As part of a study of the American colonies, we have kids imagine they are going to a ‘new world’ and brainstorm what they would bring. They imagine they have a suitcase to fill with items they’ll need to survive. This in itself is funny enough, as you contrast the kid who is packing ten bottles of conditioner with the kid who is bringing a solar-powered water filter. (My assistant and I have created an ‘Apocalypse Survival Team’ of the kids we would want on our side when the end comes.)

Once their group discussions had progressed to the point that they had convinced each other that no, they could not bring a dog in a suitcase and have it live, and that having an iPad when there was no electricity was not a good choice, and that if you must bring conditioner you probably did not also need hair oil, they had things narrowed down. Most groups decided they would bring seeds, so then the group discussion became what kind of seeds.

During group work, I rotate between groups giving guidance, asking directing questions, and stopping by my desk to eat snacks. I passed one group in time to hear this: “Listen, we only need two crops: rice, and beans. Trust me, you can live on that. It’s the Dominican way.” That made me smile.

On my next time with this group, I walked in on a heated discussion between the Dominican girl and her Chinese friend. Should they bring black beans, or soy beans? “You can make tons of stuff from soy beans, like tofu. It’s more than just beans.” The first scowled. “You don’t eat tofu with rice.” Her friend threw her hands up in air and shouted “You don’t even know what you’re talking about!”

At this point, I was trying not to laugh. What a great display of cultural identities coming together! Meanwhile, one of the other students in the group was sitting there with a thoughtful look on his face. This kid is extremely Irish- Dad was born there, has a very Irish name, visits frequently. He suddenly gasped, reached over to grab the drawings of seed packets they had made,  and said “Oh my god, you guys! POTATOES!”

I had no way to explain to them why I was doubled over laughing. I think they think I’m insane.


Why I Don’t Teach Kindergarten

The youngest grade I have ever worked with for longer than a few hours is third grade. I have said before, I think primary teachers are superheroes and I bow down before them. Days like today really bring that point home.

At the end of the day, our kids go in to the gym and line up by their bus number. When their bus arrives, a teacher will come bring the line out. Today I walked over to a line and saw the following: five very uncomfortable upper elementary kids, a distraught looking fourth grader hovering over a tiny girl who was smiling beatifically, and a second grade boy named Mikey who was calmly informing the tiny girl that her butt was showing. “Just pull up your pants some more.” He was telling her. She gamely hitched them up. The other kids still looked horrified.

I picked up the sign that had their bus number, inwardly rolled my eyes that the other kids couldn’t handle a tiny bit of butt crack showing, and thanked the gods it was Friday. The line followed behind me, tiny girl at the front. When we reached the door, the little on went on ahead of me, and I saw the real problem.

Her butt was out. Her entire bare bum, her pants pulled down almost to the back of her thighs. “Her butt is out again.”  MIkey announced. The older kids all turned red, looked anywhere else, and tried not to hysterically laugh. “OoooK honey!” I took her backpack, and asked her sweetly to pull her pants up. She did, grabbing them by the front and yanking them up past her belly button. Somehow this made the back go even lower, as evidenced by the gasps and muffled giggles of the older kids.

“Grab the pants by your hips, ok?” I tried. She pulled them by the front even higher. I moved her teeny little hands on to her hips and had her pull them, but that was all I felt comfortable doing- what with all the naked butt and not my student and I don’t know how to handle these situations, ok?!

Meanwhile, the teacher coordinating calling the buses as they came was trying to get my attention to see why we were stopped. “Her butt is out!” Mikey yelled, pointing at the little girl, but actually sort of pointing at me, based on the confused and concerned look every colleague in the vicinity gave me. “Not mine, hers!” I mouthed at the bus caller. Meanwhile, tiny girl was still smiling serenely.

“Grab the pants and pull up like this, ok? Like this!” I made a frantic pants-pulling-up motion. “Do you want me to help shake her?” The hovering fourth grader asked me. “What? No, we don’t need to shake her.” I said frantically.

Finally, we had the majority of her butt covered, and we headed towards the bus. As the line moved forward, Mikey said “Oh, no…” Sure enough, we had a full moon as the tiny one walked proudly and happily onto the bus. The bus driver looked at me with a raised eyebrow.

“Um, her butt is out.” I told the driver, pointing at the little girl. “And, I, I tried, pants, I don’t, I have to go…” I muttered all this while backing slowly away from the bus. Then I scurried back inside.

Hats off to you, superheroes.

New Adventures in Fifth Grade

Today was the first day of school, and a big change for me! I’m moving from teaching grades 3/4 to grades 5/6. This year is fifth grade, and I was excited, nervous, and not sure what to expect. Today went great.

In ways, they were much older than I expected. We played a class game- and no one cried, no one refused to get up from the dirt where they were lying facedown, and no one used their teeth to try and win an argument! This may not sound like much, but anyone who has spent time with 8 year olds knows these are not unexpected behaviors.

In ways, they were younger than I expected. A moving chair made a fart sound, and it took us almost ten minutes to get the laughter under control. Someone spelled the word ‘sad’ wrong. When we tried to line up in birthday order, someone angrily insisted that April came before March. 

Honestly, I was worried that this blog would suffer. Would they make comments that made no sense to anyone? Would they do inexplicable things with their noses? Would they still say hilarious things? 

The answer to all of these questions is- Yes. Good god, yes.

Today’s highlights:

After meeting the new assistant principal : “So that’s the new superintendent!”

“This summer, my hamsters rode each other. A lot.”

“You’re not a dog, but I like you, and I think we’ll get along.”

And just to remind me we’re in scary pre-teen territory… “When I get my period, I’m gonna steal all the pads from my sister.”

Bring it on, 2014-2015 school year!