Friday, November 21, 2008

the perfect storm

today was pure chaos, no organization about it.

picture this: friday after an already long week. the first week it's been so cold the kids can't go play outside. a week that brought the first snow flurries of the season. a week that began with three days of substitutes in one of my classes. it's pajama day, our principal is out of the building and we have two different sets of visitors at our school. the last 3 days children have lined the hallway in the office. i personally have been behaving like ms. viola swamp. teachers and children are cranky. construction workers have decided today will be a great day to work in the first grade hallway.

and so it began.

time, 7:40- setting, book club for my old students:
my smart cookie and her sister went into great detail about how they chase each other with old pet needles at their house. this disturbing conversation was followed by "hey, mrs. lipstick, you know, our mom is a pet sitter. she could totally watch your cat over thanksgiving"
yeah. no.

time, 8:10, setting, hallway:
my co-teacher and i were chatting about a lesson for today when we heard quite the scuffle out in the hallway as the kids began descending on our wing. an investigation showed that the contractors who had been working in our hallway that morning decided not to put away their ladders or remove the large wires hanging from the ceiling as the kids came barreling down the hallway. we spent the next 10 minutes body blocking kindergartners from swinging on the wires or climbing up the ladders while the construction workers merrily went about their business. this thrilled my bff who took one look at the ladders and wires in the hallway and turned right back around saying, "OH NO" as he ran the other way. i should have followed his lead and gone home right then.

you'd think they'd quickly finish up and leave but when i returned back to the hallway after a meeting i found their tools sitting out, unattended.
tools as in saws.
which they left unattended.
in a first grade/kindergarten hallway.
i kindly explained to them that 6 year olds really like shiny things. and 6 year olds can't see something without first touching it and then waving it in the air. this image of six year olds out of control with saws didn't seem to bother the construction workers as much as it bothered me. i later heard many people from our office yelling at them yet this still didn't change the fact that they'd leave for extended periods of time with multiple saws just sitting in our hallway.

time, 12:30, setting, first grade literacy block:
after reading groups i looked up just in time to catch one of my kiddos attacking the other with a marker. off to the thinking spot with her- where she promptly lay down and kicked her feet back in the air like she was at home watching tv. my co-teacher went over to talk to her and sent her back to the carpet. yet halfway to the carpet the little one changed her mind about following directions and turned back around to get water. my co-teacher told her she wasn't allowed so she placed her head against my teacher's stomach and proceeded to attempt to head butt her way to the water fountain. now, this little girl is the size of my pinky so i feel the words 'head butt' are strong, but i can't think of another way to describe it. nor can i understand what was going through this little one's mind as she did this to her teacher.

so she was off to a thinking spot in another teacher's classroom to draw a picture of what she did and what she'll do better next time.

i returned to the classroom where my bff was waiting for me, indignant. "how dare you take her?" he cried. "where is she? i want her back" and just to prove he meant it he threw a paper. we've taken the line with him that if he throws things he has to go to the thinking spot- so off he went. "i want to go with her!" he cried from the thinking spot, and, being as brilliant as my bff is, decided to throw anything he could reach so that i'd get angry with him and send him to the other classroom with the little girl.

after removing everything in his surrounding area so that he could no longer throw anything i popped back to check on our first little friend to see how she was coming with her paper. i was impressed with the elaborate drawing and asked her to explain it to me. "that's you" she said. "stealing my gold"
"you're stealing my gold"
"why would i steal your gold?"
"because you like to steal gold. see, here's you with the gold, and there's the store and there's me."
"and what do you have?"
"a vacuum"
"a vacuum?" i had to ask.
"why do you have a vacuum"
"it was dirty. i had to clean."

so i hauled her into an empty classroom and asked if she knew what "being in trouble" meant. she nodded.
"do you know you are in trouble right now?" i asked
"me? why?"

i was much more direct this time.

we roll played listening to the teacher. so back she went to make another drawing. (this time i drew in her teacher and she just had to draw herself- doing the right thing)

time, 2pm, setting, the hallway-
by 2pm i thought nothing more could happen since it was almost the end of the day. silly me, i returned to the hallway where it had all begun just a few hours ago. as my bff's classroom came around the corner a teacher caught my bff with his hands around another kiddo's neck. i pulled him over to the side of the hallway to try to explain why this was not ok behavior when he reached up and put his hands around my neck. now it wasn't hard and i don't think it was out of violence- i don't even think he knew what he was doing (don't worry, we'll address this much more on monday) but his whole class saw this and GASPED. later, out at kiss and ride kids kept running up to me, "were you strangled?" they asked, "so-and-so said you were strangled."

perhaps, if i was strangled, i might have an excuse to not coming into school on monday. of course, i did return to school the monday after the hand-sanitizer-in-the-diet-coke-incident so i don't suppose i could get away with not going in now.

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