Alas, it was another difficult morning.
Most of the hour I had before school started I was at a tech meeting in the computer lab, where we learned how to do a behavior screener on each child. I got all mine done — which was good — but only with lots of technical glitches, which was not so good. Everyone on the staff is frustrated, because the tech people at the district level instituted a lot of changes which have made using our computers an exercise in frustration, or even rage. I doubt that the district techies made the changes in order to make our lives harder, but that is the end result, and they have been ignoring our media specialist, who keeps going to them with all the problems we’re having.
One teacher stood up and made an impassioned plea to all of us to document our struggles in letter form, and turn them in for the media specialist to take to her meeting at the district level later this week. Hooray! So even though I had a ton to do back in my room, I sat down and wrote furiously.
I was finishing up my letter when an assistant teacher came in with his son, whose first day was today. I greeted them warmly, but I was thinking, “Ack! I’ve only got ten minutes before I have to open the door!” I asked them if they wouldn’t mind waiting in the hall, and then ran around the room setting out journals and pencils and crayons.
Arrival time went fine, although the new boy was confused and needed my help to figure out our routines, and one boy was back after a week’s absence and didn’t know about the journals. (He was out recovering from having his appendix removed. His sister brought him to me, showed me the bandage on his abdomen, and said, “nobody can punch him in the stomach,” and I said, “of course not,” but inside I was thinking, “how am I going to keep this kid safe?!”)
About five kids were wearing red for our celebration of Red Day, which was kind of disappointing. I think a lot of the parents are not reading my newsletter. Perhaps they don’t even open the folder!
We got to gym class no problem, and I had my appendicitis boy sit out so he wouldn’t get hurt, then went to find a translator to explain to him that he was NOT in trouble, we were just trying to keep him safe.
Most of my prep time I spent in the kindergarten room next door, in my role as a teacher mentor, because the K teacher had asked me to come observe the behavior in her room and help her figure out how to manage it better. I took diligent notes but while I was there her class was very well behaved and she did a terrific job leading them through calendar time and through a story.
When I picked up the class from gym Nan told me that it had gone really well and that everyone had been good. That did not last, unfortunately.
Back in the room I tried to get them excited about red day, and showed them all sorts of red things I own because red is my favorite color, but David said, “why are you being all silly?” and none of the class seemed all that engaged. Then when Nan was going to set up centers for me, David grabbed my stuff, ripped some papers, and then headed out the door at top speed, punching Max in the face on the way. So Nan was gone, and I was on my own, trying to explain the different color-themed centers, set them up, and help the children choose and put their clothespins in the right places on the pocket chart.
Max went to house corner, where he, Trixie, and another boy and girl all started fighting and tussling over baby dolls and dinner plates, and all ended up having to leave. Then Max chose blocks, but wouldn’t actually go there, and kept asking the little boy, “where do you want to go? Do you want to go to blocks with me?” The boy clearly didn’t want to be with Max anymore, but I couldn’t get Max to get started on the blocks so the boy could decide where to go next. Next thing I knew, Max and the boy and Trixie were all fighting over clothespins, and Max was pushing them and knocked down the centers pocket chart.
I put him in time out but he started screaming “I want to go to blocks!” and tried to hit, kick, and scratch me. He succeeded in drawing blood on my forearm.
The new boy kept switching centers without moving his clothespin, so I tried to help him, but he didn’t get it. He went over to the puzzle shelf and knocked over five puzzles, whether on purpose or by accident, I couldn’t tell. I spent a long time on the floor trying to put the puzzles back together, during which time Nan returned with a calm David (who started working on our red collage in art), and went out with a still-screaming Max. While she was in the hall he ripped down a poster, scratched her arm and drew blood, and kicked her in the shin so hard he broke the skin.
I could tell we wouldn’t have time for recess, so I started clean-up time, which made Max out in the hall scream louder than ever. Finally, everyone sat down, and Max returned calm (Nan is still a miracle worker), and I read Red Is Best, a great story about a little girl who feels the same way I do about the color red. But only part way through David suddenly punched the boy next to him and ran out of the room….
…And no, there wasn’t any time during the morning when I felt that things were going well.