Grade Appropriate Occurrences

I was hoping that this week would be without any difficulty, without any abnormal events. We only had 2.5 days of school due to the holiday, so I was feeling as though my hopes were reasonable.

Then came yesterday.

1. No more than 30 minutes into school, Queen Goldfish came walking up to me while I was taking attendance. Calmly, she not-so-quietly shares that she believes (rightfully so) that she has just "pooped herself a little bit." No lie. The poor thing apparently has been having "issues" and, while she should be at home, instead she was sent to school with an upset stomach. Luckily, no one catches on and we're able to make our escape to the clinic while the rest of the class goes to PE.
Later in the day, the principal pulls me aside to tell me that the mom's explanation was that (and she quoted) "My girls like to force themselves to pass gas and make themselves poop their pants." (You're welcome for the term substitution.)
I'd like to share more about my thoughts on that, but I fear that 1. I will become disrespectful to a parent who I'm almost sure is doing their best. Or something. and 2. I will go on forever.

2. I send my students to the bathroom in small groups of three or four. I have my Bug Lover, who is having trouble keeping his hands to himself lately (or keeps his hands TOO MUCH to himself, if you get my drift)... so I sent him with 2 of my most responsible students. Flash forward 10 minutes (it's a long walk to the bathroom) when they come busting back into our quiet writing workshop and exclaim from across the room "BUG LOVER WAS HUMPING THE MIRROR!"
His account during my interrogation: "Well, I heard that you can't really see yourself up close, so I got as close as I could to the mirror."
Me: "Is that all?"
BL: "Well... I... uh... I was moving around a little."

Enough said.

And, well, for those gloriously innocent students who didn't know what "humping" meant, at least they learned something yesterday. They probably now think that every time they move around in front of a mirror they are humping it. For me, I just ignored the vocabulary lesson. Ignore is a strategy. Yup. That's my story.

Thank you, four day weekend.



She did it.

To the whole class I said "Now is the time to get out your agenda and write the homework."

And she did it. She put down her drawing. She walked to her backpack, pulled out her agenda, found a closer spot and WROTE HER HOMEWORK (on the right day and not in marker!) She then took the homework out of her desk, put it INSIDE of her agenda, closed it and put in back in her backpack.

Now to get her to bring it back. Baby steps.



I sounded awfully negative in my last post about this student. I sounded like a hard you-know-what. I mean, big deal that she didn't write her homework, right? I hate homework.

No reason to have a breakdown about it.

Pick your battles. Sigh. Deep breath.

SHE is my battle. I am fighting for her because I know she can do it. I am fighting for her to be there, be active, be present, BE A LEARNER, because I know how smart she is. I want to see her succeed and love and learn and grow in every way possible. I demand that she meets us on the carpet. I demand that she put that sketch book away and pull out the materials with which we're working. I demand that she becomes aware of her surroundings and her available resources.

At first I was flexible, too much so... and I let her draw and seclude herself from the rest of the group and then draw some more. She could spend all 7.5 hours with me in her sketchbook. I love that. And I hate that. Then I got to know her. I figured out her threshold. And I pushed it. Because SHE can do it. She can put that drawing paper down and follow along with us... IF she finds the drive to do so.

I want to find her drive. I want to find her inspiration to WANT to do things. I want to find them so that I can show her, prove to her that there is MORE.

And today, when I literally ran after her at dismissal (she slipped out the door while I was talking to another student), I found her waiting at our Kiss and Ride. She saw me, and immediately walked over. When I said "Let me see your agenda," she immediately gave me a look - the look that she knew what she'd have to do since she didn't write her homework. She walked right back to the room with me, happy as a lark, where we wrote the homework. Without tears. Without screaming. Without angry thoughts. And then we went merrily on our way.

I will call this progress. One day at a time.


The Standoff

It was 10 minutes until dismissal. Everyone in the room began furiously writing their homework into their agendas. All but one. Queen Goldfish was busy throwing her used tissues on another student's desk. Until my voice turned into flames and axed down that activity.

It was 5 minutes until dismissal. Students were circling around me to share their weekend news and "Guess what I pulled out of my nose" stories. We were happily getting ready for dismissal... I was smiling, they were smiling, and then, DING... they were gone in a flash. As they paraded past my post at the door, I would look up at their desk, then give them a hearty "Have a great afternoon," and send them on their way.

Queen Goldfish was in the line to leave. Since I know that Queen Goldfish is not good with homework - writing it down or doing it - I made sure to ask her a few extra questions. I'm trying to be good about helping her learn organizational skills. If you know me, then you'll know that this does NOT come naturally.

Me: "Queen Goldfish, did you write your homework in your agenda?"

She sticks her bottom lip out and turns away, pulling out her agenda to go write her homework. A few moments later she's back up, trying to push past my post at the door.

Me: (noticing that THAT didn't take long) "Did you write your homework in your agenda?"

Queen Goldfish: "YES" (grumble)

Me: "May I see it, please?" (all honey, right?)

Queen Goldfish: GRUMBLE and pulls out her agenda, where her homework is in fact written, but on the back of some random page - sprawled in scribble and barely legible - in marker.

Me: "Please go write your homework in the correct spot, on today's date, and in the correct way so that you can understand what you wrote later today."

This is when the standoff begins. There was throwing, there was huffing, there were LOTS of tears and sobs.

After a few moments I approached her and asked if she needed my help. I'd be more than happy to help her, I repeated. She grunted at me and threw her pencil. I said, "Looks like you're not ready to answer me, I will be back in 2 minutes."

Two minutes later I walk over and repeat the same thing. This time, she responds with YES, she does need my help. I happily sit next to her, pulling up a chair and getting a pencil ready. When I ask "How may I help you?" she tells me that she needs help writing her homework because (and here's where I have to take a breath)....she "doesn't feel like doing it."

I walked away. I ended up finding her a spot closer to the homework board, since she was sans glasses today. She huffed and grunted and pouted her way through writing all of the homework. All the while I kept the sugar tone in my voice in hopes that she'd just come around.

I walked her to meet her sister to walk home. The whole way I tried to lighten the mood by telling jokes and asking about what she'd do tomorrow (a day off). If you were within a miles distance, you would already know how she took that...

Tomorrow we have a day apart. Back to the demands on Wednesday though.