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November 21, 2015 / sharoncopy

New School Year – Days 32-36

I sat at a U-shaped table with 5 cute Kindergartners, including Mallory and Kayleigh, as the parapro led the class opening. A tone signaled time for the Pledge and we all stood. Mallory earnestly whispered and signaled to me, “You have to put your hand like this,” demonstrating how I needed to quickly put my right hand over my heart. “Okay,” I said, trying not to smile. “You have to turn and face the flag,” she added, pointing. Kayleigh nodded vigorously. “Thank you!” I responded. They shot me a glance in the middle of the procedure, pleased and maybe a little surprised that I knew all the words. It was all – SO SWEET – how they wanted to be helpful to their guest.

Monday to Wednesday mornings this week I was in a very easy job: Jr. Air Force ROTC. The highest ranking student in the class runs the show and I was just there for back-up and some direction. I did a lot of reading and did one drawing.

There was a guy named Jonas in the third class who was in charge the first day because the usual leader was absent. He was very adamant about every rule, telling kids to turn off phones, stop sleeping and read, etc. On the second day, he wasn’t in charge, and I couldn’t help but notice that his behavior was entirely different. In fact, I had to speak to him several times to be quiet, get busy, etc. and at the end of the class he and another student threw pens at one another. I toyed with the idea of telling him that leadership ALSO means being an example to others of how to follow one’s leaders, but after the pen-throwing incident, I decided to just leave a short note for the teacher (Sgt. somebody) and let him address the issue.

Overall, I was far more impressed with the leader in the first period, who spoke to the students in a firm, yet not degrading manner. If I had to have a leader, I’d take Anthony over Jonas any day. This guy will be a leader.

On Thursday I was in a Kindergarten in Melvindale, which, as usual, went well, though of course very busy (especially after the cushy JROTC gig for three days). But in the afternoon, I went to a very challenging student body in Inkster (Westwood District, it’s called) which I have been avoiding so far this year. Half a day – 4th grade, how bad could it be?

Well, it was very frustrating. I tried clipping kids up for doing well, but it just set off those who weren’t doing well. I tried clipping kids down for continuous disruption, but they just disrupted more. I sent two kids to the office (or was it three?) I finally decided to ditch the last of the work and just read to them, but it was not to be. I can’t just read to a class where people keep continually talking. Maybe I would need to learn to do so. I just couldn’t figure out how to make education happen (although we did get through some math problems) so maybe I should have just sat back and kept them from fighting and settled for that. But no, I want the majority of the kids to have a chance to learn, and I suppose I want to feel successful, that I have done the lesson plan. But when there are so many (10?) who just keep disrupting/talking etc. – I’m afraid I didn’t handle it well.

When I first got there, the teacher told me within the hearing of the class that they are a very bad class. Not sure that’s wise. Another teacher was yelling, screaming at them and other students, and I thought of two words to describe her – and they both end in -itch. It really was very nasty sounding and she looked so angry even out at recess where many kids were being punished for talking in line (?) and other infractions by having to miss recess fun. I know we need something to punish them with, but I also think that taking their recess away is often counter-productive because they don’t have the chance to run and yell.
Well, by the end of the day I was tempted to imitate her actions, and I don’t like feeling that way. I made some comments which probably weren’t helpful, although I didn’t let loose with everything I felt like saying. (Was it wrong to tell an extremely disruptive student that he was the rudest person I’d met in a long time?) I went to the car, called Dennis, and cried. Then I went to IHOP for dinner before my college class, for some good comfort food (french toast, egg, bacon). Mmmmmmmmmm.

Great ideas from the kindergarten where I worked in Canton (and met Mallory and Kayleigh) on Friday: 1. When a student didn’t finish some work, they were to mark it HW and put it in their take home folder. 2. The parapro chose a student to be a helper during calendar time, which ensured that she would do everything in the exact order that the kids are used to (months, days of the week, counting, sight words, weather, etc. is all part of calendar time.)
3. Whenever the kids got the answer right, or if the parapro gave the answer, then she would say, “Did you think the right answer? If you did, kiss your brain.” The kids would kiss their hands and then transfer that kiss to their heads. 4. Instead of “Give me Five” or some of the other silence-prompts I’ve heard, this parapro did the “shave and a haircut” start – “Bump, bum, bum, bump, bump” and the kids would answer, “Bump bump!”  She also had one where she said, “Macaroni and Cheese” and the kids responded, but I didn’t catch the response. 5. They chose jobs for the day – putting just the first letter for each job onto the board – then drawing names out of a bin.

Friday afternoon I was in a second grade in Canton, and I saw a great game out on the playground – it’s called Gagaball. It’s an octagon-shaped wooden enclosure built with 1 x 10 boards and large, wide green hinges. A whole class of kids can go inside (diameter was maybe – 20 ft?) and they play by hitting a soft “gym-ball” with their hands only. If the ball touches a person’s leg, s/he is “out”. The kids seem to really enjoy it – many going after the ball, and some just avoiding it. Of course, a teacher had to keep an eye on the game (two boys in my class nearly got into a fight) but WOW, what a great playground item!



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