Every time that I think I’ve seen all there is to see in a classroom, kids will inevitably surprise me. Most of the time it’s amusing, and only rarely do they display meanness or evil streaks.
Here’s a good example. One of my best, least disruptive students reported that her mechanical pencil wasn’t working. In spite of the fact that a nearby bucket contained at least thirty number two pencils, she showed extreme distress. In order to alleviate her anxiety, I produced a mechanical pencil from my bag.
Magically, ten kids rushed my desk to report that their pencils had just broken. When asked if they were reporting actual events, most smiled sheepishly and returned to their seats. Of course, I left the school with substantially fewer pencils than I had when I entered.
A similar phenomenon occurs with bandaids. When one of my students displays an injury (usually visible only with a magnifying glass), I produce a Minion bandaid and apply it to the wound. Suddenly a rash of wounds appear, all of which require a Minion.
Most of my schools have created reward dollars for students displaying model behavior and good citizenship. When I display these bucks, the room automatically becomes quiet in anticipation of receiving them. And so, I promised that each would receive a buck prior to going to another classroom. Having run out of time, I neglected to distribute the dollars.
We weren’t back in class more than eight seconds before one courageous girl approached me. She timidly reminded me that I had promised the currency but hadn’t fulfilled my pledge.
As I traveled from table to table to keep my word, each of my students had produced an envelope in which they would place their treasures. It was not until halfway through the class that I received my first thank you. When I pointed out this reality, a chorus of thank yous ensued. My guess is that they figured a thank you was good insurance for receiving additional money.
And then there is the territory seeker. One girl spilled her thermos early in the day. Logic and good sense would suggest that it would be quickly cleaned. But the solitary boy at this table chose an entirely different (clever) approach.
He came to me with Chromebook in hand because water is bad for computers. His request was to relocate to another table where two other boys were sitting, and I allowed the move.
Two hours later, the table was still wet. The boy needed to complete a math packet and repeated the relocation request. At last I saw the girl responsible for the spill take the initiative to clean her mess.
By the end of the day, I am designated the best substitute they ever had. Sometimes that statement is followed by, “When do we get candy?” More often, it is simply the silent, sustained hug. Shalom.