There Will Be Rum

Today was a pisser.  No, really.

Yesterday, I received a new student.  Well, new to me.  He came from the class next door where for the first 10 days of school, he wreaked havoc, screaming “No!” at his teacher and often running out of the room and rampaging around campus.

It was decided by the powers that be, in their infinite wisdom, that it was the combination of an inexperienced teacher and other strong personalities in the class that made it wise to move him to a new classroom.  When the AP told me about it the day before the move, she admitted to me that he’d run away from her office before she’d sent him home for the day.  I said that I didn’t know what I could for him do if administration clearly couldn’t control him either.

But Little Hellraiser E1’d in my room yesterday.  It wasn’t exactly smooth but it was tolerable.  Fast-forward to today.  He started out fine, adhering to our ‘First Things First’ tasks, completing his Morning Work and even reading for a few minutes.

But it was during my iii block about 15 minutes into the instructional day that he began to go downhill.  The schedule is so tight and I was trying to get the iii lesson done but I had to keep stopping to redirect my new friend.  I finally had him sit beside me while I finished the lesson.

Following iii, we began our Morning Meeting.  When he refused to join the rest of the class on the carpet, I chose to continue with what we were doing and put him on ‘Ignore’ as he roamed around the room.  That’s when the shit hit the fan.  As we continued to ignore him, he began to escalate his behavior, eventually scooting a 6′ tall rack of journals toward the center of the room and pushing it over onto the carpet, causing kids to scramble out of the way.

Before we could do anything else, he’d grabbed a chair, carried it toward a cluster of kids cowering by the wall, and proceeded to throw the chair at the kids.  (All of this I have on video on my phone.)  I pushed the call button and told them a student was throwing chairs while I had the kids line up at the door.  We then went out onto the sidewalk and waited for the BIC to come.

While we were outside the room, he absolutely trashed my classroom.  Mind you, he wasn’t screaming, he wasn’t angry, he was simply destroying everything in sight.  When the BIC arrived, he and the AP had the kid clean up his mess while I took the rest of the class to the playground.  The photos are from after it was ‘cleaned up’.

Little Hellraiser was apparently sent home for the rest of the day.  According to the Principal, whom I saw later, he won’t be back tomorrow, either.  I’ll be honest with you.  I don’t want him back in my room.  The truth is, he poses a danger to other students, both physically and academically.  I can’t do my job properly if I’m constantly worried he’s going to hurt someone.

And another fact:  I am a highly qualified professional educator.  I’m hell at teaching kids to read and to write and to perform first grade mathematical functions.  I am NOT a psychiatric nurse.  I am NOT a social worker.  I am NOT trained in dealing with mentally disturbed children.  And it’s not what I want to do with my life.  I can go through the union to refuse to have the kid in my class.  I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.

wpid-20150902_165350-1.jpgThis is happening tonight.

I’m not Miss Beadle.

Brain Breaks

Toward the end of last year, someone introduced me to this terrific website, GoNoodle.  It’s full of short movement videos designed to get kids to be physically active.  Waaaayyy back in the day, I used Hap Palmer LPs (remember those?) to give my kindergartners the chance to get their wiggles out.

When Miz O’Postrophe described the videos on GoNoodle, my initial thought was one of skepticism.  Sure, the kids need a break between the reading block and the math block, but will I really be able to rein them back in after doing Zumba for Kids?  The answer, much to my surprise, was yes.  Not only did they come back together, they were more focused, energized, and ready to participate in the lesson.

To use GoNoodle, just sign up your class.  Then you pick a Champ who grows via the Transmogrifier for every ten videos you complete.  Oh, by the way, they also have awesome compilations for Indoor Recess for those bad weather days when kids need to move.

One can’t-miss video is MooseTube’s Peanut Butter in a Cup.  Sadly, I couldn’t find it on YouTube.  But one of my personal favorites is Maximo, a suave monkey who leads the kids in short yoga routines.  He cracks me up with his mash-up of a Fernando Lamas accent and street slang.

Pop See Koo is one of our favorites around the OK Corral.  I triple dog dare you to watch the video and not have Pop See Koo in your head for the rest of eternity.

I highly recommend GoNoodle Brain Breaks for helping kids get their wiggles out and focus on learning.

Zero the Hero–His First Appearance

wpid-20150823_110355.jpgZero the Hero made his first appearance at the OK Corral on Friday.  It was the tenth day of school.  He brought every kid ten Goldfish crackers which we counted by ones, twos, fives, and tens.  We in the OK Corral were astounded at the difference in how long it takes to count by ones versus by tens.

On a side note, counting out ten Goldfish times sixteen took less than a whole package of the yummy crackers.  So there are plenty left to enjoy at home.  Bonus!

Zero will return again on Day 20.

Presenting…

wpid-20150827_122324-1.jpg

The new bunch at the OK Corral.  As usual, we’ve started our new year with a unit called All About Me.  Today we created self-portraits.  They’re pretty good likenesses, actually.

Ours is an ELL cluster and Mrs. R. is becoming well-versed with using Google Translator to create homework instructions and the like in Spanish and Creole.

Next week, we’ll read the story, The Colors of Us by Karen Katz.  For obvious reasons.  Our colors are beautiful.

Fun Friday

In the OK Corral, we’re all about positive behavior management.  Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when Mrs. R. blows her stack.  But by and large,rather than forcing kids to behave out of fear, we like to give them good reasons to do the right thing.

One thing we do is that we collect compliments.  As we move through the hallways to and from lunch and Fine Arts, we endeavor to do such a great job walking along that grownups we pass are compelled to compliment us.  Each compliment translates into a letter as we try to spell out ‘Fun Friday‘ on the front board each week.  Compliments from our Principal and AP are worth 2 letters.  Note that it resets every Monday.  Because Mrs. R. is a hardass.

When we gather the equivalent of 9 compliments, we set aside a little time on Friday afternoon to do something special.  Sometimes we do popcorn and a (short) movie.  Sometimes we do a special craft project.  Sometimes we take the balls and jump ropes outside.  Occasionally Mrs. R. springs for ice pops.

wpid-20150821_133107-1.jpgThis past Friday, the first of the new school year, my class legitimately earned Fun Friday.  We did one of my favorite no-cost activities.  We got out the rhythm instruments and played music.  Jimmy Fallon has several videos on Youtube where he and a famous musical artist, along with Fallon’s band The Roots, play their hit song using classroom instruments.  Our rule is, When The Roots play, you play.  When The Roots stop, you stop. 

Here is one of my favorites, Call Me Maybe with Carly Rae Jepson.  Fallon also does Let It Go with Idina Menzel and All I Want For Christmas with Mariah Carey.  Whether or not you want to do Blurred Lines with kids would be up to you.  The point is, it’s a super easy Fun Friday activity that costs you nothing.  And the kids love it.

And just so you know, we already have 2 letters toward this Friday’s ‘Fun Friday’.

Team Building Time at the OK Corral

We’re three days into the new school year at the OK Corral.  We’re taking just-out-of-kindergarten-ers and turning them into lean, mean, running-with-the-big-dogs first graders.  The first week or so of any school year is spent teaching procedures and rules, outlining expectations, and creating a cohesive family for the next 180 days.  We’ve read many of the usual first-day-of-school read alouds like First Day Jitters, The Kissing Hand, and one of my personal favorites, It’s Time for School, Stinkyface.

wpid-20150819_094646.jpgToday, we read another great book, The Crayon Box That Talked.  In the story, a little girl overhears a box of crayons arguing about how they don’t like one another.  She buys the box, takes it home, and shows the crayons how they work together to create a beautiful picture.  Not unlike a rag tag bunch of former kindergartners, coming together to form a terrific first grade class.

After reading the story, we worked on creating our own crayon dudes with which to decorate the OK Corral.  Check it out.

You Can Tell It’s Monday

I had four unbelievable kid stories that all happened today.  Buckle your seat belts.  It was a bumpy day.

1. One of my friends, Gummy Bear Lush, dropped this on me on her way in this morning.

Gummy: I was absent on Friday because the po-lice came to my house and broke the window.

Me: Why did they break the window?

Gummy: (shrugging) I don’t know.

Me: What did they do after that?

Gummy: They was looking for guns.

Me: Did you have guns inside the house?

Gummy: No, only outside.

2.  Next, a different friend came up to read me her Monday Journal.

imageHere’s a translation in case you don’t read First Grader.

Today is Monday, May 18, 2015.  It is Day G.  This weekend, I went to see my uncle at jail and he [is] going out of jail and for his birthday we had a party and some had money and they kept giving him $20, $20, $20, $20, $20, $20, $20, $20, $221.

3.  While we were at lunch, one of the cafeteria monitors came into the teachers’ dining room to catch her breath for a moment.  She proceeded to tell us that a second grade girl had brought a small bottle of whiskey to the cafeteria and had passed it around her lunch table so that everyone could have a sip.  Well, thank God she thought to share.

4.  One of my students was called to the office for dismissal at about 10:00.  Since it was Princess Nastypants, I was happy to see her go.  So I was surprised when I picked up my class after lunch and she was back.

“You’re back,” I said.

“I had to go get a DNA test to see if my daddy is my real daddy.”

This is why teachers should get discounts at Total Wine.  Good news!  We have twelve days left.

In-House Field Trip

We had an in-house field trip today at the O.K. Corral.  We’d been working for a while on doing some kind of trip before the end of school.  Our original plan was to go to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter.  The problem with that was that the fee per child was $4.50, then we would have had to tack on another $3.00 to pay for the bus, bringing the total to $7.50, which is really too much to ask from our Title I families.

Enter Bee Understanding, a local non-profit organization that educates people about the importance of honey bees to our food supply.  According to their website, “bees account for thirty percent of the food we eat…”  We received an email from Al and Keely Salopek stating that they are an approved vendor for the school district and explaining what they do.  For $3.50 per child (for a guaranteed 100 students) Mr. Al comes to your school and does an entertaining and interactive hour-long presentation explaining the various types of bees in a hive and the roles that they play.  Following the whole-group presentation, he meets with individual classes for 15 minute sessions where he answers questions and lets kids view his observation hive up close and personal.  Each kid is given a straw of honey to taste and an “I learned about honey bees today.” sticker to wear home.

We ran into a couple of unforeseen problems when we sent home permission slips for this in-house field trip.  For some of our parents, whose children come to school every day and are given free breakfast and free lunch, it was incomprehensible that they should have to pay money for a trip in which the kids don’t actually go anywhere.  Another problem was that many of our kids are scared shitless of animals, period, let alone bees.  I had five kids who resisted three rounds of permission slips and opted to be farmed out to some of our third-grade friends rather than attend the presentation.

But it was their loss, because the session was terrific.  Mr. Al was enthusiastic and entertaining, keeping the nearly 100 first graders enthralled for a whole hour.  He brought costumes and props and invited kids to come onstage to portray the various bee jobs.  By the end of the hour, the kids knew all sorts of things about how a bee hive operates and why bees are essential to our world.

I would highly recommend Bee Understanding as an affordable alternative to a field trip away from school.  If you’re not local to Palm Beach County, check with your local Backyard Beekeepers’ Association to see if this type of program is available in your area.