Wednesday, April 25, 2007

13 Episodes I Handled Today..Can You Figure Out Why I Had a Good Cry?

As soon as the last student left my room today I grabbed my things and escaped. I left before I should have. I left fifteen minutes early, but I had to leave. I could not stand the classroom one more minute. I sprinted to my car and got in, left the parking lot, and was well on my way home when I began to cry. It had been a very wacky, crazy, stressful day of testing, very little learning, and I had had my fair share of nine year old hormones to deal with. Here are 13 of the many, many episodes I handled today.

1. Before our last day of testing began I shooed kids to the restroom with the age old adage, “Go try!” I stood in the doorway so I was available to kids in each direction to keep everyone on track and calm. Unfortunately I had to duck back in the room to persuade one young lady to put her soccer ball in the back of the room. I had already asked three times. It’s amazing what proximity will do to urge a student to finally comply with a simple direction. As I went back to the doorway a young man returning from the restroom came to me, “Elementaryhistoryteacher, D. called me a N. (rhymes with digger).” That’s strange. The young man is white and the person using the word is black. “Ok, I’ll handle it,”I said. As the young lady was returning from the restroom I stopped her and spoke with her in the hallway. I said, “Do you know why I want to talk with you?” She told me she did and confirmed the reason. I like to do things this way so we don’t play the ‘no I didn’t do it’ game. She told me she doesn’t see anything wrong with it and she can say it at home. “How would you feel if one of these white kids around here called you that?” She told me she wouldn’t like it. “Exactly,” I told her, “He didn’t like it either.” The young man was just as offended. I explained to the young lady that she can use that word all she wants to at home if it is allowed, however, at school she has to abide by my rules and I don’t allow it to be spoken….EVER.

2. My loud talker talked more than normal today. I could hear him coming up the hall after breakfast. and at the end of the day I heard him all the back down the hall. He began his day in my room with two pennies. He thought it would so cool to take those pennies and flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip…..them on the table-top. I asked him to stop. Flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip. I asked him to stop again or I would have to take them. “You can’t take them, their mine. My Dad says so. You take anything of mine and you’ll have a problem.” Flip, flip, flip….I took them. They are on my desk as we speak. I hope Dad shows up.:)

3. You could tell it was the last day of testing. Everyone is tired of it and everyone is tired of a strange schedule. I had several finished within 20 minutes... a test that should at least take them 40 minutes to finish. Instead of reading after they finished most everyone opted for mouthing at a friend across the room while I constantly leaned down and told them stop, don’t, please don’t, you need to read, I’m not going to tell you again, no, stop, don’t, put it away……Heavy sigh.

4. This year it was someone’s great idea to allow them to have a little snack in the middle of the two test sections. Look up brain based learning and you’ll understand why. I’m not against it….it just doesn’t always work out like it should. My proctor and I had been so proactive in taking up all the test materials after the first section before handing out any food or drink. Today’s snack selection was a 10 ounce bottle of water, a few goldfish and a few animal crackers. After a few minutes I told them to finish up so we could get started on the second section of the test. I told students not to drink all the water in their bottle. They could cap it and place in their desk for later. On no, my direction makes too much sense. Nine year olds are not about what makes sense. Most turned up their bottles and guzzled them down. Except for two young men who decided they would hold their water in their mouths and then spit it at each other just when I happened to walk by. Ick was what I thought when I felt a big, warm splash of water mixed with spit on my foot. Reminder to self…..shower immediately upon entering the house.

5. Once all of the water bottles were empty we had quite a little chorus going on of water bottle orchestra. Seems once they were empty the bottles made “cute” little crinkly noises. Yes, YES, let’s all try. Ms. Procter and I couldn’t get the trash can around fast enough. Crinkle, pop, crinkle, pop, crinkle, pop, crinkle, pop, crinkle, po, crinkle, p, crink, cri, c, finally silence……for about 20 seconds.

6. About midway through the second section of the test I noticed many of the kids were squirming in their seats. Knees were moving in and out, legs were jiggling, and some had tortured looks on their faces. You guessed it…..10 ounces of water in and some will want to flow back out. Nope….can’t go. We are testing. Sorry. Cross your legs. Finish up. Sorry. I can’t let you out yet. We were finally done and after taking “the tests” up to the office so they could be under lock and key I allowed my students out of the room one at a time so they could finally get rid of their 10 ounces of water. It was too early and I was chancing a much dreaded TESTING VIOLATION, but when ya’ gotta go…..ya’ gotta go.

7. About 10 minutes into the second section I positioned myself over by my classroom door. We are required to walk the room during testing and try not to hover, but I mean really……the kids feel our presence. I tend to lean on my stool some and walk the room some as well. The test police be damned. I was standing close to my door in order to peer across the hallway into another fourth grade room to see where they were at the process. Were we ahead of them or were we behind the group? Suddenly, a person appeared at my door. That’s unusual because no one is allowed in the hallways during testing. It was a mom, though I didn’t recognize which one. I try but I don’t see them that often and there are 85 of them. She beckoned for me to open the door. I waved my hands back and forth and mouthed “NO, WE ARE TESTING.” I pointed to the door where a huge sign was there for all to see. In fact, she had passed large orange cones at the entrance to our hallway with signs posted on them, and every door she passed had a testing sign. She finally went away. Our younger grades do not test science and social studies so they were not testing today. Seems a mom was taking medicine to her little one and thought she would swing by and say hi to her older one in my room. I later found out this mom was told several times not walk down 4th and 5th grade hallway because of testing and it would be a violation of the integrity of the test. What does she do? Exactly what she wanted to and the request be damned. Makes you kind of understand where the kids get this type of attitude. Rules and procedures? Oh, they are for that other guy. Not me. I shudder to think what kind of internal paperwork I would have had to fill out if I hadn’t been by my door to stop her from knocking or coming on in. We are constantly told each and every little procedure has to be complied with or we could possibly loose our certification. I mean we are talking about state and federal laws here….they govern the test. I will be expressing my opinions about this matter to school officials at a later time….believe me.

8. One of my mothers came to have lunch with her son today. She came on out to the playground with us and we exchanged pleasantries. Finally she told me what was on her mind. Seems her son…..a well parented, straight-laced type of young man, had been getting love letters and mom was shocked. She said she had several that her son had given her. I asked her to make a copy of one and return it to me and I would handle things on my end. Seems the young lady was writing some explicit things that the young man didn’t understand. She thought he was “hot sexy” and “wanted to to do the night thing” with him. Apparently "the night thing" is some type of song lyric...I wouldn't know. Reminder here……..I teach students who are NINE.

9. While I was keeping one eye on a corner of the much too large playground full of too many children I kept up my conversation with the mother mentioned in episode 8. Suddenly two girls came up and mentioned that one student had left the playground to go after a first grader in order to “jack her up” (the girls’ words…not mine). Jack who up? What do you mean? I finally determine one of our fourth graders was upset with a first grader because the first grade little girl was mad at his sister. He had already slapped her on the playground and then followed her class off the field to “get her”. I found the young man’s teacher and alerted her. They finally located him and apparently he won’t be around for the rest of the week if you get my meaning. A breather……for him and us. We have a daily problem of some kind with him

10. I noticed four little girls kicking away at smart, heart-throb of a boy. He’s that kid in elementary school that ALL the girls LOVE. Whereas in my day we usually pined for the young man from afar little girls today are much more assertive. Heart-throb has been literally harassed all year by the girls. He finds a love letter in his desk at least once a day. Now it’s getting scary. Seems he finally had to tell one girl, “I don’t like you.” And she retaliated by instigating a kick fest with a few of her friends. The scary thing is they really feel they are justified to hurt this young man because he doesn’t return their feelings.

11. During lunch I found several papers on my floor. Some were filled with information for the ‘Push” game. The kids fold the paper in such a way and you choose a number to find out who you are going to marry, how many kids you are going to have, etc……I remember making them and playing with them. These papers were different. Instead of choices like marry, like, or date they are murder, stab and kidnap. Oh my……the names involved didn’t just include various students in the class, but my name was on the list as well as my high school aide. Oh my, oh my! We had a class meeting today and I hope I expressed to each and every student my disappointment and shock at these choices, and that I would prefer they not be played at school at all. I followed the proper procedures and turned the papers over to the counselor.

12 Once again I had some climbers in the boys restroom. We have a wall that divides the urinals from the stalls. The boys attempt to climb it so they can sit on the ledge. We have begged for something to be put on the top of this divider wall to encourage the young men NOT to sit up there. It might not seem like a big deal, but remember I am contracted to maintain the safety for these boys. All I need is one busted head....

13. Rat-a-tat-tat….Bam, bam, bam….thump, biddy, biddy, thump…rum, tum, tum, rum, tum, tum….tap, tap, tap, tappy, tap, tap. “Quit thumping and banging!” I beg again and again, and again throughout the day. Students, hands, fingers, and arms mixed with table tops equal little Ricky Ricardos and the bongos. I half expect to hear Ricky exclaim “Ba-ba-loo!” any minute.

It was a long day. I deserved a good cry and I took it. I get to teach tomorrow...really teach. We are going to back up now that the test is over and revisit the Louisiana Purchase more in depth. Perhaps I can replace some of the inappropriate behaviors with ones that involve learning. Two more days until the weekend. Twenty-two until the end of the year.

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Dan Edwards said...

JUST a cry ? Thou deserve more, much more.

We start testing the second week of May.....and with the group I have this year, I am not looking forward to it.

Hope you feel better. Only seven weeks of school left until my summer hibernation.

EHT said...

Oh my good friend! Thank you! I'm packing my whip for tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

As one of those dumb parents (I have had a few moments with teachers.) I want to say for any and all of them I am sorry.

Also as a mother of a hyper child, I am also sorry for them... :)

Teachers are the foundation, and I appriciate you!

Thank you for this post, it is nice to know what you feel like too...

Robin said...

That does sound like a really rotten day. Shall we send chocolate?

Seriously though, I really admire you for going in there and trying to shape young minds each day. There isn't enough money in the world to close me in a room with 35 nine year olds...

Alastriona, The Cats and Dogs said...

I hope today is much better.

I am sure your studnets will enjoy getting back to the lessons.

Anonymous said...

As the kids say, "I feel you."

Today was NOT a testing day, and it was if my 9th and 10th grade Spanish 2 students had been lobotomized. Even the simplest tasks they were flubbing. I reminded them that there are seven more weeks, and some of them have already checked out.

God Almighty.

Robyn Mills said...

Go cry, wipe your tears, teachers are not immortal, take heart soon you will be on holiday.

Carina said...

Every teacher I know deserves a good cry at the end of the day. It's best if you've got a shoulder to receive said weeping.

Aristotle himself probably had a few of these moments when Alexander was particularly demanding. There's a student who could make some frightening threats!

Crazy Working Mom said...

Wow, bless your heart. My hat goes off to you. Teaching is not for the faint of heart I'm sure. When I was younger I always thought I wanted to be a teacher. But, I could not imagine having to deal with what you do. Keep your chin up, brave soul!! You'll get through to the majority of them and make an impact on them, I'm sure of it.

Mercy's Maid said...

Bless your heart! You should schedule a spa day or something.

"do the night thing" is from a song called "I'm in Love with a Stripper"....nice parenting letting a 9 year old listen to that! Goodness!

Butterfly Angel said...

Yikes, I thought I had it bad with 8th graders! You are to be admired, teaching 9 year olds.

Now that testing is over, school is over! Well,that is according to the students but we still have five weeks to go.

I was so stressed that on the last test day I awoke @ 3 am and did lesson plans! :)

Hopefully you were able to 'de-stress' at home.

Vaya con Dios!

teachergirl said...

So sorry EHT- I felt your pain last week. I walked around and around and wore a pattern in the floor of my room; my students weren't even allowed to read when they finished testing, so I had to keep the lid on early finishers while maintaining test security for those kids who used their time wisely.

I am so glad we are finished testing; but now the 5th graders are completely out of control. What is left for them to do? Only wait for the test results to come back. They don't care about their grades anymore.

As for me, I can't wait for the end of the year, either. I'm going to James Madison University this summer to study the Constitution. Any chance I'll see you there?

Have a fantastic Friday!!!

Kathy said...

Oh. My. Goodness. You deserve every reward, blessing, honor, praise & vacation you earn! What a have my sympathy.
I taught for only one semester, at a christian school, no less, and cried several times at the end of the day. One semester was enough. I knew I was not teacher material.
God bless you for your patience.

I'm astounded by your stories of violence, and talk of violence, with such a young group. I didn't think that stuff happened until middle school. What is happening to our world? our culture?
It's so sad.

EHT said...

Thank you everyone for your kind comments. Yesterday and today were much better since we were back to a normal school day, and I took the day off from blogging yesterday as well. I didn't even check my comments.

I think we are doing the public a disservice when we act as if everything is ok in schools. It's not. We have severe problems in all areas. Unfortunately the only one the press and the legislatures take a long look at is what the teacher has or hasn't done.

Once again...I appreciate your comments and support.

HappyChyck said...

That was only one day?!?!? Bless your heart...

Mrs. Bluebird said...

Oh you poor dear. Cry all you want - I don't know how those of you who teach elementary do it. We finished our tests last week and our kids are wild! 16 days....

Anonymous said...

This is the greatest blog post I have ever read. If I could vote for one "Post of the Year" this would be it.

You have written the reason(s) why I have decided to become a high school history teacher.

Wait. What am I saying? Any person is crazy to be a teacher. But it's in my blood. I can't help myself.

God bless you for being a grade school teacher. I thought of doing it, but decided against it.

The Tour Marm said...

Your one day makes my entire tour look like a piece of cake! Of course the problems I had were not with the students, but weather etc.

Take a deep breath and a mint julep.

You've got lots of people supporting you!

Tour marm

Bellezza said...

Regarding the flip...flip...flip? Those little, unceasing sounds make me absolutely twitch. I have developed an extraordinary lack of patience for anything tapping. At least in my classroom, I can remove the object as you did. At staff developments? Where another teacher is clicking her pen 70 times a minute? I'm not so comfortable taking it away. But someday, I just might.

Dennis Fermoyle said...

EHT, I always wondered what it would be like to teach at the elementary level. I think I'll stay in high school.

Onyx said...

Hey you stole my week! Except mine are in junior high. Hang in there