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Had a student today who got his finger stuck inside a test tube. It was really quite stuck. I knew something was up when I saw about 12 different shoulders around the room shaking as they heroically tried to conceal their laughter. This young man’s finger continued to get whiter and whiter right before my eyes.
Remaining calm, I tried to dislodge the tube. Nothing. I suggested he carefully rotate it. It wouldn’t budge. He tried soap and cold water. Still stuck. Meanwhile chaos is breaking out in my class, as my lesson becomes completely derailed. Finally, I sent this wily young man to the office. Our secretaries are miracle workers raising six kids between the two of them. With them in charge, I was completely confident all would be ok.
Forgetting about the lesson du jour, I masterfully got the students back in some degree of order by sharing my own story of getting my knee stuck between the rails of a balcony. Same kind of curiosity, I remembered wondering at the time how far I could thrust my knee between the rails. Inch by inch, I kept pushing and before I knew it, my knee was stuck and swelling right before my eyes and in front of lots of strangers at a popular Las Vegas hotel!
Many of the students listening to my story of humiliation shot up their hands eager to tell their own stories of heads, arms, fingers stuck in places they shouldn’t be. The laughter was refreshing while we waited for finger tube boy to return. We returned to the science lesson on “total internal reflection” careful now to use the equipment properly.
Shortly after he left, the young man reemerges grinning ear to ear, test tube in tack and finger returning to a lovely shade of pink.
I just couldn’t get mad at this kid. He’s only twelve after all. I too got my knee unstuck, but not without a tremendous amount of embarrassment. The excuse for me however, was not youth but sheer stupidity. I was after all 51 years old when this happened.
This happened to a friend of mine. She was on yard duty, and a little kid came up to her looking very serious.
“Miss, so-and-so said the ‘U’ word!” My friend was baffled as to what that word might be, so asked the girl to tell her what the ‘U’ word was.
“No, miss, it’s a very bad word! I’m not allowed to say it!”
“Go on, it’ll be okay. You’re just telling me what the boy said. What’s the ‘U’ word?”
“No, miss! It’s very bad! I can’t say it!”
“Well, how about if you whisper it? What’s the ‘U’ word?”
So my friend leant down, the little girl stretched up and whispered behind her hand: “You motherf#%ker”
Overheard from the back of my year 9 maths class:
“Hey Rachel! Come check this out! Matty’s got darker pubes than Gus, and Gus is a Lebo!*”
Ah, the joys of puberty.
I Can See Better Through the Fog is a storytelling podcast series in the vein of This American Life and the Moth. It tells the ongoing story of an echo boomer’s quarter life crises, featuring life, love, music, and San Francisco. Press the play button below to hear an audio recording of this latest entry or listen to it on iTunes. If it doesn’t work, you may need the latest version of flash software. (). Another troubleshooting tip would be to go directly to the soundcloud website. Sit back and let your ears do the work. The text version of this entry is provided beneath the list of selected tracks.
Runtime: 6 minutes.
Light poured onto a cluster of worn desks. They were all pushed just below the classroom”s large set of back windows. Mr. Allen leaned against a bookshelf beside the cluster. His students were divided evenly into two groups. One group to the left of the cleared room, and the other to the right. He flicked his eyes to the left group, then the right, then called out, “Oh deer!”
Both groups instantly reacted to his signal. Annie, one of his students in the left group, shot her hands up into a triangle above her head. Some kids did the same as Annie, while others mimed two other gestures: cupped hands at their mouths or fingers inside their mouths. Once Mr. Allen was satisfied with what he saw, he shouted, “Find your resource!” The mad rush began. The group on the left darted for the stationary group on the right.
Annie ran across the gap in the classroom. She weaved through the stampeding herd of her classmates, deadset on a peer who held his hands in a triangle above his head like she did. She reached him safely. Annie had survived this round.
“Ok,” Mr. Allen broke in. “The deer who survived and found their needed resource, whether it be water, shelter, or food, go back to the left side. Resources, if you were used, go to the left side, you”re a deer now. You”re the procreation. Deer who didn”t get the resource you needed, stay to the right. You”ve decomposed and are part of the earth. You”re a resource now. Resources who were unused, stay to the right. You”re still a resource.” The class shuffled after absorbing Mr. Allen”s directions. There were more deer now than resources.
It was my last day volunteering in Mr. Allen”s class, at least for this school year. They were playing a game called “Oh Deer”, a lesson on the fluctuation of animal population over time. Mr. Allen wore a broad grin on his face that grew as the game continued.
I looked beyond my teaching mentor at the view of the Golden Gate. The bridge”s two peaks were hidden by the morning fog. It was an unreal sight I”d grown accustomed to seeing every volunteer day.
“Adjusting to your style of teaching took some time,” I told him while the deer began to overpopulate his classroom. “I wasn”t quite sure how to best aid you or the kids until the last couple weeks.” Mr. Allen looked on intrigued. “Your lessons are so engaging and ongoing. You”re either engaged with them as a whole or you have them engaged with each other. It”s so different than most of the teachers I”ve volunteered with. It”s refreshing and I”m better off for experiencing it. I”m excited to come back next year.”
Mr. Allen smiled back at me. “Glad to have you back.” Then he asked, “So, should I introduce the effects of the industrial revolution and pollute the water that exterminates the deer and resources?” His grin grew maniacal. “I guess this game could be applied to humans,” he added. “We”re due for another die off soon. But it”s the end of the school year. Maybe we”ll keep it a little less morbid.”
At this point Mr. Allen was playing god, dictating how many of each resource there could be. The large population of deer began to siphon off. Annie, thus far, remained a deer.
“It must be reassuring that you”ll be teaching 4th graders here again,” I said. Mr. Allen nodded and then responded, “Yeah man. If we didn”t wind up meeting our school-wide fundraising goal, I would”ve been close to the top of the chopping block, since I”ve only been here this year. We just made it, so we get to keep the status quo for next year, at least.”
The deer population slowly dwindled down to one. Annie was now the only deer left standing. She looked across the room at all her classmates. “Oh deer!” Mr. Allen said one last time.
The following story is from my blog http://edudad.com
Yesterday was our school’s annual School Picnic at Saskatoon Island Provincial Park. The weather was gorgeous. The food was great. The kids had a blast. It was awesome!
One of the highlights of the day was “lake dipping” for water-critters. The kids found shrimp, leaches, beetles, and an assortment of other repulsive creatures no one wants to think about before going for a swim.
Amongst all the excitement was a cluster of students around a very impressive collection of shrimp. The water in their bucket was particularly clear.
Mr. H! Mr. H! Check it out! There’s like a hundred shrimp in here!
Wow! That’s disgusting. I had no idea there we so many of these things in the lake.
At that moment, two little shrimp started doing a dance usually reserved for the Discovery Channel.
“Awwww… Look, those two are hugging,” a girl half-whispers naively.
“Hugging?” an overseeing boy says skeptically, ”I don’t think so.”
In a room full of autistic boys, you need to be ready for anything.
It was one of those days, and two of my boys got into an altercation. It quickly turned physical and we had to pull them away from each as they went at each other. I quickly called security. No response. I called the office. They couldn’t locate him. Finally, I ran into the FRA. “Do you know where Mr. C is? I have a crisis and need him now.” The FRA: “He went home to change his shirt. I guess one of your other boys blew his nose on Mr C’s sleeve during lunch so he went home to change.”
Fantastic. I had to go inform my kids to stop fighting until our security guard came back from his wardrobe change.
I teach a classroom of all autistic boys, some nonverbal, some higher functioning. This particular incident happened with one who has limited verbal ability.
I witness C spontaneously hit another student unprovoked. I go over to him with a stern face. “That is not nice. Hitting hurts. Hands down in your pockets. Hitting makes people sad because that hurts and people don’t like to get hurt. You will say sorry to your friend and I don’t want to see anymore hitting. Do you understand?”
C (very loudly with a grin on his face): “Bowling ball.”
Clearly he got the message.
Back when I was resource special ed, I had a caseload of kindergarteners and first graders. What a year that was…..
One of my 6 year old, nonverbal ID girls ran out of my classroom during a session. She thought it was the funniest thing in the world to run down our dead end hallway and hide in the bathroom around the corner. I calmly walked out of the room and went after her, taking my time since she would particularly look for me to run after her and give chase. Suddenly, there’s an uproar of screaming and laughter coming from one of the 4th grade classes right next to the bathroom. Several of the teachers come to their doors as I still calmly walked down the hall. My little youngster came running full sprint around the corner, pigtails flying, from the bathroom with her pants, underwear, and everything around her ankles, laughing hysterically. “Yep”, I called to the other teachers poking their heads out “that would be one of mine.”
student: “Ms. S, my hand hurts from writing.”
me: “and my ear hurts from your complaining. finish your work.”
miraculously, he survived the day.