(This is from the beginning of this year, as opposed to the others)
A first grader was walking determinedly down the hallway. Our reading coach stopped him and asked him where he was going. “The clinic.” “Oh, what’s the matter?” “I’ve got pukies in my mouth.” “Okay. Carry on.”
We’ve had an epidemic. Custodial cleaned up ten “Code V’s” in one day. Only five students made it to the clinic. The other five? Unknown. But they’re presumed to be primed and extremely dangerous. Do not prod them. Keep your distance.
My morning pretty much started out in a similar vein. A mom brought her daughter in, who was crying, yelling, and clinging. The mom did as she should; basically brought her in the classroom with a few positive words, and tried to escape as her daughter clung to her belt loop. I intercepted, and tried to calm her down, but she wasn’t having it. She was throwing a fit, hyperventilating, and fighting for the door. Hard. I tried to get her to talk, and managed to get an “I want to play with mommy” from her, which was a start. Luckily my aide came in, because I needed help. I mean, this kid was fighting strong. She could be a contender. And my class this year is right next to the exit. Mom would have been gone by this point, and I’m pretty sure this girl would have taken off through the exit trying to find her. I had to physically restrain her from opening the door (fingers and thumbs lightly pinched together over wrists. She can’t break out, but little risk of hurting her. A trick I learned in V.E. Plus the getting her to start talking – less chance of putting herself into a tizzy of hyperventilation). After a brief trade-off with the aide, I call the assistant principal for assistance, and then go back to the student. Meanwhile, the class is stirring quite a bit, and the aide comes up to me, as I’m still trying to calm the student down and keep her from breaking for the door, to inform me that another student has just vomited all over the table.
There’s a morning for you.
As a whole, this class is nothing like what I’m accustomed to. That last bit notwithstanding, I have the high class for the first time, and it’s a completely different animal. There’s way less hair pulling in the beginning, and the kids are still sweet, so the only stress I’m dealing with is how to be a better teacher. Reflecting on what I’m doing that I don’t like, what I want to see change, and then try to figure out how to change it. I have an idea of the first two, still working on the last. There’s a lot of balancing and figuring out at this point. I have to cut down on my talk-time, a lot, and streamline myself, so the students are doing more. I have to determine where exactly everyone is so I can move forward from where they are, as opposed to just following the standard curriculum timetable. I still want resources and structure in place, so I have to make it work for me as well as for them, and though I definitely need to cut back on ‘me’ time (my talking, my stating, my doing) I also don’t want to have chaos in the room. So I’m walking that balancing act. And trying to keep the pukies out of my mouth.