Floating down the Delaware

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 14 2009

year 2, day 4 :o)

Today was the first monday with my pumpkins and after today I can officially say that I’m not looking forward to Mondays this year. I had demon children today. It’s like they called one another up on the phone last night and decided to create havoc today. I had to change a couple of seats today because it was just that crazy, but towards the end of the day the new seats seemed to have worked and the day ended much smoother than it started.

I have to keep taking a step back while teaching and remind myself that my pumpkins are still young and aren’t going to be as quiet and perfect as my babies were at the end of last year. We’ll get there, but it’s going to take time. While not in the moment it’s easy to step back and say that, but when my children are driving me up the wall and getting out of their seats and screaming my name all at once, it’s hard to picture perfection.

After the first day of exasperation with Lil’ Johnny, I cracked down, became firm (which is totally unlike me) and it’s been relatively smooth sailing since then. We’ve shed some tears – him more so than me, and changed our lights to red and yellow like it’s our job, but today we actually stayed on green all day today! (We had a few watch out warnings, but for the most part it was smooth sailing). I honestly don’t think we’d be making so much progress so if it wasn’t for his mom being absolutely awesome and fantastic. On Friday we had a lot of problems standing in the hallway without touching things or jumping up and down, so Mom spent the weekend working with him and having him stand with his hands in his pocket. Minus a bathroom break issue where he kept his hands in his pockets and did a karate kick, it was a fantastic hallway day for him.

With Lil’ Johnny under semi-control (because let’s be honest, he’s 6 and we’re gonna have rough days and not be utter perfection) I can now focus all of my energy and attention towards the other difficult child we’ll call Oliver. Oliver has self control issues and blurts out every single thought that comes into his mind and does so pretty much at the top of his lungs. He also has a nasty habit for talking back and just not really caring about moving up and down the traffic light at school. His mom only speaks Spanish and has yet to sign his behavior sheet so I’m pretty much alone when it comes to shaping his behavior. My heart breaks for the kid because I know he isn’t getting any help at home when it comes to homework and reading, but at the same time it doesn’t excuse his behavior. By the end of the day today I was tired of saying his name – never a good sign. It’s time to do some searching and reading to try and find new strategies to use with him.

So yeah, by the time Social Studies came around today my pumpkins were much better and no longer possessed. Maybe it was because I moved whole tables to yellow for talking and gave them all minutes at recess for refusing to be quiet, but regardless Social Studies and Centers ran quite smoothly. Today during SS we were working on About Me books and so I modeled the process of filling out the first two pages, completing the cover page and drawing a self portrait. Done in my typical stick figure/cartoony Ms. Smith style, I drew a picture of myself (in a phillies shirt, obvs) walking my kids through the process. To make sure my kids were paying attention to life in general/to see who knew their colors I asked them what color my eyes were. And that’s where this little gem came from:

J: Ms. Smith, I can’t see your eyes, can you open them wide please?
M: Sure, J.
J: Wow Ms. Smith, you have really beautiful eyes…I could stare in them all day. Do you have a boyfriend?

pretty sure I fell out of my chair laughing. the joys of 6 year olds.

My other pinch me moment for the day also came during Social Studies. Earlier this year we read the story Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. I made a huge yellow flower out of paper and hung it on my board to go along with the story. I explained to my kiddos that the flower was Chrysanthemum and we were going to watch and see what happened to her during the story. Every time one of the students in Chrysanthemum’s class made fun of her, I ripped a petal off of the flower. Moral of the story was that by the end of the story there weren’t any more petals on the flower. My kids were outraged and kept shouting, “NO! Don’t take another one off!” Pretty sure the point hit home. So in order to fix Chrysanthemum the flower we all had to say a peace pledge and one by one put the petals back on the flower, so now I have this huge yellow flower taped to my white board as a reminder to be nice to one another and only use kind words when talking to our friends. I’ve recently gotten in the habit of taking a petal down if I hear someone say something unkind to another student in the class. My students get outraged that a petal has fallen and immediately rectify the situation. Well today I had two little children, one who got bumped into, and one who did the bumping. I took a petal off of the board (to a chorus of “no!”) and handed it to the bumper and asked how they would feel if they were the bumpee. The little boy got this sad look on his face and immediately apologized and said, “You can be my friend forever” to make the little girl feel better. My class clapped and I told the little boy (the bumper) to hang the petal back on the flower. He looked at me and said, “Ms. Smith, can me and (the bumpee) do it together?”

Yeah, my heart melted. Ahhh-freaking-door-ahhh-ble. They may drive me up the wall with their talking but then they say and do things like that that just make everything better and okay.

Clean up time was disastrous, but it’s the end of the day and everyone is just excited to get home so hopefully it will become a smoother process as the year goes on. Maybe I’ll make a end of the day clean up poster (with pictures) to help the process along.

So yeah, that was my day. Now it’s time to organize the huge pile of stuff that I’ve put off since professional development and is slowly growing more and more each day. Football and organizing papers – should be a good night. Let’s go Buffalo!!

One Response

  1. staci

    You give me hope.

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The few, the proud, the Camden Corps

Greater Philadelphia
Elementary School
Elementary Education

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