Friday, September 24, 2010

Lice is NOT nice

'Tis the season for....lice. Actually, lice season is August - May, so maybe we should be rejoicing on the days when it isn't lice season. This year, we lost our full-time school nurse. She was supremely fab, and knew all the kids and all the fakers. And she would check my head when I was totally creeped out. But because we do not have a high risk student at our school (i.e. a diabetic, student with a physical disabilty, etc) she was re-located and now we, a school of 800 plus children, gets a nurse either Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday and Thursday, depending on the week. Awesome. of the totally fab teachers at my school was notified that a kid in her class had lice. So she told the nurse, who was there that day. She was fully expecting the nurse to say "OK, bring your kids in for a head check". Instead, she was told that doing a head check was "Not a priority" and that she "might get to it in the next two or two and half hours, if at all". WHAT? SERIOUSLY? WE ARE TALKING PESTILENCE, PEOPLE! But, I guess that is the new policy. Love them budget cuts. I just kept thinking to myself "This cannot be good."
       Fast forward to today. I saw a class on the sidewalk. There were about 9 kids in the class. I said to the teacher "Where is the rest of your class?" She told me that four were testing, but that five (FIVE) had just been sent home because of lice. Mr. L will now be checking my head. Every. Single. Night. ew.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The New Kids

I have begun this year afraid that I would have no "personalities" in my class. I am used to big personalities. Those not sure of what I mean need only to look back at the past year. But a new year, new kids. This year has been relatively quiet. So far. I was content to ride it out in peace. Today, there is a glimmer of hope. Bug Boy from last year came to visit me today. I pulled him next to me and said "See? He's in fifth grade! People do survive this class"

Without missing a beat, I hear
"Is he the only one?"

Things are looking up.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dirty Harry aka Bad Boy

Yes, I know, it's been a long time. Such is life when one reaches this time of year, but I have been saving things up and so plan on some more regular postings. At this time of year, when there are only 11 days left of school, everyone goes a little nuts. The kids, the teachers, even the administration. Last week, they were suspending kids left and right, although when you have 2 fourth-graders who pee in the garbage can, you really have no choice, right? In my own little kingdom, the jesters have taken over and I am in danger of being de-throned.

Last week, Drama Boy comes up and tells me that he is off his medication and probably will be for the rest of the year. Trying to keep the panic from my voice, I replied "WHAT?!?!" He nodded and grinned at me. Now let me state right now that I am not normally in favor of medicating kids. I think we do it waaayyyyy to often with kids, especially boys. But in this case, the medication keeps DB from crawling around under the tables and cutting and eating his own hair (which he did the last time he was off his meds.) So when he announced this stunning development, I can only hope that my eyes remained in place and did not bug out of my head. Turns out he is a little underweight (the meds really kill his appetite) and so the Dr. wants him off them so he can gain a few pounds. Perfectly reasonable, but the man could not have waited two weeks? REALLY?!?!?!?!

By the second day of DB medication-free, the choices were down to either he goes or I do. I would have preferred to leave, but it's frowned upon to leave 23 9-year-olds un-supervised, so I told Bad Boy (who has been remarkably awesome lately) to take him to Mrs. K's room. Get him a clipboard with his work and go. Now. BB, DB and a partner were gone almost 25 minutes. When they came back, we had this conversation:

Mrs. L: Where have you guys been!?
BB: (sighs, shakes his head and looks at me) Well, Mrs. L., about halfway there, DB decided he did not want to go anymore. So I had to pick him up and carry him. And you know how he's little and really skinny? Let me tell you, he gets heavy after a while.
Mrs. L: You carried him?!  How? (keeping in mind that BB is one of the smallest kids in the class as well)
BB: Yeah! Like this (indicates a fireman's carry) What else was I supposed to do?
Mrs. L: (really slowly) Ummm....what happened then?
BB: I had to throw him into Mrs. C's room!
Mrs. L: Oh. OK...... Wait! I told you to take him to Mrs. K's room!
BB: I know, but she's too nice, and he needed to learn a lesson.
Mrs. L: (looking stunned) Umm yeah, ...great, thanks, ok.

So apparently, I need not make any decisions anymore...justice can be meted out by a 9 year old.

After a conversation with Mrs. C at which she expressed surprise at having DB in her room and confirming that yes, indeed, he had been carried and then tossed into the room like a sack of Idaho spuds, she asked BB why he put DB in her room. The reply?

BB: Mrs. K is too nice, and I knew you were already in a bad mood, so I thought it was better this way.
Mrs. C: Oh.

11 days, friends. 11 days.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Stream, A River, A Lake

OK! I know it has been, like, a month since I wrote anything, but friends, let me tell you....state testing time is no joke! We have successfully weathered the storm and I am thrilled to be able to tell you that Spring Break is right around the corner. WHOO-HOO!!! Because after that, folks, we have nine weeks left.
 My kids all took the state tests, and now, I can finally begin all of the fun stuff that happens in fourth grade. I kept promising them it was coming, and now it is here!!!!!!
However, allow me to tell you all that has transpired in the last month.

Friends, I promise to hit the highlights, but first of all I want to know what $&#*$(%)$ bureaucrat decided that during testing, it would be OK to have thousands of nine-year-olds sit still for a minimum of 70 minutes. Seriously. They take the test and then they have to sit there. Theoretically it gives them time to check their work several times, go back over things, etc. But I don't know ADULTS who can sit silent and still, staring into space, for at least 70 minutes. Do you? SOOOOOO frustrating. Most of the kids actually end up falling asleep. I really loved the testing day of two back to back 70 minutes testing sessions. In which they get a stretch break. for two minutes. Utterly, totally ridiculous.  Which is why, after testing, I let my kids play games until lunch. About 40 minutes.  Sorry, Connect 4, Battleship, real, actual games. They love it and they don't feel so burned out. With that said, there are many things that happen during the time between the end of the test and lunchtime.Some of the high points?

*Bad Boy yelling out in the middle of a game of Uno "Who busted a gump?" Now, if you know what that means, you are way ahead of me and I am really impressed. Apparently, it means passing gas. This statement from Bad Boy managed to get three boys into a shouting match about who, in fact, "busted".

*The nose-to-nose shouting match between two girls who either love each other to death or are at war. When I told them they were done and they were not to be near each other again, one of the told me "But I really want to work on this friendship" With what, dueling pistols?

*The Tornado Watch in the middle of the test which stopped our testing, forced us to stay in our classrooms all day (no bathroom breaks, because we would have to go outside and we were not allowed to do that) and prevented my kids from getting lunch until 1:00, 2 HOURS AFTER we normally eat. The kids had to eat in the room, and my room smelled like cafeteria beef for the next 24 hours. EWWWWW. Thankfully, I had bought Cheez-its for a snack and had leftovers in the classroom,  and a generous art teacher bought my kids snacks for after the tests and we had those. Thanks Mrs. Stone!!!!

* And finally, the piece de resistance, the ultimate, the show-stopper event -THE ACCIDENT, involving, of course, Drama Boy. Now, DB dis not test with me. He got to test with another teacher, where he spent 40 of his 70 minutes of the reading test asking her about the bar code on the front of the test. She is a saint. Now the rules of testing state that during testing, students cannot go out to the bathrooms by themselves, so we have to go as a class. I am NOT dragging my class out every 7 minutes so one person can go to the bathroom. At 10:00, DB said to me "Mrs. Lewis, I have to go to the bathroom" I said "I am sorry, DB, you will have to wait until we all go together in about 15 minutes. " He went back to happily playing games. At 10:15, we all went out and went to the bathroom. At 11:00 we went to lunch, and we went to the bathroom. At 11:40 we came back from lunch and went to the bathroom. At 12:08 we lined up to go to PE. I walked to the back of the room and saw what looked like a lake under the back table. I opened my mouth and said "Did somebody spill......." when a voice at my elbow furiously whispered "Please don't tell, please don't tell!!!!!" I looked, and it was DB, with his enormous sweatshirt wrapped around his waist. I realized that the lake had been created by him!!!!! Yes, he had managed to have an accident at the table right before we lined up. To say I was stunned is an understatement. 10 years old. Really? I told everyone to go to PE and DB and I followed quickly behind. As soon as we dropped off the class, I was going to take him to the clinic for fresh clothes. Apparently, my class does not move as fast as he would like because he kept saying to me "Hurry up! It's dripping!!!!!" I hustled everyone to PE and kept him moving smoothly towards the clinic. As we walked, I said "If it was such an emergency, why didn't you tell me?" His response? "I DID!!!!" I looked at him and said "At 10:00 this morning!!!!! It's 12:15! Are you telling me you held it for two hours even though we have been to the bathroom three times since then???!!!" His response "I told you and you said I had to wait. So I did."

I am so glad this week is over.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I write, hand cramps

I's been forever. But there has been a lot going on. On February 9th, the fourth grade took the FCAT writes. Now, for those of you not in education, let me explain a little about the FCAT. Thanks to the stupid No Child Left Behind act, states have to prove their competencies through a series of tests.In Florida it's the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or F-CAT. If you really want to know how I feel, go here.

Anyway, in fourth grade, we have to prove how well we write. So from August to now, we spend an hour a day doing writing prompt after writing prompt. Learning about 5 paragraphs, creative language, expository and narrative. The whole thing is so phony and canned. But, of course, we are not teaching to the test! I want to tell everyone that kids DO NOT learn to write this way!!!! I want to tell them that it is totally counter-productive!!!! But I can't, because the truth is, it's my ass on the line. And guess what? If my scores suck, I get blamed for it. So we practice, practice, practice. I try to make it fun and creative, but by the end of January, we are all sick of writing. Really sick of it. I had 3 kids who just refused to write anymore. And I kind of don't blame them. So we sat down and had a conversation. All of us. And I told them that we were finished with writing. We were tired of it, and really, we had practiced as much as we could. They knew what to do, we had gone over it a million times and they could do it. So the deal was, no more writing. But on the day of the test, we all had to give our best effort and write, write, write.

"Yes, Mrs. Lewis!" my friends all chorused together.


On the day of the test I had one kid who wrote one line. and then erased it. And then wrote half a line. Total. In 45 minutes.

Another had 4 lines and one more had one paragraph. And that was it.

When I glared at the one-paragraph kid (because I cannot say anything during the test. I am not even allowed to know what the prompt is) He looked at me all indignantly and said "What? I'm done!"

4-liner just put his head down and went to sleep, and when I asked 1/2 line kid what happened, he just shook his head and said "I don't know".

Now part of me feels really bad that these kids hate it so much, but part of me want to scream "YOU KNOW THIS!!!! I HAVE SEEN YOU DO THIS!!!!!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????????" But I didn't.

The biggest surprise? Bad Boy! That child put his nose to the grindstone and I saw him plan, write, edit, re-read and edit again! He worked the entire time!!!!!! At one point, about halfway through, he put his paper down, heaved a huge, resigned sigh and got back to work. I was so thrilled! I told him how proud I was of how hard he worked and he looked at me and said:

"What do you mean? I just did what you told me to do."

I almost collapsed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oh the Drama!!!!!

My class has a penchant for the dramatic. (and, truthfully, so do I, so I may be partly to blame. oh well) Nothing is ever stated, nothing is ever just said. Instead, we have to yell, exclaim, shout, demand, announce, proclaim and broadcast each and every item. I am glad they are so enthusiastic, but I am certain that if this level of hysteria over everything continues, at some point I will probably have to bring in fainting couches for the Sarah Bernhardts of the class. Maybe I can get a bulk discount. Today's drama, which was relatively minor, went something like this:

"Mrs. Lewis? I have red spots all over my arms! And they're getting bigger!" (Which she did and they were)

"Mrs. Lewis? I just fell (at recess) and cracked my head on a rock and now I'm bleeding."

(Two girls nose to nose, both yelling and crying)
"I did not punch you! You are a liar!
"I am not a liar, you are horrible and mean and I hate you!"
"I'm telling! You are the liar!"

and no post would be complete without a moment brought to you by Drama Boy, who yesterday looked at me and said "You are WRONG!" Today was a better day.

Drama Boy: "Hey Mrs. Lewis! Did you know that I went to Animal Kingdom with my mom and we went on the Yeti ride and it looks nothing like it does on tv and its way scarier than I thought it would be and did you know that Yeti's are real it's true I saw one but on the ride they are much bigger and I thought that it was going to get me but then I realized I was on the ride and it can't get me but I want to know where they live and do you know because I need to find out and I need to go to the media center to look it up.'K?"

And then we had to get under our desks because there was a tornado drill. And another class was with us. Yeah, Wednesday. Sigh.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chaos Part Deux

I believe I left you all at Wednesday of last week. Go HERE if you would like a re-cap.Then came Thursday. At that point, we were back in our room, but if you re-call, had done absolutely nothing the day before. So we had two days worth of work to get done. We are motoring along, getting our work done. At 9:10, I realize that I had never sent our attendance cards up to the office. I grabbed the bag and sent Drama Boy and Lip Gloss (who happened to be my two messengers) to the office. They were gone an awfully long time. When they come back, Drama Boy has got a bowl of cereal and chocolate milk in his hand. Our rule at school is that if a child does not have time for breakfast at home, they can have it at school. We also allow children who do not have time to eat in the cafeteria to grab a bag that has 2 slices of toast and milk to bring that and eat it in the room. Toast. Which, you know, does not spill. At 8:00. It was now 9:30. The conversation that follows:

Me: Drama Boy, what are you doing with cereal?

DB: I got it from the cafeteria. I was hungry. 

Me: And they gave it to you?(I find out later that there was a misunderstanding, because, at the time, I was livid that they had given it to him.)

DB: Yes

Me: Well, I'm sorry but it is past breakfast time. We are doing writing and if you were hungry for breakfast, you should have gotten it an hour and a half ago when you came to school. ( I know, you think I am awful for denying a kid breakfast when he is hungry but you know what? He could have gotten it at 8:00. Also, Drama Boy tends to think that rules do not apply to him, and he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants. Plus, if he was eating the cereal, no writing would get done. At all.)


Me: You need to go put the cereal on the back table. We are writing.


Me: Now.

DB: (Stands as straight as he can drawing himself up to his full 4' 1",  extends his arm and points a finger directly at me.) FINE! FINE! BUT IF I STARVE TO DEATH IT WILL BE ALL YOUR FAULT!!!!!!!!!!!! (He then throws himself at his desk and weeps copiously. I ignored him.)
He proceeds to build a tower of books over and above his head while still crying. I thought my class was going to lose it because half of them were red in the face from trying not to laugh out loud. The rest of the day passed fairly uneventfully. Then came Friday afternoon.

In the grand scheme of things, Bad Boy was having a pretty good week. Then his mom came to pick him up Friday afternoon. I love his mother. She is awesome. She is totally supportive and really involved. I find out that Bad Boy, who has not been turning in his homework, has been lying to her about having it done already. He has also been lying about his writing and when I dig through his backpack, I find a ton of "correct and return" papers that he never returned. His mother was at a loss, I was at a loss, and so I laid into him. Really, really hard. I have tried to be kind, I have tried to be strict, but he is just being lazy. And I let him know it. I have never laid into a kid that hard before, and I would not have, except for the fact that him mom was a) standing there and b)on the same page as me. I started to feel really bad when he began to cry, but I was determined not to let up. I finally ran out of steam and let his mother take over. The poor kid! But I hope this will get through to him. I feel like if he does not begin to learn about consequences now, he can easily get lost in the shuffle of middle school. So that was the week. I am thankful for a three-day weekend for me, but because we have report cards due, the kids get a four-day weekend. So I won't see them until Wednesday. And when I do, I will give Bad Boy a big hug and we will sit down and talk.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chaos Theory In Practice

Kids need routine. Kids like predictability, and when you mess with that, you better be prepared. Change one element, and it can throw off the whole delicate operation that is the elementary school day. As predicted, this week has, indeed, been one hot mess. Monday, we moved out of our classroom. 24 children lugging backpacks, textbooks, coats, sweaters and recess equipment while their teacher pushed a large grocery cart with books, cd player, computer, paper, pencils and other items. We looked like some sort of deranged parade. Along the way, I lost several of my kids. I'm not sure where they went, but they showed up 20 minutes later.
We settled comfortably into our temporary digs and dismissed from that room. Fine. The next day, we hummed along as best we could. Until the afternoon. When Bad Boy comes back to the room from going to the bathroom and delivering a message to another teacher for me. (20 minutes later)

BB: Mrs. Lewis? I have paint all over my hands.

Mrs. L: Why?

BB: Because I stopped by our room and touched all the wet paint.

OF COURSE HE DID!!!!!!!! But I have to give him props for admitting it. So when the kids were dismissed, I took him down to our room and made him apologize to the painters who now had to re-paint all of our shelves because someone's little fingerprints were all over them. And he did. And so I sent him away. That was Tuesday.

We were told we could move back into our room Wednesday morning. However, the painters finished our room Tuesday night and told that art teacher she could move into our temporary room right away because her room was next in line. Move into where we were. Which we had no idea about. Wednesday morning, I walk in and find her there. Getting ready for her first class. In 20 minutes. Of course, we had PE on Wednesday, and as you know from HERE, on cold days, PE has to be inside. And it was 35 degrees out. So the art teacher, who is, no doubt, a Super-Super Colleague rearranged herself to accommodate us. Because there was no way, even though the paint was dry, that we could have had PE in our room. And this is why:

The kids desks are somewhere under there. No idea where. While the kids were doing PE, I hastily packed up all our stuff, again, and tried dragging it by myself back to our room so the art teacher could get into the temporary room right after PE. It was not pretty. Things spilled. I crashed the cart twice and cracked my shin against it at least three times.
At exactly 9:05 I dragged my kids out of the room with all their stuff. Three went missing again. I found out later they had an unfortunate meeting with the assistant principal. They came back, unscathed, although I later heard that one of my girls told someone to "Kiss my butt", which brought about the meeting with the VP.  We are all assembled back in our room, and it occurs to me that there is no way we can do anything until we put some order back into the room. So we try, but the kids are totally wound up, and I am seriously losing it. As I am about to blow a gasket, along comes an angel. A wonder. A woman whose debt I will forever be in. The fourth grade teacher on my row pops her head into my room and sees the chaos that is the day. She offers to take my kids, and, not only keep them in her room, but do a writing lesson with them!!!!!!!! While her kids are in there too!!!!!!!  I mean, seriously, does it get any more super than that?!?!?! NO!!!! WOW!!!!! So She takes them. For 2 hours. And I take two trustworthy kids of mine and we put the room back in order. She also takes them for half an hour after lunch. I love this woman. I worship at the altar of her awesome-ness. I, of course, will do the same thing for her when she has to put her room back together, but I am still feeling the glow of her kindness.
And that was Wednesday.

The drama of Thursday is coming up, but re-living the first part of the week has exhausted me all over again, and now I must take a nap.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I AM BAAAAACK!!!!!!!!!

Yes, Friends, it is I. Your wonderful blogger, back from vacation/holidays (holi-daze, really), last week of school/first week back, etc. Needless to say, it was hectic, exhausting, but ultimately great. And so I resume. But be prepared, because the following is a lot.

First things first:
Holiday vacation. To have two weeks off is great. It is restorative, it is restful, and it allows me to re-charge. Truly. The truth is, if I did not have these two weeks off, someone would die. The kids were cranky, I was cranky, and no one was getting along. On my vacation, Mr. L and I went home and spent the time visiting our friends and families, seeing plays and movies, and generally catching up with all and sundry in NY. For the very first time, Mr. L and I were home for the entire vacation, together. Usually, he leaves a day or two after Christmas and I do not return until New Years. This time, we had 11 days to do all the stuff we never seem to have time to do. It was great.

Then, it was time to go back to school. And deal with the hot mess that was the first week.
Now the last time I was in my classroom was the day we let out for vacation. Which means I was just as eager as the kids to get out of there. Needless to say, my room was a mess. "No problem" I thought, "I will organize and clean before the kids come in". Wrong. When I got into my car on January fourth, I was horrified to discover that it was 32 degrees outside. 32. In Florida. Now that may seem like a small inconvenience to some, but for me it is huge, because the rule at school is if it is below 40 degrees, the kids have to come into the classrooms. Now when I was a kid, we always walked from the bus into the room and waited for our teacher. No such luck anymore. Kids are not allowed to be in classrooms without adult supervision, ever! As such, the kids all line up on two central courts in the morning where they are supervised by teachers until the first bell rings. I then usually truck out there to get them. Except when it is cold. Then, the kids have to come inside the minute they get there. In other words, I cannot get anything in my room done, because all of a sudden, my kids are in my room a half-hour before normal. Plus, if it's a PE day, that means that PE is in the rooms. During my planning time. So again, nothing gets done. It has been cold all week. I am already behind.
And then, on Thursday, the painters come in and tell me that our room is going to be painted on Monday. And we have to pack up the room like it's the last day of school.
And move to a portable. (read: trailer)
On the other side of campus.
And we don't know when they will be done.
So instead of reading our new story, learning our spelling words and trying to finish "The Tale of Despereaux" we will be packing up our room. Fun.

P.S. - Stay tuned. Stories of Drama Boy and Bad Boy to follow in the next few days. I just have to figure out how they end.