Monday, April 04, 2011

Days of Solomon

It's been so nice to go into this week of spring break. I have been looking forward to it! Music is playing right now while I go about normal household routines that have been greatly neglected. Right now, just Keva and Keegan are in the house with me. Keri Lynn is in school. Kristofer is at a friend's house. Kathleen is on a trip to North Carolina with a group of girlfriends. Kylie and Kade are outside playing with a friend. Konner is at a friend's house where he spent the night. Four kid were out of the nest just last night, everyone enjoying their free time.

I have a ton of things to get done, though. Not the least of which is applying for teaching jobs. Supposedly, there are a few openings right in the county where I am student teaching. My cooperating teacher is hoping to move up to high school, so I am gunning for HIS job! I also need to complete a big school project called the teacher work sample which I will also be able to use going into job interviews. It's basically a notebook of what I did during my two week solo.

Up until last Thursday, I was feeling pretty confident about my teaching time, that is until Thursday afternoon, last period of the day. The hardest class to handle. I was by myself because my cooperating teacher had re-injured a bad knee and was out for the day. The kids were really ready to get out of school. We were starting our spring break on Friday rather than Monday for a longer spring break. Mistake #1: I thought that I could grade their re-test that they had just completed in class while class was going, just as I had in the three classes before. Mistake #2: I continued to grade papers while kids started throwing little balls of paper at each other. Mistake #3: Trying to find out who was throwing the little balls of paper by myself, not getting help from the office, because paper turned to orange Tic Tacs. Mistake #5: Feeling a little like King Solomon, I said that, since I couldn't spot who was throwing the balls of paper, I would give The Dreaded Silent Lunch to whoever got HIT by the paper, with the idea being that whoever got hit was probably part of the group throwing the paper and Tic Tacs.

So one kid stands up in the back of the class with a Tic Tac ready to aim at someone and says, "Mrs. Johnson, you mean if I throw this, that person I hit is going to get Silent Lunch?"

I nod sagely.

He pauses, looks at his hand and then sits down. I'm thinking I am SO SMART! Then "Owwwww!"

"Mrs. Johnson, he threw that at me!"

I'm still trying to salvage the moment, "No, he missed you."

I quickly get up to the front of the class, putting the grading aside for good, to announce to the class that my "King Solomon" declaration has just been revoked! Too late! They are all throwing whatever they can get their hands on. Total pandemonium. I start giving Silent Lunch left and right. I get them settled down again.

"Okay, Class, who is throwing the Tic Tacs? I am telling Mr. D (the cooperating teacher) all about this."

They all throw Allen under the bus. He's the class clown and has already admitted to throwing the paper wads but not the Tic Tacs. Allen gets REALLY ANGRY and uses some choice words.

Gloriously, the bell for car riders rings and I am saved. But not before Allen uses more choice words and storms out into the hallway. He really should be written up for this. And only seconds of class time left!

I am about to tell Allen to go with me to the teacher across the hall who is known for being pretty mean.

"Oh, no," says Allen, "You are not taking me to Mrs. Robinson."

That's when I see the hurt in his eyes. He is trying desperately to not cry. My heart breaks.

"Allen, wait. Look at me," and he does and my heart breaks again, " We are not going to see Mrs. Robinson."

"But I'm the only one getting in trouble!"

"Oh, no! I've got a whole list. You did tell me you were throwing paper. Maybe you weren't throwing the Tic Tacs, but you were part of it. Rest assured, you are NOT the only one getting into trouble when Mr. D. comes back."

And then everyone was lining up for bus and out the door and gone. Just like that. I just felt terrible about the whole class period. Thus why I am a student teacher, I guess, but I still felt badly for Allen and for so many other kids like him who get chewed up and spit out by their own classmates who they are trying so very hard to impress. Especially Allen who is so smart and capable but gets trapped in worldly concerns.

It took me several days to shake off that class period. I know that some days will be better than others, but I really need to stay humble and ready to learn some more. There is no "having arrived" as a good teacher. There is always something to learn, and it is such a huge responsibility to be in charge of those kids, because even though they are big-time eighth graders, they are still children. Children doing a lot of adult things, granted, but children nonetheless.

Lord, give me wisdom like Solomon. Really like Solomon.

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