each day, but with good kids now I can actually devote my time and energy to being a "good teacher," instead of a classroom cop. Novel idea, I know!