Revolution, Babies, and Pill Bugs

The last time I told a class I was pregnant, they spent about 45 minutes processing and asking questions. This time, it went VERY different.

After telling most of the staff, I was eager to let the kids know. Especially as it got more and more obvious that I was not just getting chubbier. I wanted them (and their parents) to hear from me before word got out. Unfortunately, crazy schedules, extended absences and unexpected time out of the room meant over a week had gone by since I planned to announce. Finally, I had a day that would work.

We spent the first part of the day on a field trip, touring sites in Boston associated with the American Revolution. One of my favorites! We were scheduled to get back around 1:30, which would give us two hours before the day ended. Plenty of time!

Except it wasn’t, because we got lost walking back to the bus, needed to find bathrooms, got lectured by a very cranky bus driver on noise level before we could leave, and then hit traffic. We got in about 2:15. An hour and a quarter? Plenty of time to process the miracle of life.

As we walked in, a frantic secretary waved me over. I ushered my kids into the class, and went to see what was up. Turns out the living organisms we had ordered for our upcoming science unit had come in. Not last week, like the original order said, or next week, like the company told us when they contacted us about the delay. Sitting in the office patiently waiting to be ogled by children were several containers of snails, worms, and pillbugs. All of which would die if left over night in said boxes. Excellent. I figured setting them up in the terrariums we had made could take awhile.

Once we were in the classroom, we circled up on the rug. I had the kids quickly go around and say something they learned on our trip. Then I said I had news to share, told them I was expecting, that I would miss some time but not a full year, I didn’t know the gender, and no, they couldn’t pick the name. Then I asked for questions. Most were to repeat that no, I would not let them pick the name. No, not the middle name either. One boy asked if he could say a comment. When I said yes, he replied, “This was a really weird transition from talking about the field trip.”

I smiled. “It sure was. Now head to your tables. I’m going to hand you a paper plate with worms on it.”




Top 12 Things Your Teacher Doesn’t Want to Hear This Week

1. “There’s blood on the rug… again.” The last word is the most troubling.

2. “Why are you always eating cake?” Why are you always questioning me about my food choices, hmm?

3. “Almonds aren’t a nut, right?” Not that we have life-threatening allergies here or anything.

4. “When I grow up I want to be like Mike Tyson.” Luckily, he meant Neil Degrasse Tyson, renowned astrophysicist, not the boxer who eats people’s ears.

5. After being told that a hugging robot still needed to ask permission to hug. “Know what doesn’t need to ask? A kicking robot. You should just take the hug and be glad because it could be worse.

6. “I love talking to you. This is why I think you should give me your phone number. We could talk all the time even after school.” While a very sweet sentiment, no. Just no.

7. “I don’t think I was here for this lesson.” While referring to multiplication, which definitely was not taught in a single lesson. Or unit. Or year.

8. “I don’t know whose this is, but I’m eating it.” Which is at least better than ‘I don’t know what this is, but I’m eating it.”

9. ” Don’t forget your coffee!” After being told it was green tea, “You don’t drink coffee? I think you should. I really, really think you should. Did you know it wakes you up? You could be so much less tired! Wouldn’t that be great?”

10. “I brought in my permission slip for the field trip!” There is no next field trip this year. This was very sad news. 

11. “I don’t know which bus to take after school, but I bet if I just wander around by the buses for awhile I’ll figure it out.” Wandering through rows of giant, moving vehicles is never the best strategy. 

12. “All my problems involve cats.” How do you even respond to this?

And it’s only Tuesday!

Salamanders! Nosebleeds! Shoe throwing! and some math: A Day in the Life of a Teacher

One thing that’s so great about my job is that there is always a variety of things to keep it interesting.

One thing that’s so hard about my job is that there is always a variety of things to keep it overwhelming.

Here is a summary of what I did today, a day that was overall fairly normal in terms of day to day routine.

7 am- Leave the house. Hit awful traffic.

7:35 Arrive too late to have breakfast. Luckily there is still enough time to feed the fish, turn the compost box, mist the grass growing in the terrariums, and write the daily schedule.

8-9 Parent teacher conferences! Half an hour of showing assessments, talking about social skills, and trying to express how much I love the child in question while still bringing up the fact that he or she is struggling with math/having trouble reading/singing during work times/licking their peers/stealing and hoarding pencils/ making elaborate weapons out of staples. Also during this time that I got a call letting me know they needed my assistant to sub for another class, so no help until after lunch!

9-9:20 Morning work! a.k.a. wrangling kids who would really rather talk about the weekend that do silent reading.

9:20-10 School wide assembly. Extra long today, to honor our volunteers. Who we admittedly could not do half of what we do without, but who also took up all the available chairs, leaving me to sit on the cafeteria floor with my kids, hiking my sweatshirt high enough to make sure my butt was covered, until my lower body went numb.

10-10:20 Math! Except, there was a scheduling issue, so the kids who normally went out for math got sent back. So we practiced our multiplication facts, as loudly and with the most ridiculous voices possible. Is there any other way?

10:20-10:40 Taking advantage of having my whole class and not having my assistant, we worked on the project we are doing for our assistant, who is leaving us to be a full time teacher next year. We are writing advice to her for her next class. This includes such gems as “Play capture the flag” “Don’t be mean” “Play capture the flag all the time” “Don’t teach math unless you have to” and “Play capture the flag.” It is also during this time that I eat a small piece of pizza that is supposed to be my lunch, frantically shoving it in my face behind my desk so no one sees.

10:40-11 Morning recess. One child was sad, so as a deal to get her to stop hug/squeezing me until my organs shifted, I went on the swings with her. We swung as high as we could, during which time I came to the conclusion that either we purchased new, smaller swings than we had when I first taught here, or my butt is bigger than it was when I was 22. Then someone got a nosebleed and threatened to wipe it on someone else. And another student put a wood chip in his nose. These are separate children, I must add.

11-11:15 Language arts. Read aloud at 11:15, where my assistant came back. Except she didn’t come back, she just checked in because the class she was subbing for was at gym. Then there was an announcement for the crisis team, the teachers who are trained to deal with students who become very emotional or out of control. Due to a combination of peer pressure and an inability to think clearly, I am on this team. So I handed the book to my assistant (who, please remember, is not technically with my class yet and still responsible for 25 other kids), asked her to finish reading, and figured I’d be back asap.

11:15-11:45 I wasn’t back. Instead I followed my colleagues around the playground after a little boy who just did NOT want to be in school anymore and was having none of our calm talks. I understood the feeling. I also wanted to stand up on the top of the slide and throw my shoes.

11:45-12:15 Lunch! Normally a break, at least in the sense that I can get things done. Today, a few students were coming in to play computer games with me. This was because I accidentally let it be known that some students stay after to play video games as a reward for good behavior. All hell broke loose, and I allotted all my remaining lunch slots to playing with other kids. So I scarfed down my second piece of pizza as I played Gum Drop Pop 3. At one point, one little girl suddenly stood up and started singing “Hello, I Love You” by the Doors. She sang about half the song in a fairly authentic Jim Morrison voice before losing intrest. She had no idea who The Doors were when I asked her, or where she heard the song.

12:15-12:40 Forage in the staff room for extra food. Find some sort of pastry of dubious age out on the counter, take most of it. Go around collecting containers, spoons, and other tools that we can use to collect bugs.

12:40-1:30 Outdoor science inquiry! a.k.a., get muddy and dig for bugs. We found ants, slugs, beetles, pill bugs, worms, salamanders, and a million mosquitos. Other highlights include most of us sinking down knee deep into the mud, spiders in hair, another nosebleed and an attempt to clean it with wet rotting leaves, hysterical tears over salamander ownership, ant bites that hurt more than you’d expect (it’s ok, you’ll be fine, I don’t think it hurts enough to cry that mu-OH MY GOD! It bit me, too! Holy lkajfgadfnngrrrr that hurts! Wow. Wow!), lessons on why rotting logs don’t make good jousting sticks, and a panic attack when I thought I lost a kid but it turned out he was just lying down in ferns on his belly.

1:30-1:45 Tick check, mud cleaning, putting our new friends in their new terrarium homes, reminders to walk away from the terrariums and wash our hands, cleaning out our containers, reminders to walk AWAY from the terrariums, picking up utensils and reminders to GO WASH YOUR HANDS RIGHT NOW I’M NOT KIDDING RIGHT NOW!

1:45- 2:25 Gym class. Usually my break time, except I scheduled another conference, because I am insane. Another round of assessment showing and reassuring about how great said kid is despite (or because) of their quirks. Albeit a sweatier, more mosquito bitten round. And a muddier one, which I did not realize until I FINALLY got to go to the bathroom and noticed in the mirror that there was mud all over my arms and on my neck.

2:30-2:45 Snack, and a therapy session/science lesson about why salamanders lose their tails when you pick them up, and how yes, that was very sad that you thought it was a baby salamander and then it turned out you were just holding a tail. Also, please don’t put your hands back in the terrariums, and go wash them again. GO WASH THEM AGAIN NOW AND PUT THE CRACKERS DOWN UNTIL YOU DO!

2:45-3:15 Work in progress, a.k.a. stare at the terrariums, freak out about how slugs look, try to steal salamanders from other terrariums, start turf war over salamanders.

Then jobs, and mail, and clean up, and bus duty, and hugs bye, and schedule for tomorrow, and quick meeting with a specialist, and writing a report, and oh, hey! It’s 5:30 and I could eat a live cow I’m so hungry.

I love my job. But I am so ready for vacation.