Saturday, October 2, 2010

They make me smile... even when I'm not supposed to!!!

One thing you'd find out about me if you spent any amount of time in my classroom is that a lot of times, I start saying something and have no idea how to finish my sentence or where I was planning to go with it. Haha. This is particularly true if I am scolding my students. A lot of time I have weird pauses and stutters and repeat myself, just because either what they did was so ridiculous that I have no words for it or because I'm having to choose my words carefully and make sure I say things so that they sound serious to a fourth grader (I use the words "respect" and "that's what they do in Kindergarten" a lot!).
Unfortunately, I felt like I had to do a lot of disciplining this week (I blame the rain!), and so my kids probably think I'm a big meanie. For the most part (aside from Monday (see my last post) and Friday afternoon), they actually weren't that bad of a class. The biggest thing they struggled with was lunchtime. Our school started a discipline system in the cafeteria where each table has a paper with a stoplight on it and a clothespin with the teacher's name. Throughout their 30 minute lunchtime, if the students in a class aren't following the rules (staying seated, talking in quiet voices, voices off if the lights are out, no fighting, etc), the clip gets moved from green to yellow. If they continue to misbehave, it goes to red. Then, if they REALLY can't get it together, the clip gets placed on top of the stoplight. So, as I said, my class had some difficulty this week in the lunchroom. They got red on Monday and Tuesday, yellow on Wednesday, red on Thursday (my super ADHD child decided it would be a great idea to bite a hole in the bottom of his milk carton and then when the milk wasn't coming out, he squeezed it with all his might and it ended up exploding), and past-red on Friday. Needless to say, I was not a happy teacher after lunchtime. (Thankfully it was raining, so I didn't feel TOO bad about taking recess away from them!). Anyway, the reason for me saying all of this..
So, on Friday, after I picked them up from lunch and saw what color they were on, and you could tell by the looks on their faces that they knew they'd disappointed me/they were in trouble. They silently walked down the hallway and into the classroom and sat at their seats (as they'd done EVERY DAY THIS WEEK!!). Because I knew they were about to explode if they didn't get a chance to vent about why their clothespin got moved, I gave them my little schpiel and let them take turns telling me what happened. I was doing pretty good getting my point across until one of my kids started sharing. This student is not my brightest, but he is adorable and always says the funniest (unintentionally!) things. He said, "We were all just eating and talking, and then one student started play fighting with someone at another table, so we moved to yellow. Then we were being too loud, so the counselor moved us to red. Then, we talked when the lights were off, so the counselor moved us to ULTIMATE RED." I have NO idea where that term came from, but I had never heard it called that before, and the way he said it with extreme disappointment/hurt/like it was the worst tragedy in the world almost made me laugh out loud! If you've ever tried to discipline someone while hiding a smile at the same time, you know it's near impossible. So, we quickly moved on to math. (Earlier in the week, another student was giving me his version of what happened with the exploding milk incident and included all kinds of weird sound effects and actions that I couldn't stop myself from laughing out loud!.... My kids probably think I'm a pushover. Hmm..)

Thankfully, it's not just when I'm disciplining that they make me laugh or smile. But, I guess it can be just as bad when I'm in the middle of teaching.. For example, we were doing our whole-group reading yesterday and the strategy we were practicing was "Making Inferences". The way we teach them to make an inference (although, by 4th grade, a lot of them do it automatically) is to take information provided by the author/what the story tells you, combined with what you already know/your experiences, to figure out what someone is feeling or what is happening. The story I was reading was called The Big Boasting Battle (it's one of my kids' favorites, if you teach, I definitely recommend it! Lots of prefixes and suffixes, too!). At one part of the story, the lion and the snake fall into a trap and realize they can't get out. The inference we were trying to make was how they were feeling about that. I said, "the story tells us they fell into a trap, the walls are too high and they don't think they'll be able to get out. We know from our own experiences that if we think we're trapped, how do we feel?"
Student 1: "Sad"
Student 2: "Scared"
Student 3: "Worried"
Student 4: "Constipated"
Student 5: "Disappointed"
Yup, you read that correctly. She did say "constipated" and I did keep right on moving! Haha. Apparently she had no idea what it meant, because when the boy in front of her gave her a funny look and said "ewwwww," she gave him a confused look right back and said "what?" This is a) why my job is so important and b) why I love going to school everyday!

 Other times when they make me laugh and I'm not supposed to are when I catch them passing notes or love letters and decide to read them and the spelling is ridiculous or the note is just completely from the mind of an 8 year old! If these don't make you feel the love, you're heartless.
First, notice the top: Not for You.... um, ok? Second, notice the poem: filet's are blue. True love.
Truly spicel.

So, while it's hard to control my laughter and smiles at times, there are enough other times where I don't have to and the whole class breaks out in laughter that it's totally worth it. Laughing children has to be one of the greatest sounds in the world.

All in all, despite the gloomy weather, it was a pretty good week in Room 21. We got a 2-hour delay on Thursday because of hazardous road conditions. Consequently, I had 5 students absent (2 of whom were my little trouble makers), so that was quite a laid-back, laughter-filled day! Next week is a pretty big one, as it marks the end of the 1st interim on Wednesday and we have Back to School Night on Thursday!


  1. Looks like you have to DVR The Office.

  2. Steph, I love hearing your love and compassion for these kids as it flows through here. I was just talking this weekend about how NN is on the rise-- great hospital, huge police station, I said the next step will surely be getting the schools in shape. They need a thousand more like you!! Also, hilarious, hilarious children. I can't wait to meet 'em!