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June 13, 2017 / sharoncopy

A few annoying moments

The special ed girl who put her fingers all over my whistle today…..Yuck!

The Kindergartener who, upon hearing that I have children, said, “You’re too BIG to be a mom.”

Sweating a LOT in the 90+ weather – outside and also inside the gym.

Watching the Lego Batman movie – which to me was DUMB. Not meant for my demographic. I didn’t see more than half and that’s fine.

Being in a school when it’s 90+ outside and there’s a community water problem so there are no fountains. Kids brought bottles of water from home and the school also went around providing them. Lots more restroom trips. Kids who were supposed to wear swimsuits and have water parties were not able to do so, though.

June 13, 2017 / sharoncopy

92 degrees outside: P.E.

I took kids outside for PE today, but only in the morning. It was actually breezy and better out there than inside the stuffy gym. But for the rest of the classes, we stayed in.
Nobody was required to play – many of them had already had outdoor or other exercise time and some were quite tired, so that was fine. As it ended up, most of the kids wanted to play for most of the time.

We did a round of “Last Person Standing” with Rock Paper Scissors as I hadn’t done that with this group before. Then I got out plastic hockey sticks and divided the class in half. I gave them each 1/3 of the gym and kept the other third in the middle as a no-man’s-zone. I got out a couple dozen whiffle balls, and each team was supposed to hit them to the other side of the gym. I appointed one person from each team to “sweep” the center area and keep the balls that stopped there moving. About every 5 minutes I would blow the whistle and everyone would put down their sticks and sit down and were NOT supposed to touch any of the balls (some were still rolling). Then I counted how many balls were in each end and gave points to the winning team. After a round or two the kids realized that they needed to pay attention to their back area where several balls had ended up just sitting unnoticed. It got especially competitive when I pitted the 3rd grade girls against the boys. ๐Ÿ™‚ ย  With so much space between the teams, there were fewer instances of someone getting hit with a hockey stick. ย The kids seemed to enjoy it.

We also played “crab soccer” where the kids sit in a square formation and 5 at a time “crab-walk” out and try to kick the gigantic (soft) ball past all the other kids who are acting as goalies. Most of them seemed to like this game too. Since the kids were little, I really didn’t keep score, especially since they were kicking in every direction. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have another PE class tomorrow. I have no work on Thursday and then I have a full day on Friday, the last day of school in Livonia: half in the RCR, and half helping pack up the teacher’s lounge. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m good at packing.

I’ve been taking some photos (without kids in them) because I plan to start writing my book about being a substitute teacher soon. Working title: “But My Teacher Said…..” ย  ๐Ÿ™‚


June 13, 2017 / sharoncopy

Ouch! He said…. Defiance!

A Kindergartener arrived at school and attempted to apply the spray sunscreen that his mother had sent to school with him. Unfortunately, he sprayed some in his eyes and he was pretty miserable for the next few hours. Not good to send aerosol anything to school with a 5 year old.

The usual “he said, she said” and “he did, she did” was going on around me. I was playing with about 6 of the kids and most of the rest were “driving” trucks around, playing in the tiny kitchen, or building something or other. B and G came to me to intervene in whatever seismic dispute had taken place. I told them to go to the carpeted area behind me and talk it over and figure it out themselves and then they could go back and play. A few moments later I noticed they weren’t there anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚

Kindergarteners are such creatures of habit. Everything is done a certain way and deviation either confuses them, slows them down, or brings about total defiance:

“We never go sit on the carpet after we do reading.”
“It can’t be time to go home: we haven’t gone to Centers yet!” (spoken at 3:30 p.m.)
“It’s my job to pass out the papers.”
“We HAVE to do math right after rest time!”

The good news is that it really is great to have an exact routine that they can count on. Each kid knows what is to be done throughout the day, even if he isn’t actually doing it.

June 13, 2017 / sharoncopy

It seemed like a good idea…..

300+ kids ages 5-9 all sat on the floor of the non-airconditioned gym watching the Lego Batman movie. Some wanted to listen; some wanted to react and talk. For some of the Kindergarteners I was shepherding, what little plot there was in the movie went over their heads and there seemed a general disinterest.

This “event” was a reward for meeting their reading goals. I’m certain that it seemed like it would be exciting for them. Except – most had already seen the movie. And when kids watch a movie together they want to talk about it. And it was hot. And it’s only fun to sit on the gym floor for short periods of time – not 90 minutes. And they were all drinking bottled water because all the water in Livonia is no good for the next few days due to an earlier power outage. And that meant hands being raised to go to the restroom and a long line at the girls’ restroom door in the hallway.

I think they also served ice cream. I’m not certain because a staff member announced that if anyone didn’t want to watch the movie, s/he could go back to the classroom. A bunch of my kids started asking to go, so I asked the rest of them if they wanted to, and ended up taking all except 3 or 4 of them. We went to the classroom and played with trucks and toys and games and the little kitchen and dominoes and plastic counting bears and such. Unfortunately, I had left the classroom fan in the gym, but we survived.
Anyway – we didn’t get ice cream or whatever the treat was.

I think the era of showing a movie as a perk anywhere has ended. These kids can watch just about any movie anytime anywhere however many times they want. Sitting still and quiet with 299 of your closest classmates in a very warm gym is not really a bonus.

June 10, 2017 / sharoncopy

Hugs, songs, and a surprise comment

5 year olds are about the cutest people on earth. Today I taught about 4 songs to a lovely class, collected MANY hugs and a few colorful hearts drawn and cut out just for me, and enjoyed just admiring their beauty and intelligence. Oh, sure, there were the usual “Please sit down NOW” commands and “Are you doing what you are supposed to be doing?” questions (I love the look that comes over their faces when they are somersaulting across the rug instead of filling in numbers on their “math” page – Huh? Oh, yeah……)ย Today I again asked myself if I am going to miss subbing. I will miss days like today.

There was one surprise today. I was teaching “The Penguin Song” (which has now been learned by about 600 young children in the area – I like to imagine them all meeting up at a park and suddenly belting out this song, followed by 1,000 other kids joining them in the “Pizza Hut Song”. My legacy ๐Ÿ™‚ ). I’ll preface it by saying that no matter what level is ALLOWED, there are always one or two kids that move to a more rambunctious level. IOW, if silence is required, little George will blurt out comments and questions. If quiet talking is allowed, little George will shout. If everyone is supposed to sit still, little George will crawl, sneak, walk, or roll. If everyone is allowed to walk around, little George will tag others, run, jump, somersault, touch stuff that shouldn’t be touched. You get the idea.

So – the Penguin Song is FUN because it calls for silliness and motions that encompass the entire body. But of course, our “little George” had to kick his feet higher and wider than anyone of the 600 have ever needed to. ย So – here we were in the middle of singing the song, and the boy NEXT to little George suddenly yells out, “He just kicked me in the balls!”

That stopped me. I paused, debating how to address the situation, trying not to laugh, and noting that about 4 other VCRs (VideoChildrenRecorders) were repeating the comment, while a few more were expressing their offense. I decided to tell “little George” to move over and be more careful and then jump back into the song. The other boy – not terribly hurt, lost his frown within a couple of phrases.


June 9, 2017 / sharoncopy

Three pix and a hug

I gave 3 math quizzes today. ย I did a pencil drawing of one student in each class on the back of a quiz while watching the 6th graders ponder and write.

L. was SO pleased that I drew her that she came up and gave me a huge hug. ๐Ÿ™‚

June 9, 2017 / sharoncopy

I broke up a fight!

We were in the hallway at 3:30 and the 6th graders were supposed to be lining up for dismissal. I was talking with one of the girls when someone yelled, “They’re fighting!” I looked, and about 8 feet away from me B – about 5′ tall and husky – and C, a much smaller boy, were punching each other. I stepped over there, grabbed B by the shoulders and pulled him away (as some students were pulling C away) and held him against the lockers, telling him to Stop it! and telling the class in general to “Go get the office!” B kept telling me to let him go but C was still nearby so I held on. He was stronger than me and pulled away so I grabbed his T-shirt and held onto it so he couldn’t get to C. I kept telling him to stop and calm down and he kept telling me to let go of him. During this moment, basically almost all of the class disappeared. I told B I would let go if he would sit down on the floor. After more protest, he sat down and I stood guard over him until 3 staff members all showed up kind of at the same time.

Since I laid hands on a student, I went to the office and explained what had happened and wrote it all down for their report. Apparently there are cameras in the hallways (!) so it was all on tape. I got a voice message from the principal later thanking me, saying I didn’t do anything wrong, but they need me to fill out a security report for them.

I did feel a little shook up afterwards, even though it wasn’t dangerous – I guess I started thinking, “What if he HAD started hitting me?” I’m glad it didn’t happen. I would have had to back off. I had been warned about B in the sub notes but we hadn’t really had much difficulty (other than me sending him into the hall to take his math quiz because he would not be quiet). I’m glad he wasn’t angry at me.

I heard a few remarks from the staff about the kids being pretty wound up at this time of year.

June 8, 2017 / sharoncopy

“You’ll make a great regular teacher”

5th grade boy: “When you’re done subbing, you’ll make a great regular teacher.”
๐Ÿ™‚ We did have a good time this morning. This boy was happy because I gave them a five minute break after each subject so they could stretch and talk before being expected to be quiet and still once again. Of course this meant that I had to watch the silly boys who tried to play tag or crawl under desks. Giving 10 year olds free time can be dicey.

The afternoon was spent in a first grade class and I’m sorry to say that their poor behavior rather stressed me out. It was difficult to get any work started because as a group they seemed more interested in their own conversations than in what I needed to tell them. A few references to the principal’s office and to losing a few minutes of recess went a long way towards peace. Except with W and J.

W and J were both the type of boy who want – no- demand – attention every two minutes. I wonder if they are only children because they expect – no – demand – to be the child called on to answer a question, and therefore they blurt out the answer before anyone can beat them to it. I should have called the office for help before my nerves frayed. Finally near the end of the day I sent W to the office. But that wasn’t easy either because I had forgotten to ask the office for the number to call them and it wasn’t posted. I couldn’t find any blank paper to write a note on. Someone found me a wrinkled sheet of looseleaf and I scribbled a note which I entrusted one of the girls to take to the office in order to take W off of my hands. As for J – he missed some recess and I think it made an impression. Unfortunately W was also supposed to miss some recess, but I didn’t write his name down on my list and therefore forgot to keep him inside the classroom.

During recess I did not have duty, so I settled at the teacher’s desk to read a book (I always keep a novel with me for such possible time slots). Several kids decided to keep banging on the windows and ducking down – no doubt the funniest fun they’d had all day. Eventually I got tired of ignoring it (after several minutes at least) and I walked to the door – whereupon they all scattered. However, I was able to retrieve 2 of them and had an accurate description of a third. They were in another class – which also had a sub – and the girl especially denied and denied that she had done anything. But I saw her. I ended up leaving a note for her teacher in the office.

I left a pretty long note to the teacher I subbed for.

The other kids told me that W and J “always act like that.” Whoopee! I don’t know what’s going on at their homes. But it’s hard to be concerned when a kid consistently interrupts and makes rude and disrespectful remarks when I’m trying to teach a lesson. It’s hard to do anything.

June 7, 2017 / sharoncopy

Seating arrangement

Aha! I liked the seating arrangement in the 5th grade class where I worked this morning. With nearly 30 students, classrooms are crowded. I have seen many desk arrangements – some better than others, and some that are just claustrophobic. THIS teacher put all of the desks around the perimeter of the room facing the walls (or cupboards in some areas) and almost all of the seats were giant blue or green balls (her desk seat was a ball on a platform with coasters – quite comfortable as long as I was careful how I sat down). Then, in the center of the room she had a rug, and a variety of “temporary” seating possibilities that the kids could choose, such as: a table with about 8 giant balls around it, a pile of beach-type lounge chairs, a couple of pedaling thingies, a few red wooden chairs, and some stacking cubes. ย  During work time, the kids are free to sit wherever and however they want as long as they are being productive.

The genius here is that they keep their stuff in their desks but they aren’t tied to them the whole day. Some kids like being at their desks facing the bulletin board – it’s more private. Others like the community of the table or just sitting on the floor with a clipboard. It was ROOMY and I’m certain that if she needs anything out of the cabinets that were blocked, it wouldn’t be difficult to slide a couple desks out of the way and get what she needed.

Due to re-structuring, she has to move to another room for next year. Likely she’ll set it up the same way, but too bad for her to have to re-do everything.

June 7, 2017 / sharoncopy

Old Folks Dancing

Tonight I attended a 2 hour concert at the senior residence where my Mom lives. The artist – a man named Barry – was an extremely good guitarist and a very good singer with a wide range of memorized music and a Bose speaker. Most of his playlist tonight was from the 60s and 70s: Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong, Elvis. I don’t think he sang anything I was unfamiliar with – although Mom wasn’t familiar with most of it. Seemed to me he was about a decade off, although many residents are a lot more familiar with music than Mom is. I really enjoyed the concert.

Two really cool things happened. A husband and wife who live there love to dance. After he danced with her, he went around and danced with just about every female resident there – some just in their chairs, but most stood and did what they could handle. He danced with Mom. ๐Ÿ™‚ She stood and moved back and forth during most of a song and he even slowly twirled her around once. She really enjoyed those few minutes and wished that I had brought a camera!

Then a resident with Alzheimer’s – I’m guessing she could have been 90 – with a very vacant look in her eyes toddled across the room to stand right in front of Barry. I could see her face, and her eyes just shone as she listened and she began to dance. She must be a person who has loved dancing because she swung and shook her hips as much as she was able and even twirled herself around once or twice. Her family members seemed quite surprised and happy. I think her name was Donna and she would not be beckoned away for quite a few songs. She watched and danced, and smiled. She moved quite close to the microphone. She seemed to want to say something to him, but I’m not sure he deciphered it. Finally, he closed the small gap between them and leaned over and hugged her tightly and she planted a kiss on his cheek. ย  Eventually her family got her to go back to her table (perhaps 20 minutes or so later?) But when they wanted her to leave the room, she balked and she pointed to Barry. She wasn’t done. She wanted to stay for the rest of the concert. I felt sad when they escorted her out, but I suppose they had to get home to get up and go to work in the morning or something.

The music was like magic, and her enjoyment of it was one of the best parts of the show.