Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bathroom Humor

      As a kindergarten/Young 5's teacher I'm blessed to have two restrooms in my classroom, but sometimes two just isn't enough.  Each evening when our saintly custodian cleans them he  leaves the seat up.   He then props open the door with a wedge. Each morning as I enter the classroom I flip on the restroom lights, with really high switches, I remove the door stop and I put the seat down.  Midyear I neglected part of my usual routine.  As a kinder went into use the toilet she came out and  announced wide-eyed, "there's a man in the girl's bathroom!"  When I went in to investigate I found the undeniable evidence of male presence; the seat was up!
     This year I'm teaching Young 5's.  Waiting for every child to use the restroom, with a huge preoccupation on how badly they NEED to go, takes forever and could have dire consequences,  until the children relax on this issue we use the galley restrooms in the first grade wing.  In a few weeks we're safely and calmly using our classroom for all our toileting needs.
      Yesterday we arrived to find our daytime custodian, Mr. Steve cleaning the boys room and a wet floor sign sat in front the girls.  I asked if we should go to the other facilities in the middle of the school.  He assured me he was just finishing.  I sent 3 girls in to use the toilet, and 3 boys in to use the boy's.  When I noticed one girl not going in a stall she said, "there's a boy in there!"  "No there's not I replied as I shooed her into another stall.  "Mr. Steve just cleaned for us."  This year I knew the mind of a 5 year old!
     A little later as she exited and I checked to see how many more girls I should send in the next wave, I saw a locked stall, I asked the same girl I'd spoken to earlier to crawl back under and unlock the stall.  I assumed she'd left crawling under the door.  "NO!" she answered, "there's a boy in there!" Smiling knowingly, I made a show of  checking the floor for feet. No feet.  "There's not..." Wait, way back in the corner, were those feet?
     Thinking one of my girls was hiding I said, using my best teacher voice, "unlock this door."  Sniffles. "Come on, open up, your friends need to use the bathroom."  Sobs, and the door slowly opened.  Head hanging, chest heaving a young boy exited.
"Why are you in here I asked?  "I don't want to talk about it."  he gasped between sobs.  He was clearly mortified"  "What happened?" I asked crouching down, I thought he'd wandered into the wrong room, after all it was only day 4 of school.
"I had to go really, really bad, and Mr. Steve was taking a long time," he began to cry harder yet.  All those girls' eyes watching him was making him even more upset.  I put my arm around him as I  walked him back down the hall toward his room to reassure his teacher he wasn't in trouble, and to give an explanation I'd have to make without laughing.  As his teacher complimented him on his smart thinking on avoiding an accident I herded my flock back to my room reminding myself to never assume anything, ever again!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11

On September 11,  I was student teaching in 2nd grade.  Mid morning the principal came to each room tell us what had happened.  At the time I don't think I even realized what the Trade Center was.  At lunch we gathered around the staff room tv.  Our usually chatty group silent.

The school opted to not mention the attack to the elementary students, but slowly during the day parents came to pick up their children.  During the afternoon many children left school While no mention of the attack was made, the student body picked up on the staff anxiety and many negative behaviors happened.  At the end of the day a short statement was made so the children wouldn't be exposed to new information on the bus ride home because all our grade levels ride the same buses.

My own children were in middle school and high school at the time.  Our son had visited New York City the year before.  The differences in my children's reaction was  difficult to manage.  Amy, a middle schooler had seen the news coverage at school and was upset.  She did not want to listen or hear any more of the news.  Brad, was horrified, yet couldn't turn away from the news.  He came home from school and sat in front of the tv.  Frustrated by the lack of answers he kept switching between stations, and even moved a smaller tv into the room so he could have information from two or three stations on at once.  This raised Amy's tension even higher.  She spent most of the evening avoiding the TVs.
My husband was on the last day of a business trip to Cancun Mexico.  He had seen the coverage from the Miami news stations.  He'd been 4 or 5 days and we were already very ready for him to come home. We were hopeful he'd still return the next day.

The lawn needed to be mowed so I went out and rode the riding mower for a couple of hours.  I now see this as my needing to be alone to process the situation, and unfortunately  I isolated myself from the children's hugely differing needs and conflict.

Over the next days my husband was grounded in Mexico.  His trip was extended indefinitely.  He, and his boss and the travel staff went to the airport every morning and they would be told to go back to the resort because the flights were not leaving. Since the resorts had no new customers flying in the comped the rooms for the group.  Day after day they'd arrive early and after waiting several hours they'd go back to their rooms.  At one point the group he was traveling with even explored renting a car and driving out of the country.  He was scheduled to leave again for Canada within a few days, a trip that would later be canceled due to the length of their first trip, and their reluctance to fly again once they finally arrived home.

I remember as I rode the lawn mower feeling very sorry for myself.  The kids were fighting, I was in the middle of student teaching and my husband was gone.  While I was frustrated by all that, I knew that at some point my husband would come home.  I sadly lay awake that night thinking of all the  families whose loved ones had died, thinking of the mothers who would be left to raise children alone.  Thinking of the children mourning their fathers and mothers.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy New Year!

I think one of my favorite things about teaching is the chance to have a new start twice a year.  In September we’re all freshly tanned and well rested from our summer break.  I go back to school with personal goals and feel empowered by the professional reading I’ve done in the summer.  In January we all have a party to bid the old year goodbye, and with a new year, we celebrate with resolutions and changes.  While I usually don’t change a lot in my classroom and teaching midyear I still love the new feeling.
Today as I celebrated a new year of teaching I have made some resolutions:
1 To work less.  I’m not sure how this is going to happen, but I’m not willing to put in 12 hour days at school.  I’m hopeful that not teaching a split grade class will help with this.
2   To find me.  I’ve purposely worked at reconnecting with an old friend.  I’m going to take time to meet with her and rekindle our friendship.
3   To make time for me.  I’m very seriously looking at getting some help cleaning the house. 

    To make me healthier.  I’m going to plan and shop for better foods.  I’ll consider deleting at least one pizza place from my contacts.