A few weeks ago I had just come back to the classroom after having a student teacher for 4 weeks. It was SOL season, and even though first graders don't take SOLs, our schedule gets switched because of the tests. We also miss recess to keep the noise from interrupting test-takers. We were into the 2nd week of testing and everyone was getting a little antsy. Changes in our schedule are particularly difficult for some of the kids in my inclusion class and I had many children station themselves under tables in protest.
On Tuesday a little girl, determined to get my attention, threw a chair. She had tried whistling at me with a "hey you!" and when that didn't work she picked a chair up over her head and let go. It wasn't intended to hurt anyone, just to get us to notice her. When one of the special education teachers in the room attempted to get her to go to the thinking spot she refused to go, saying, "You can't make me". After she had settled herself into the middle of the table, we were left to call the office and have administrators come down to get her.
This display of resisting authority did not help the environment in the room. As the week went on this chaotic behavior continued, more children under tables, more out spoken behavior.
By Friday afternoon I was exhausted. I finished my last guided reading group and went to take a sip of my diet coke* before bringing the children to the carpet for reading share. Unfortunately I didn't just take a sip, but a few large gulps before I noticed the bitter, antibacterial taste lingering on my lips. Standing not far from my diet coke sat the bottle of germ x, the antibacterial hand soap I have the children use before going to lunch. Lightly licking my lips again I confirmed my suspicion, my diet coke had been germ-xed.
Not wanting to create an uproar in the classroom I approached a likely suspect and asked her if she had done anything to my coke (first graders do not lie very well so there is no need for true interrogation). She looked horrified. "Miss L!" she exclaimed. "I could hurt you! Why would I do that?" Feeling instantly guilty for accusing her I looked around the classroom, looking for a likely suspect. One girl who had overheard this confrontation yelled, "I saw _____ put germ x in your coke!"
OK. What to do next? A child, on purpose, had put a substance in my drink whose label read, "If consumed immediately contact a physician".
The boy in question was currently out of the room with his reading teacher. I left my kids with the IA and approached him. I hated to interrupt the lesson but I crouched down and asked, "Did you put germ x in my diet coke?"
His big eyes gave everything away as he frantically shook his head no. His reading teacher slowly pulled the book away from him, closed it and said, "Oh. I think we're finished now"
"Did you put germ x on my table and get it in my diet coke?"
His head hit the table and large sobs started. His entire body was shaking. The reading teacher and I stood silently, in shock more than anything else.
It was up to the office, yet another trip that week.
** ** ** **
Obviously, I lived. A quick google search led me to realize that my friend had only started my happy hour early, seeing that germ x is really just made up of alcohol.
Later the reading teacher asked some of my other children why they hadn't notified me the minute they saw the germ x enter the drink. "Well" one little girl said innocently, "Miss L always tells us to take care of ourselves and not tell on other people". I think that might have been the only time all year she listened to that particular suggestion.
As a class, perhaps it brought us closer together. We had a class meeting when I returned to the room and discussed the hazards of germ x, as well as general disrespectful behavior. The boy in question has done so much to win my heart this year that it is hard to be mad at him for long. It helped that his return to the classroom after his long suspencion showed a remorseful, ready to learn child.
Still, that weekend I thought long and hard about the teaching profession. I went to my first graders' soccer match and then attended a birthday party for another one of my students, reminding myself why I do this job.
Still, in law school a six year old would not have tried to poison me. At least, I hope not.