Thinking for three days has done nothing to spark any creative way to end this blog. The year is over and it’s time to close this book. Don’t worry the sequel will come out in August but this story is over.
It has been a story of stress and learning but mostly this year has been one of friendship and belonging. I expected a year long job, doing my best to make it through my year in (what I sometimes referred to it as) fourth grade purgatory. What I needed up with was something strangely different. I ended up with people who are family. I may never look on back on my first class fondly with memories of laughing and good times but I will see my school family and smile.
I will remember the after school chips and salsa runs several times a week. I will remember laughing about bicycles in the school building and me trying to sport. I will think about the way this group of strangers took me in, took care of me, guided me, and made me feel like I belonged.
I can count on one hand the places I have truly felt part of and my school numbers at the top. These are the people who have seen my actual worst and still want me around.
Thanks for a great year, thanks for the memories, and here’s to years more!
One last time for the year; I love you all!
Laying in bed praying about my first field trip…
Please don’t let that one student bring her permission slip tomorrow! We’ve already made plans and it’s all good!
If she goes… I don’t!
God, if any of those kids say a word about me eating pretzels or drinking water on the bus to keep myself from getting motion sickness, I’m intentionally going to throw up on that one… please forgive me in advance…
Please don’t let anybody die…
Please don’t let anybody escape…
Please help me live through the anxiety of letting other people try to keep my class from dying…
Give me strength to make it through the day without having to eat school sack lunch…
Lord, have mercy on the student who decides to steal from the gift shop because mercy will be the last thing they get from me…
Please keep my students from putting their mouths on other students, to bite them or otherwise…
Give me patience so when I hear, “when’s lunch” for the 100th time before 10 a.m. I don’t loose my mind on anyone…
Please keep me from failing because yolo and that means everyone will remember everything I did wrong for the rest of my existence…
Today was a day of doing things I don’t do. I’ll start from most recent and work my way back.
This afternoon I assisted the coach of a little bitty kid baseball team at their itty bitty kid baseball practice. I volunteered for crowd control and wound up sporting. I threw the ball. I threw it more than once… I did not hit a kid! I did not injure myself! I sported!
The not so great thing I did that I don’t do had to do with blood. A student got a terrible nose bleed at recess today. When I went over to see what was going on, there was blood in the grass. So much blood I could see it in the spring grass… That was the first time my head started reeling.
I tried not to look at the blood too much. We got to the doors and there was blood all over him because she was letting it drip on the ground. I told him he needed to start catching it so it didn’t go all over the floor. It didn’t work out so well and there was blood everywhere anyway.
We made it to the nurses office. When I walked out of the nurse’s office, the principal and I talked. She asked what happened. I told her and she asked me if it was his all over me… His blood… all over my tan skirt…
Sheer willpower kept me upright as the office brightened then darkened a little. I repeated over and over to myself that it wasn’t on my skin and there was nothing to faint over. Also I think I subconsciously knew that if I fainted they would probably call an ambulance and everyone would find out about it.
Don’t hit the floor… Don’t hit the floor!
I happened to have a pair of jeans in my car that the principal let me go get and wear the rest of the day. Then I washed my skirt in the sink.
It was a bizarre day of doing things that I don’t do…
Last year, I found a group of tadpoles. In the process of finding the tadpoles a frog jumped out and almost touched my face. We caught the frog and took pictures and I brought the tadpoles to Mrs. K.’s room. She asked if I could find more fort this year. My dad found one and I took it in today. My class frenzied over the visitor. We did a project on the tadpole and I took the projects and tadpole over to the elementary after school. When I got there, I left the tadpole in the classroom because Mrs. K. was not there. I went back to the office and asked where the kindergarten teachers were. The office lady paged her even after I said it was not a big deal and I could just leave it there. It was a little awkward but I am glad I got to talk to Mrs. K.
It is still weird looking back on all the fun, ridiculous situations I got myself into. Gosh, frogs are gross…
It’s not very often I think up ideas on my own that actually work out for my class. Three days ago I brainstormed an idea that seems like it’s having the effect I intended. I was reading articles about how to stop kids from blurting out. My students often assume that they should just say whatever they want whenever they want. It doesn’t matter if I am talking, if the room is silent, or if the principal is in the room. My students assume that whatever they want to say they should at whatever moment suits them. It’s been driving me crazy recently. My class will just start having 14 conversations right in the middle of my sentence. So I researched.
I found quite a few good ideas that would work for classes that were less challenging than mine. I thought about using beans, as someone recommended, and take a bean away every time a student shouted out. I wasn’t so sure about that with my class because too many of them would knock each other’s beans away on purpose.
I read so many good ideas that were just not quite right for my class. Then I thought, “what if I wrote prizes on cards and every time a student blurts or the class starts talking while I am talking, I will turn one of the cards over and the students will not get that prize.”
I grabbed some card stock and a marker and got to work. I put magnet tape on either side so I can easily flip them over. The students can earn 3 extra Friday free time minutes, 2 go noodle songs the next day, up to three dojo points each, and a joke of the day told by a student picked at random.
I thought for a while about all the things that could go wrong with it. My biggest fear was that students would blame each other for loosing the prize. I decided to try it anyway. I put the cards up on the board and let the students ask about them. They seemed really interested. I told them it would be hard at first to get the prizes because we have trouble with blurting out. I also told them that if one person blurted and I turned over a card that if the rest of the class complained or yelled at them I would turn over two more because we are all learning, we all make mistakes, and we should try to encourage our friends to do better next time instead of just making them feel bad.
It seems to work so far. I had to turn over 4/5 cards today but we were a little crazy today. Spring break is right around the corner and the kids can feel it.
I just hope these cards work out the rest of the year. I might make a second or third set to switch out every week so they don’t get bored with the same prizes. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s working.
I surveyed my students anonymously about how they felt about school, the staff, and me. I felt pretty good when only 3/23 students said false to, “My teacher is a good teacher.” When I asked the students what they thought about our school most of them chose the positive answer choices. It was pretty refreshing to hear that my students don’t hate school, each other, and me as much as I thought they did.
I have spent Friday night and tonight looking over the data scanning for patterns. Something is a little depressing about that fact. It makes me feel better about some things and worse about others. The political scientist in me loves comparing all these numbers! I even had a another teacher ask for it!
Things get messy in groups of people with different opinions, ways of doing things, and past experiences. It’s not an easy thing to live in the world we live in. So many things are difficult. So many things are unfair.
So many times we look at our lives and wonder why the things that happen to us happen. We get angry and think we would be better off somewhere else… anywhere else!
Then you have one of those weird moments where the world shifts. Someone says salsa and you bolt out of a staff meeting and actually run through the parking lot talking to your coworkers about doing whatever you want. And you realize, “I can do whatever I want.”
It takes a lot of kinds of people to make the world go around. Some people that are like you and some people that are different. You need people who are different to show you how you can be better. You need people just like you to remind you what you like about yourself. The thing is though, you get to decide.
You get to choose how you feel about every day! You get to choose whether you crawl into a hole and think about all the stuff that’s awful or run through the parking lot yelling and get yourself some salsa. You have to look and see things the way you want to.
You have to look at the people around you and know that this person is everything you like about yourself, this person is smart enough to show you what you can work toward, this person is going to be there to support you, and this person is going to walk beside you and make the same mistakes you do!
Your life is your choice and a terrible attitude will cause even the best life to look like one that doesn’t matter. Bad things will happen. People will yell. You get to let it happen, yell back, or smile at it and get you some salsa!