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Sweet Things and Sour Things

Tabitha Helms

It was Back to School Night last night, so I got to hear all sorts of sweet things that my kids have been doing at home related to school. I love to hear those stories. Here's some favorites: ___________ says she wants to be you. She told us to call her "Miss Neal" the other day.

___________ said when she grows up she wants to sing 'just like Miss Neal.'

___________ said (about the power outage) "I just don't know why we can't have school. We can do it on the grass, or on the playground." Grandma responded, "Oh, well these are some great ideas, I'll put them into the principal for you." "You better tell Miss Neal too."

People who work in extended care or in the office are always reporting what they've heard from parents too. It's nice encouragement:

___________'s mom was talking to me today saying what an amazing job you're doing. She's amazed at how her daughter comes home reciting the memory verses, and she was so excited that her daughter not only does that but she comes home showing her sign language you've taught her in class too.

____________ thinks you're an awesome teacher. She thinks you're absolutely wonderful at what you're doing.

I don't know if all teachers get these kinds of reports, or if it's because most of the kids in my class are firstborns and this education experience is new to parents. But I'm not complaining. I love the encouragement!

Fun story of the day: For 9/11 we make cookies and cards and send them over to the fire station and sheriff's department. We planned to do it on Friday, but I didn't have time to do anything in my class. Then we had the power outage and school was canceled. So we postponed the cookies and cards to Tuesday. I was planning to have my kids make cards on Monday, but with the day off on Friday we had too much catching up to do. So I made time for it Tuesday morning. Originally, when we talked about bringing things on Friday, the 7th and 8th graders were going to be walking them over at the end of the day, so I thought I had until the end of the day Tuesday.

I saw cookies on the counter in the office this morning, and in my first morning block made time for my kids to color pictures of the flag while I read them the book, September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right. It's written by first graders in Missouri. It's a beautiful book, talking about how they knew that even when scary things happened it was all right because they still went to school, had homework, were tucked into bed, said the pledge, everyone's favorite colors were red, white, and blue, and other sweet things complete with 1st grade artwork. I happened to have one of these books in my closet from the previous teacher in that classroom. I looked it up online and these books are selling for $40! I wouldn't give it away though. I thought it was the perfect way to talk about September 11th with young kids...telling them that something sad happened in our country and a lot of people were hurt. But on that day there were a lot of brave people who helped like firemen and policemen. So today we were going to make thank you cards for them and send some pumpkin bread (I had no time to make cookies) lol. As soon as first recess time came at 9:15, I packaged them all up and brought them to the office.

But the other cookies were gone. "Oh no! Did I miss it?!" Apparently my principal had already taken them over in the morning. I missed it by like 20 minutes! Now what was I supposed to do, I asked. The secretaries agreed that I should take it over after school, you never know, my next Prince Charming just might be located there! I was shocked they said it, but at the same time not at all surprised. The only other young, unmarried teacher just got married last week. I'm the next bait.

Later in the day when I was popping in to check my mailbox, the office ladies told me that when the principal was told of the situation, her response was, "Oh yeah, Tabitha should bring it over there; there's a really good looking fireman on duty!" Oh goodness. I said I was surprised she said that because she was the one that told me I was going to be very glad I was single this year. I already have a limited social life, I understand why it's a good thing right now. I told them I didn't want to marry a fireman, he had to live at the fire station and run into burning buildings. My heart couldn't take it.

Regardless, I popped over to the fire station after school. The front door was locked however, so I couldn't drop it off. Me and Mr. Dreamy are apparently not meant to be. ;)

Crazy story of the day: I sent a kid to the office.

We were taking our first math test. (That was a crazy adventure by itself!) A student lost a marble for talking and not following directions. She told the girl next to her that it wasn't really her marble that was taken, it was the other girls. A fight was about to break loose; I saw it in my head, "No, it wasn't!" "Yes, it was!" "Nuh uh." "Yeah huh." I interjected before it went anywhere, that it was indeed her marble I took because she wasn't following the rules. She yelled, "No!" and scooted away from the table, crossing her arms and refusing to do any more work. I asked her to scoot in and pick up her pencil. She threw the pencil at me and tried to hit me. I told her that was not a good choice, and we never threw things in class. She got up and walked to the back of the room and sat on the floor with her blanket from her cubby and stuck her thumb in her mouth.

I gave the class their next oral instruction for the test, then moved the student's pencil box and crayons to a different table. This is called the "alone zone," it's the second step of my discipline plan. I told her to sit there and work from that table the rest of the day. She sat there but refused to pick up her pencil and work; she spilled her crayons instead and wouldn't pick them up when asked. Instead she scribbled with orange crayon all over her math test.

I gave the class another instruction and then saw a pencil fly across the room, barely missing another student. I told her that was inappropriate and she was not doing well to earn marbles in class like she's supposed to. I took away a couple marbles saying it was for throwing things. I gave the class another instruction. She left her seat and climbed up onto my tall, rolling seat, which she knows she's not supposed to be sitting on. She refused to get down when asked. I took her hand and helped her down, then moved her chair to the center of the carpet so I could supervise her more closely while trying to direct my class in their test. I asked her if she wanted to go talk to the principal. She shook her head firmly, but continued attempting to leave her seat and not be where she was supposed to. I stood next to her giving instructions to the class while holding her hand so that she stayed seated. She fought me, attempting to grab hold of my dress and pull. I told her I couldn't let go until I knew I could trust her to do what she was supposed to do.

The problem became that students had questions about the test, and I had to go help them individually, leaving my trouble student. On one such occasion, she got up and shoved another girl then hit her with her blanket for no reason. I got her to sit down, and then called the office. She was not listening, and it was distracting to the class who was continually watching in horror at the girl who defiantly disobeyed me. We were unable to complete our test in the atmosphere that we needed.

She was picked up by the secretary and stayed in the office for the rest of the day. She talked to the principal. I sent home a note, and called her mom to give her a heads up. The principal said if it happens again then the parents will need to meet with her and she has been warned about having a suspension.

I was so relieved when she wasn't in my room anymore, and I could tend to my entire flock of children again. I ignored the throb of my head and the exhaustion of my emotions that I had done my best to reign in during this interaction. I sincerely hope I do not have these tantrums every week. We're two for three right now. We counted on the calendar today; we've only been in school for 9 days....