Sunday, March 16, 2014

Who Let The Dogs Out?

We are not there yet.  It's too early. Even though the calendar shows only six more days until spring, this is Michigan, after all, and we can't count on really "nice" weather until at least the end of April.  So, I'm wondering, who wants to let the kids know this?  You would think with their excessive chattiness and their squirming and wiggling that it's springtime and the weather is warm enough to even, *GASP*, include an extra recess. 

But it's not.  

Today was one of those days when I felt frustrated and overwhelmed and just plain grouchy.  Everywhere I walked in the classroom, I had three or four little ones following me, all talking at once, asking for something, telling me something, tattling on someone, or just trailing along to see what I was doing.  A couple even followed me across the hall and into another classroom.  I couldn't shake them.

Now, 99% of the time, these little shadows don't bother me.  I can handle each of their little issues, all while passing out an assignment or fixing a netbook.  Usually even with a great sense of humor.  But today, my patience meter was registering very low and by lunch time, I couldn't take it anymore.  Thankfully, one of my little helpful cuties started up a movie (our usual Friday lunch treat) and I headed to the microwave to prepare my enticing Lean Cuisine meal.  

As the microwave counted down the three minutes, a couple of students queued up beside me clutching their little Rubbermaid leftovers.  

"Who put their lunch in there for three minutes?" asked one of them.  

This is because I always tell the longer time microwavers to let the shorter time microwavers go first.   They all were getting upset about this microwave hog.  

"It's my lunch," I told them.  "I'm hungry and irritable and I want to eat my lunch and not have to wait for twenty minutes to get my turn.  Today it's 'Teacher First'," I proclaimed, as the microwave counted down. 

They milled about, not wanting to argue, but anxious to get their lunch going and not miss any part of the movie that was already playing. The stern look on my face meant business and they weren't going to poke the tiger.

DING! The microwave announced that the meal was cooked and I carefully and slowly took it out and carried it to the back table. I plopped down and scanned the room, making sure everyone was eating and behaving themselves.  Excellent!  Perhaps I could get an entire ten minutes of time to just simply sit, eat, and relax.   

Within seconds my quiet lunch was interrupted by the boy sitting at the table next to me. 

"Do you want one of my chips?" he asked, holding one out in his little hand.  "They are really good." 

"No, but thank you for offering," I told him.

Kids pick up on everything and they knew I was a little bit crabby, so many of them were trying to help put me in a better mood.  

"Your lunch looks good!" the same little boy offered as my plastic spork piled with rice and chicken headed towards my mouth.   

I held up the Lean Cuisine box with the incredibly appetizing picture on the front and waved it towards him.  

"Well, it looks much yummier on the box," I showed him.  He nodded.  

"But it's Friday!" he added, smiling.    And I couldn't help but smile back and, indeed, I began to feel a little better.

With gym right after lunch and a movie to keep them occupied during lunch, soon the room was abuzz with the little lunchers cleaning up, talking, and changing into their gym shoes. 

Later, as the final minutes of the day ticked away, I looked at the back carpet where some students were playing chess.  I looked around the room at the student partners playing chess and chatting.   And then out of the corner of my eye I caught a little boy crawling across the floor on his hands and knees barking. Yes, that's what I said.  Barking.  Like a dog.  In the middle of the classroom. No rhyme.  No reason.  Just living in the moment, I suppose. I watched for a few minutes to see what he was going to do.  But just like that, he jumped up, walked back over to the chess game and his partner, and resumed their game of chess.  Dog no more.  

Soon we packed up and got ready to leave for the day, and interestingly enough a song kept playing over and over in my head.  A song that seemed a fitting end to my day.  

Here's hoping the weather warms soon so all the little dogs and little kids, and especially the teachers,  can get back outside. 

It is, for sure, time to let the dogs out.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Three Ring Circus

Some days, as a teacher, I feel more like I'm the ring master in a 3-ring circus.  Or maybe more like the clown following around the elephants scooping up poop.  We have had indoor recess for the last three months and there is an extreme case of cabin fever in my classroom.   Well, OK, maybe not really three months, but indoor recess is kind of calculated like human to dog years.  You multiply the number by seven.  Whatever the tally is at this point, it doesn't matter.  The fact is, the kids need to get outside. And this seems remote, since the polar vortex has once again gripped the area with cold. 

So, back to my circus. In one ring are the little jugglers performing.  This would be the little cuties who are tossing their pencils and Cheetos from their snack in the air while simultaneously spinning their ruler on the tip of a pencil.  It's a beautiful balance of rhythm and timing. I would take bets that you could give them some plates and sticks and they would be capable of flawlessly balancing them, all while practicing some cursive. 

Ring two is where you will find the acrobats.  These are the ones who can precariously balance their chair on two legs, sometimes even holding their arms out to balance.  They teeter on the chair legs creating excitement and glee for the spectators.  On the rare occasion that they actually fall from their seats, they rebound with the agility of an Olympic athletic and return to their act with barely a blink. 

The third ring of the circus are the clowns, performing their silly antics and shenanigans. Making goofy faces or replying to questions with funny puns or jokes.  The darling little clowns are never without a smile and help to keep the rest of us smiling along with them.  There are no sad clowns in my little circus.

And me?  I would be the ringmaster.  The organizer and coordinator of the many acts taking place in my classroom throughout our seven hour daily show.  I keep us on schedule, completing our performances, and practicing for upcoming acts. 

So, step right up folks and get your tickets to see the show.

Because the circus leaves town soon.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Here Comes The Sun

This winter has been unbearable.  It has been bitterly cold, windy, dark, gray, and just plain long.  It has snowed, and snowed, and snowed and then snowed some more.  So when the temperature reached 40 today and the sun was shining, it was like a curtain was lifted and finally we all realized that winter would, indeed, end.  Now, not anytime soon.  It's only March in Michigan.  But at least now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And at least we can be thankful for the return of outdoor recess. 

The third graders have been writing research reports on a Michigan animal.  Their report includes a glossary.  I laughed out loud today as I read one of the entries:

My sentiments exactly.  Especially after this winter.  

p.s. No offense Alaska.