. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: April 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Success and the Other Thing


This week, a young man with little confidence in his academic skills surpassed his reading goal. The thrill on his face would have been worth giving up a week's worth of pay.

...which I already have via furlough days, by the way. And then some...

His goal was to read 118 words in a minute fluently.

He read 126 words and did so without any errors!

I sent him over to my teaching partner, who has been working very hard with him, to tell him the good news. He beamed with pride as he announced to his other teacher:

I read 126 words in a minute with NO arrows!

Alrighty, Robin Hood!

Other Thing

Every day at dismissal, a certain little fourth grader asks if my teaching partner's iPhone has "wi-five"on it because "his mom's iPhone does." Evidently, "it's cool."

When we get tired of the never-ending discussion about wi-five, we send him over to the gate to stand guard for his mom.

And he does. At the gate he stands with his back straight, arms at his side: quarter turn left, quarter turn left, salute, quarter turn right, quarter turn right, salute, quarter turn left, quarter turn left...

I don't know about you, but I see a future for this kid!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Running" Out of Excuses

Worst Legitimate Note to Get a Kid Out of Running the Mile:

Dear Teachers,

Please excuse my daughter from running today. 
She has been running with her mother and uncle a lot lately.

Thank you


As my teaching partner said, maybe we should excuse her from reading because she's been reading with them too.

How about math? Did she do any of that at home? Probably shouldn't do it at school as well.

So we sent her off to WALK the mile instead.

She wasn't happy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Life Lessons

I never like to get those phone calls from the office that start with:

"Hello Mrs. Lee. There's a parent in the office right now who would like to speak with you."

It's never good.

I start wracking my brain.

Who did I piss off this time?

Was it something I said? I can't recall anything controversial.

Ha! Like it takes "something controversial" to upset some parents.

Goodness knows what I've done this time.

I'll bet it's related to running the mile later this morning. Grrrrr.

What a way to start my morning...

Luckily, I team teach and we do everything together, including placating upset parents.

We three marched up to the office and found the father of one of our most reliable, best behaved, most athletic boys standing there, arms crossed and furrowed brow.

Well, at least I know it's not about running the mile!

Next to him was his son Tim, eyes red from crying and shame splashed across his face.

Me: Good morning, Mr. Johnson. What can we do for you?

Mr. J: Hello. Tim has something to tell you.

Tim: Ummm Mrs. Lee. Remember that test we took on the rock cycle?

Me: Yup. (Like a month ago.)

Tim: Well, I copied one of my answers off of Jimmy's test. I copied number five.

Me: Oh! Oh, ok. Well, Tim... (Holy cow! This sweet kid has been marinating in this guilt for a month!)

Tim (crying): So I tore up my test and want you to give me a zero. I also will accept any other consequences you think are fair. I should have NEVER done that.

Me: Wow, Ok, Tim, what motivates you to bring this to me now?

Tim: I couldn't take it any longer. I felt so guilty, so I went to my parents and told them about what I did. Really, any other consequences are fine. I deserve whatever you think I should get. I was soooo wrong. And Jimmy had NOTHING to do with it. He's innocent.

Me: Well, Tim, I think the zero is more than enough for a guy who clearly understands his poor choice. Frankly, I'm proud of you. Of course not for looking at someone's paper, but certainly for coming to your parents and your teachers about what you did. It takes real bravery to do this. You are a gentleman with true character. 

My teaching partners went on to explain how we all make mistakes, but the real lessons come by admitting them. THAT is where real learning takes place. Childhood is the perfect time to make these mistakes. We really were proud of him, and it was important for him to know that.

Tim learned a far more important lesson from one little bad choice than anything I can teach him about the silly rock cycle or anything else in science for that matter.

The life lessons are the most important lessons we teach.

...and we never have them in our plan books.

Oh, and I only lowered his test grade by 2 points, the value of that question. (Thanks for the suggestion, Ma.)