You don't need no stinkin' pencils.
At least that's what we're telling our students.
You see, pencils have become the most sought after commodity in 4th grade at our school. No matter how many we supply the students with, they all disappear within a day or two.
Such a little issue. Such an enormous headache.
So we monitored the pencils. Handed them a pencil when they walked through the door in the morning, and ripped it from their sticky little fists at the end of the day. It was their ticket in or out of our rooms.
First day with a sub...
all the pencils disappeared.
So we got more pencils. Handed one to them in the morning and collected them each time they changed classes.
Next time we had a sub...
all the pencils disappeared.
So we begged the office to give us more pencils, which they are reluctant to do because we have certainly used more than our fair share of the pencil budget and they potentially could do nothing but get us more pencils (and fix all my attendance screw-ups...but that's a story for another day.)
Within two days...
all the pencils disappeared.
We made one final plea for pencils. We were granted more, however we were also nicely admonished (rightfully so) about our excessive pencil consumption.
And today, we had subs so we could attend a meeting...
but we still have all our pencils!
Because we hid them.
We gave the kids pens and made the bulk of the substitute's job being the Pen Police.
We tell the kids all the time that it's the little things in life that are going to make or break your success.
I think this little thing is going to make or break my sanity.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
You don't need no stinkin' pencils.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I love a good twist at the end of a movie. One that you didn't see coming and that leaves you with that smiley "DAAANG" feeling. Well, I experienced that smiley "DAAANG" feeling at school and it was even better than at the movies.
I have told you before how, like most people, bullies at school really get under my skin, especially when they target the visually impaired students at our school.
How LOW can you get?
Bullying a BLIND kid?
Well, it happened again.
Yesterday, one of the aides from our visually impaired class came to me with one of her students who was in our fourth grade last year and told me the following story:
Nick was in the restroom when another student came in, wet a big wad of paper towels and chucked them right in Nick's face. The bully then said, "Ha ha! And you can't even see who I am!"
(My jaw is tightening as I type this. It is infuriating to me.)
When Nick told the brat,
I mean the punk,
I mean the other child
that he might not be able to see him but he would recognize his voice, the kid announced he was a fourth grader.
A fourth grader? One of our students?
Well, I had not dismissed anyone to the bathroom in the past 10 minutes when this had occurred so I marched over to the other room and asked my partner if she had.
With a looooonngg history of poor choices in his wake.
My heart sank.
This kid is one who we know wants to do well, however he lacks any initiative to do so unless one of us is right next to him. Free from our sight, he seeks out trouble.
I called him off to the side.
Me: Have you been to the restroom lately?
Him: (Head hung low) Yes, Ma'am.
Me: Was anyone in there with you?
Him: (Slow head nod)
Me: Did anything happen that I should know about?
Him: (looooong pause) Wellllll, Nick was in there. (Looooonger pause)
Him: And a bigger kid threw wet paper towels in his face and made fun of him for being blind so I got in between them and told the bigger kid to leave him alone and that if he didn't leave I was gonna tell.
Me: (looooooooooooooooooong pause) THAT'S FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!! Well, not the bullying part, but the part where you helped a kid being bullied sure is!!!
After we talked, our fourth grade hero bravely marched into a fifth grade room and openly identified the bully, whose name he did not know. We told him he could just identify him privately to us, but he wanted the bully to know who turned him in because bullying a blind kid is wrong.
We then sent our fourth grader to the office for his first visit to the principal to be recognized for making a fantastic choice instead of a fantastically awful one.
I love a good twist!
Monday, February 7, 2011
There is no better way to get to know a kid than to have lunch with him.
I did that today with George. He's that lovable little imp who did this and this.
How did it go, Edna?
C'mon! Would I be writing about it if it went well?
I realize I need to get to know George better. He's a kid in need of a little TLC...
...if TLC stood for something OTHER than Tender Loving Care.
He had good behavior (relative term here) last week and just wanted to spend some time with me as a reward.
That really is touching, so I invited him to bring his lunch to my room on Monday and we could do a little art together while we eat.
First thing in the morning, he shouted to me from across the playground that he couldn't WAIT for lunch today.
"Me too!" I shouted back. (I'm going straight to hell.)
Lunch rolls around and he arrives right on time, smile on his face and juice in his hand.
Me: Where's your lunch?
George: I don't want any. It's burritos.
Me: I don't want you to skip lunch. At least go get some fruit.
He leaves and returns 0.0003 seconds later.
George: No fruit left.
Now, I can't just snarf down my lunch in front of a kid holding a sweating bag of juice as his entire meal, so I handed over 3/4 of my lunch to him, which he gobbled down in less time than it took him not to go get some fruit.
And then it was time to make shoe monsters! (Take off your shoe, trace it on a piece of paper, put your shoe back on, make a monster out of your shoe's outline. Take THAT, Van Gogh!)
Well, I got as far as the tracing my shoe part when the Real George emerged.
George: That's your shoe? This is my shoe. I can't get my shoe back on. Put my shoe on for me. My velcro is stuck. Fix my velcro. I don't like laces. Laces are stupid. You should use velcro shoes. Is that gonna be your monster. I'm gonna make a purple eel monster out of my shoe. I want you make an eel monster too. I want you to use the purple marker. Is yours gonna have hair. Give yours hair. Elvis hair. I want you to make a mustache. Smell this marker. Draw a car in the sky with a ladder for him to climb. Then give him wings.Use the blue marker.
Me: I'm not going to use the bl...
George: USE THE BLUE MARKER! Blue is my favorite color and eels are my favorite animals. I like pizza. I think I'm going make mine eating pizza. You need to make yours eating pizza. Did you draw pants on yours? Why? I don't like pants that snap. They hurt my belly. I don't want you to draw pants. I want...
Me: How about you draw yours your way and I'll draw mine my way?
George: I aaaAAAmmMMM! Draw big teeth on yours. Right here. Name yours Purple Elvis Eel Monster. That is what I want you to...
Me: Oh darn. Time for us to end our lunch together.
Me: I know. I feel the same way. (Straight to hell, I tell you...) Time flies!! Why don't you hit the restroom.
While he hit the restroom, I hit the wet bar I keep stashed in my desk. (Just kidding.)
My plan backfired. While I do indeed know him better, I learned that to know him is not to love him.
And I'm still hungry.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
Why is it that when a grade level has success with students by addressing student needs in a different way than the rest of the herd at school, they are ostracized and ridiculed for being different? Are we educators no better than the mean girls on the playground? Can we not put our petty fears aside and simply recognize the students' success?
Which is why we're all here, right?
If teachers are genuinely doing all they can to meet their students' needs, no one will question if they're doing it in the same manner as another group of teachers or not. IF they are doing all they can, that is.
Could it be that only those who realize deep down inside that they are indeed NOT doing all they can, feel the need to lash out? Are they afraid of the unknown or afraid they might be asked to change and it might be uncomfortable?
Or is it just easier to do what they've always done?
Gone are the days when we can simply blame a student's lack of success on his or her economic situation, language ability, parental involvement, or willingness to learn.
Whether we agree with it or not, we have to teach them all and we are responsible for the outcomes.
Also, gone are the days when you can always do what you always did. How we approach teaching has to be as varied as the students in our classrooms. What works for one student or group, may not work for another and we don't get to blame the students for that.
(We can satirize them anonymously on a blog while writing under a pseudonym, but we can't blame them.)
Now I understand that middle school and high school are different animals, and students have a greater say in their success or failure, but I am an elementary school teacher so that is the beast I understand best.
And what I know, without a shadow of a doubt, is that kids will walk through fire for a teacher that they believe truly cares about them.
If they know that they are not a number to you, not a statistic, not a success or a failure to you, not a pie graph or data to be analyzed they will work hard for you.
If you tell every one of them that there is NOTHING they can do that will make you not care about them, they will work hard for you.
If you tell them that they are so important to you that you want to know their families and regularly invite them to informal events where you just chat and get to know them personally, they will work hard for you.
And parents will know you on a deeper level, which naturally endears you to them.
If you repeatedly tell students that you don't care what score they get on their tests, but only that they try their best, they will work hard for you.
And their scores will go up.
If you tell them that learning to be a better person is more important than being a better student, and you try your best everyday to model the level of respect you want them to show others, they will work hard for you.
And their scores will go up even higher.
And you will risk being hated by your colleagues for not focusing on the same things they focus on, yet having more academic success than they are.
And those colleagues...
can suck it!