Day 2: It's In The Bag
So, day two has come to a close….and was immediately followed by a grueling three hour commute to Philadelphia thanks to an accident on 78 and a massive tractor-trailer accident on the Turnpike that was literally being swept up by brooms (and that was AFTER I stayed at school until 6 to try to wait out any potential rush hour snag-ups). The cherry on the end of a self-masochism inducing commute was discovering no working internet connection last night while our building is under construction.... Awesome.
Luckily, my actual school day fared much better than the decade spent in my car trying get home to maximize my mini Jewish holiday break. (Thanks for that, Jewish community members!). First of all, I was quite pleased that my class nailed their morning routine on the first try. They immediately went over to the lunch station and signed up for their lunches and put their money in the envelope…then they went to the attendance pocket chart, and turned their absentee cards over to reveal the fact that they all were indeed present. Finally, their belongings were hung on their numbered hooks in an orderly fashion and they returned to their seats and pulled out a book to begin some independent reading. The stoplight stayed green for a couple minutes as they first came in to allow for some unpreventable (and natural) morning chatter and greetings, but soon went to yellow and red once I felt that it was time to settle down.
The rest of the day went very well! I finally discussed the classroom store with them (which nearly sent them shooting out of their chairs in excitement.) They LOVED the Monopoly-style money with my face on it - $1’s, $5’s, $10’s, $20’s, $50’s, and even the elusive $100 bill. And they pelted me with questions about how to earn the money. Note to self: In the future, NEVER AGAIN offer an unnecessarily specific example about how it can be earned…..unless you want it picked apart, expanded upon, reanalyzed, hyper-scrutinized and flat-out obsessed over by eighteen super psyched fourth graders. An off the cuff example I gave about giving a dollar or two to someone who exemplified good character by helping a peer pick up all of the pencils he or she just dropped became “What if we pick up some of the pencils and not all of them?!” …."What if someone drops their books?” ….”What if”…”What if”…”What if” …. “What if Rosh Hashanah could come faster?”, I thought… Nonetheless, they loved it….And they can’t wait to buy the prizes. Btw - I also then felt the need to warn them that I will be able to tell in second if someone purposely stages a similar scene in front of me to get my attention and earn a quick buck.
A big hit were the “Me Bags”. HUGE THANKS to my cousin for the FANTASTIC idea!!! On the first day, I pulled out a brown paper bag filled with five things (that HAVE to fit in the bag) that represent me and tell a little something about who I am. In my bag was a memory card (that symbolized my love of photography), the car token from my Monopoly game (if you know me, my obsession with games is no surprise), a six inch giraffe made out of recycled bicycle parts I bought in Africa (my love of travel and my time teaching abroad), a rock with ripple marks (a geological water feature) I found in Nova Scotia while doing my field study in undergrad, and my iPod (because music is a tremendous part of my life). They loved it! The best part was the resulting discussion...the highlight of which came after talking about the schools in Africa, pointing out Tanzania on the globe, and then inviting my adorable Magdalena (*code name for an even COOLER genuine Nigerian name) to point out her family’s country of origin on the other side of Africa...which then prompted a brief discussion on African culture and society. Success.
Out went eighteen empty “Me” bags to willing hands, and despite a Friday due date, in came about half the class on the second day ready to share their lives. Their enthusiasm and willingness to share couldn’t go unnoticed….so I decided a cool idea would be to take a picture of the contents of each bag from each student and put together a “Me” wall (two of which are on the right). Essentially, we'll have a big wall of "things" that represent the entire make-up of the class! We'll see similarities and differences, common interests and cultural diversity on display every day! Without a name, all eighteen photos will hang there and the students will get their best chance at identifying their classmates based on the symbolic contents alone…perhaps some D’Angelo dollars as a prize? The best prize will probably be mine….because with Back To School Night in less than a week, now the parents can come in and try to identify their child by admiring a giant wall of “Me bag” contents….and now, I have one less thing to stress about when I meet 36 curious-and-ready-to-render-a-judgment-on-my-qualifications parents.
After reading the first chapter of Shiloh to mostly eager ears, I came to the sad realization that after two afternoons in a row of hyper-active children, it only meant I was destined for 178 more…it really is true. They are COMPLETELY different students after lunch and recess. Whoa.... Like, whoa. I tried to humor them by doing fun things like finally discussing and assigning all eighteen class jobs using my homemade job chart cards (thanks sis-in-law for the one job per person idea!), but alas, there are few tricks that I know of just yet that can quell the inevitable pre-adolescent physiological effects of: food + recess + restraint + energy + time of day.
Unfortunately there were two less than perfect moments during my second day teaching. One came in the wake of Doris’ mega-inappropriate comments yesterday after the first day of school….the other came in the form of a very emotionally disturbed nine year old who I will teach every day for science. But rather than pour it all into this post, I’ll save it for this evening…. And I’ll call it “Day 3”…even though day three will actually consist of one part sleeping, one part relaxing and eight parts planning for the week ahead….I’m not Jewish, but I will be the first one to VERY enthusiastically offer an emphatic "L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu!"...Oh, what the heck….”Le'chaim" and "Mazel tov!” too.
at 9:42 AM