If you have ever been to my classroom, you know that I have a gorgeous, bright red, first grader-sized bathtub. It was quite the find. I used to have a second job (I still don't know how I lived through THREE years of working an additional four hours each night after teaching for six+ hours! But, that's a different post for another day) at Bath and Bodyworks. Every so often, we had to "purge the props" to make room for new props...and, I LOVED that part of the job.
Anyway, I had my eye on this tub for several months. I'd hint that I wanted to buy it. I set myself a budget that the most I would ever pay for it would be $100. Like I mentioned earlier, it is a brilliant red tub. The plastic (acrylic?) is about two inches thick. And the best part? It sits on four silver claw feet! I loved it. I mean, really loved it. And I wanted it. When the time came to finally get rid of it, my manager knew how badly I wanted it for my classroom. She told me it was mine...are you ready for this?...for $5.00!! Yes, just a fiver. I was ecstatic!
It has been sitting in my classroom ever since. I put a body pillow, another smaller bright pink pillow, my childhood Holly Hobbie doll, and an Arthur doll that speaks when you squeeze his tummy. Also, a couple of years ago, the grandma of one of my students made a little ABC blanket with crocheted edging especially for the tub. So cute.
Every week, I pick an aviator. You know, the STAR student. That student not only gets to sit in a special old fashioned desk, but can read in the tub and even do their math pages if they choose. This bathtub is BIG TIME for the children. And, I suppose for ME as well.
While correcting the Math pages today I had a "special" experience. In my classroom, the children stand in line, holding their math pages, waiting for me to correct them and do a little individual assessment on the go.
Things were going well when, what to my wondering ears should hear...
"OH MY HELL!!"
I looked up and asked the boy to which this phrase was directed, "Did she just say what I think she just said?"
Boy: She said "Oh my h-e-l-l."
Cybil: What?? A person can't say "Oh my HELL at school?" That's dumb.
Me: Oh honey. Come with me.
A call was made to her dad. During the call she happened to say "So, you mean we can't say "Oh my Hell at school OR oh my God? That's so stupid." (We had already had a talk a couple of weeks ago about the second offense.)
At the end of the day, I went outside to her mom's car an knocked on her window. When she rolled it down I said "Oh my Hell. I wish you'd stop swearing at home." She laughed. She said she was sorry. Ya...right.
(Yes, I said "Hell" four times in this post...make that five!)
Before I got out of my car to go into the school this morning, I said a prayer. I asked my Heavenly Father to help me do just ONE thing today. That one thing was to speak with a soft voice the entire day. Not that I ever yell or raise my voice but it does tend to get a little loud. It was hard but I did it. And, you know, it made a difference that everyone felt...especially me. Try it sometime. My students now know that I, like President Teddy Roosevelt, can walk softly and carry a big stick!
Things are looking up. I have come to realize that "Cybil" is in need. She needs me to be a solid foundation for her. She needs someone to be patient. I'll try super hard not to be a drama queen. :) I'll still be firm when she needs it but...my heart has softened. I may even like that little girl. (It's a given that I love her, but liking someone is a whole new level from "love". Does that make sense?) Thank you for your comments. I really do appreciate you all. They were too kind.
Oh boy. What a day I had. I hate it when I have days like this. Days that make me question my career choice. I mean, how could I...a 47 year old woman who has taught for 24 years...still ask myself if I made the right choice to become a teacher? But I do question it when some days turn disastrous...sometimes. Today was one of those times.
It started out like any other Monday in First Grade. Kids came in. Hugs. Hellos. Notes from parents. Giddy chatter about fun things that happened on the weekend. Late homework turned in. 8:30. 9:00. 9:30. 9:45...BOOM! It hits. My little student whom I will call "Cybil" (not her real name), came moseying in from her intervention group.
Me: Cybil, I'd like you to do your ABC center. Don't worry about the other ones. Just do that one today.
Me: Because you only have 15 minutes.
(Walks to her box. Hands in pockets. Looking around room. Looks in everyone else's box. Winds around every table. Yawns. Stops to admire Zoe's hair ribbon)
Me: You better hurry, your time's running out.
Cybil: I don't know what to do.
I explained it all over again. Now there were about five minutes left.
Me: Cybil, I need you to do your work now.
Cybil: Should I just guess.
Me: You can guess but you'll have to redo it.
(Even as I write this I realize that it probably sounds lame to you but it is real life for me. Normally, I wouldn't have been so adamant that she finish it if it wasn't such a reoccurring DAILY scene. Plus, she had problems last week at recess. Me: Cybil, did you hit Marley? Cybil: No, I didn't hit her...I PUNCHED her!)
Now it was 10:00 and she hadn't even started. All the other children had finished and were "at the rug." I had her finish or miss recess until it was done (I NEVER do that. NEVER. I hated myself for even using that threat.) BINGO! "recess" was the magic word. Her assignment was done in 5 minutes flat.
(Are you still with me?)
After recess. I'm feeling a headache coming on. I dismiss it...I don't have TIME for headaches!
I gave an awesome lesson about "Do" and "Go" past tense forms. (Past Tense VERB forms for first graders! I know. Don't get me started about our Reading program. Seriously!) Every child got right to work on the practice portion of the lesson. That is, all but, Cybil. Just repeat the previous encounter, and you'll have the scene. I could feel myself losing patience. I was losing it fast and I realized that there were 19 other sets of eyes watching me slowly sink into Mrs. Trunchbull. I could tell that they wanted their teacher back. You know the one. The one I usually am: fun, loving, sweet, patient. I sort of hated myself for the feelings I was feeling and for my bubbling frustration.
I decided right there that I needed to take a step back. Rather than let my class see me get more and more frustrated over one child, I would remove myself and Cybil from the situation. I had her pick up her paper and pencil and follow me out the door. I remembered to turn off my microphone (thank goodness) before giving my lecture. You know the one..."I expect a lot more out of you!" "I expect you to do the same things as the other children." "I don't appreciate it when you roll your eyes at me and shout "OH MY G__" every time I ask you to do something."
Then she dropped the bomb on me. She said:
"UUrrrghhh! You're such a drama queen?"
I know!! I was absolutely cracking up in my head but that was not a proper response in this situation. I took her by the hand and quietly led her to the office. All the way she was whining, "I'm soooorrrry! I'm sooorrrrry! I'm sooorrrry!" Then, I left her there. I LEFT HER THERE!! I can't believe I gave up! I gave up! What kind of teacher AM I??
The rest of the day, I fell into the depths of despair. I had lost. I have always prided myself in the fact that I never take students to the office. I never use the LRR (Least Restrictive Room)...and I've taught FIFTH GRADE!! Never. And here it was. A six year old had bested me. Rather than feeling triumphant, I felt defeat. I felt like a first year teacher all over again. I can't even type this without tears in my eyes and shame in my heart. I don't want to go back.
Cybil did return to class after lunch. (A lunch she refused to eat because it was "gross") I will say that she returned very repentant. She participated in Math and did every problem. After Music, she told me that she had a crush "on Jason, the new kid." I even got a hug good bye.
I guess my biggest fear is that my students will see me when I am feeling and acting like someone I'm not. When everyday starts to feel that way for me...I need to quit. I can't even imagine feeling dread everyday to return to a job I grew to hate. It's hard to believe that people really DO hate teaching yet return day in and day out for years and years. Rest assured, I am far FAR FAR! from those feelings. However, every so often, a day like today shows up and rears it's ugly head. It gives me pause to review my strengths as an educator. My strength as a person. Of why I chose this profession. Reflection can be a blessing.
I absolutely loved this book. Perhaps it is the Canadian-living-in-the-states self talking here, but it made me long for my home in Southern Alberta. Growing up, my father was the maintenance supervisor for the schools in the area. This included the school at two or three of the Hutterite colonies in the area. He would often take me with him on his visits to the colonies. I loved it there and was mesmerized by every nuance of the colony. The baking bread, the chickens roaming free, the homes, the smells, the polka-dots, the braids. I loved going with him. My mother made trips as well. We would often go to purchase eggs, knitted booties and slippers, pick up newly upholstered furniture, and chickens. Every time, we were invited into someone's home to sit down for a visit. Secretly, I wanted to BE a Hutterite just so I could twist my hair back and put on a handkerchief. This book was a trip home for me and I adored it. Mary Ann Kirby is a gifted writer who was able to capture growing up on the colony and later outside of the colony in a way I will not soon forget. I can't wait to make the drive to Canada this summer and visit a colony.
Reading Right Now...
The Alloy of Law: The fourth book in the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. Something tells me it isn't going to have the same effect on me as the trilogy!
The Kitchen House
Just Finished Reading
Oh my goodness! I owe Jessica Romney a HUGE thank you for recommending this series. I was skeptical at first. But, am so glad I chose to give the Mistborn series a try. Brandon Sanderson is an amazing author. I am now open to a new genre...fantasy. This series though, had even more than fantasy. I felt some strong spiritual undertones throughout this particular (#3) book. I even got a little "misty" at the end. I loved these books. Thanks, Jessica. I owe you and will never question your recommendations again! :)
Also Just Finished Reading...
The author, Sue E. Peterson, is a friend of mine. She sent me this book shortly after the heartbreaking loss of my own husband. It had many wonderful points for me to consider as I read about death and making sense of a new/different life. I appreciated so much of what she said and the metaphors regarding "running" throughout the book. I've never read a book by an author I know (and know very well) personally. Nor, have I read a story based on a person I know and have had conversations with. It was an odd feeling in some respects. Reading different names for each character and each setting sort of messed with my brain a bit. Finally, I put that out of my mind and read with the purpose of gleaning insight about losing a spouse and recovery from grief. I have many turned down pages I'd like to revisit as a result. Thanks for the book, Sue!