The Pick and Nag

Brace yourselves. Let me set the scene.

My current classroom is in a new "quad" trailer set up, about 200 fourth grade steps, or 8 minute fourth grader walk, to the nearest bathroom and hand washing station. 8 minutes. If they're efficient. And by efficient I mean they AREN'T tempted to peek under our trailer (which is currently uncovered, so you can see all of the support beams and cinderblocks holding us up). The peek will lead to another, and before you know it you have half a class of fourth graders peering under the trailer with their bodies slithering far too close to the "no no zone."

This means that we wash our hands, on average, 3 times a day. IF we're lucky. Otherwise you have a germ-a-phobe teacher chasing you around the room with hand sanitizer... which has been banned at our school because of a few unfortunate incidents involving a teacher's drink and (separate) incidents of students licking the hand sanitizer off of their hands, and thus, becoming ill and negating the purpose of the application of the hand sanitizer in the first place.

So, the other day I'm minding my business doing one heck of a bang-up job reading a book aloud to the class. I look up during my dramatic pause, and there it is. I count one-two-three-four fingers on a student. Where is the fifth finger, you ask? Three-quarters of the way up one nostril. I think I can see him going cross eyed. Too far, too far! And then, when I made eye contact with the student, he pulled the finger out (YES!) and then stuck it in his mouth (NOOOO!!!!) And then, while still holding my eye contact, he DID IT AGAIN!

No shame. The worst type of nose-picker-and-licker.

I was calculating, in my head, how many minutes, hours, days, this student would be missing from my classroom because he'd be in the bathroom. Sent there by his teacher to scrub his paws.

I made the obligatory "no no no" shake of the head and then the silent mouthing of "go wash your hands."

Ten minutes later he was back at his desk. And for just a moment, I thought he had kicked the public habit. Just for a moment.


Home Visits

Inspired. Drive surrounds. Ambition abounds. The hallways. The rooms. The brains.

Leaking. Bleeding learning into homes. Homes bleeding life into the classrooms.

Pumping, growing, giving life a new meaning inside of my small four walls.


No Quiero Decir Adios

Among the members of my class I have a few who are new to our school, and two that are new to our country. One student in particular is from Bolivia. He speaks minimal English, but man does he have this amazing drive and potential. I believe that of all of my students, of course, but this little man is just a pleasure to attempt to communicate with. In my out of practice best impression of a person who knows spanish, I have been able to tell him where the bathroom is and where to go in case of a fire (And no, Dept of Ed, these are not in our standards. Take that). He can label our state on a map, play place value math games, and, and this one I love, he finally mastered my name (which, I have to say, is not easy for native spanish speakers). His mom and baby sister came to back to school night, and at the end they had me pose for a picture with the family. His strides in just 2 weeks were so marvelous - even he sensed his accomplishments and showed his pride through his smile and adorable fourth-grade puffed up chest.

I have grown attached to this one - perhaps because when you are trying to mime "Where are your library books, you need to return them here," you become connected in a Helen Keller and Teacher sort of way.

I found out yesterday that our new family is moving back to Bolivia. I'm not sure of the exact reason, perhaps the pressure of a single mother in a new country with two little kids and no money... who knows... but all I do know is that my Bolivian friend is leaving. And today I found out that his last day is tomorrow.

How do you express sorrow and well-wishes in mime and broken spanish?


The New Class

I am about a week and half behind in sharing about my new classroom family, and I have to be honest, I am still gathering my thoughts about them.

At first I had this "I'm subbing for this new class" feeling, where they didn't really belong to me. I would walk past my students from last year in the hallway, standing outside of their new classrooms, and I would want to gather them up. Tucking them into my pocket, I could carry them with me into the new year. This must be why some teachers loop with their class.

This is a big transition year for me, not because I'm changing grades or anything, but because I moved out of my current classroom on top of the whole "who are these little kids in my classroom" thing. My school is growing. Seriously growing. Our population is up, as well as our teaching staff. More people everywhere! So, in order to accommodate our growth, we had to spread out into EVEN MORE trailers. We have singles, doubles, quads, and mods. Oh, my! My adventure began when I volunteered to move out of the Modular building (10 classrooms and an office, bathrooms, and workroom) into a new Quad (bare bones, brand new!, 4 classrooms).

After a rough start, we are getting settled in nicely, the Strangers and I. There are still some kinks to work out, but for the most part we are making our transition to the new building very nicely. I have to say, the biggest downfall is the lack of a restroom nearby. A bathroom break for a pair of students takes a minimum of 8 minutes. Add up all of those emergencies, and that's a lot of time lost. That's our biggest ripple right now... but we're working through it.

As for my new group, well, I will reserve my comments on most until I get to know them a bit more. I have some wonderful students, I can see that already.

The one student I will mention is new to our school. She is so sweet, her face, her demeanor, and her voice. She moved to the US just a short year and a half ago with her mother and 3 siblings. In speaking with her today, I found out that they came to the US "to study," as she puts it. In the last year and a half she has made incredible progress, learning English for the first time, and even learning some Spanish as well. She spoke with me today about her mother, and how hard her mother worked to teach the children about the US, reading, writing, and speaking. I can not wait to meet her mother at parent orientation. And I have to come up with a nickname for this one, as I can already tell that I will be sharing about her frequently.

Stay tuned for Season Two!