Miss Bennett in the Bay

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 27 2009

You Make Me Feel So Emotional

We’ve just finished week four of school, which is usually a signal that everybody is getting pretty sick and tired of each other.

Sick is definitely a part of the daily vocabulary at school; several teachers have had to take multiple days off to recover from whatever child-induced illness they may have contracted, and the attendance of students has been noticeably lower due to infection.

Did I mention I’m going to get a flu shot today?

Tired is another word I hear on a regular basis. The kids have been whining a lot more, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s whining. I’ve also had lots of tears for seemingly no reason. (As in, “Ms. Bennett, he took my pencil!” “No I didn’t, it’s MY pencil!” “BWWAAA!” “BWAAAA!”) Woah there. It gets worse as the day goes on, so that my last class of the day is significantly more emotional than the first. I find one of the biggest challenges to the new school structure is that I don’t know all of the interpersonal things that have gone on with my students throughout the day, so problems explode in my classroom that wouldn’t otherwise because I don’t know to be on the watch for them.

Here’s an example: at my school, classes compete to see who can read the most books during a week. My class right after lunch won this challenge, so they received the school cape, which followed them through the day on Friday. Each teacher who gets the class chooses a student to wear the cape; most of us will choose a name from a hat. I did this, and Q got to wear the cape. This didn’t sit well with E, who got so upset about not being able to wear the cape that he crammed himself into the corner and refused to come out. I went on with the beginning of the class, figuring he just needed a minute of alone time, and while I was checking the students’ homework, I realized he was still sitting there. I went to speak to him.
Me: It’s time to come out and work on your Do Now.
E: I want to wear the cape.
Me: I pulled Q’s name out of the hat, and it’s only fair that she gets to wear it.
E: I want to wear the cape.
Me: It wouldn’t be fair to Q. So please go get to work on your Do Now.
E: I want to wear the cape.

By this time, we were somewhat of a spectacle, so I gave E a choice.
Me: Ok, you can either come outside and talk with me, or you can work on your Do Now.
E: I want to wear the cape.
Me: Those are your choices, what will it be?
E: I’m going to go outside.
Me: Ok, great. Let’s go.
E: I want to ride on the elevator.
Me: If you’re going to come outside, it’s to have a conversation with me. Let’s go.

This same conversation repeated itself for about another 3-4 minutes outside of the classroom until I was finally able to get E to come back inside and take his Do Now book out of his desk. Instead of doing it, however, he clutched it with a death grip and started wandering around the classroom, singing Michael Jackson songs.

Me: Ok, now it’s time for you to go next door and have some reflection time.
E: I want to wear the cape.
Me: We’re going next door now.
E: No.
Me: Yes. You need some refocus time so you can be a good learner. Right now you’re not ready to learn.

He protested verbally all the way, but I was able to gently guide him to the classroom next door, where he spent quite a bit of time filling out a behavior reflection form. When he finally came back to my classroom, his fixation on the cape had ended and he was able to focus on math.

I later talked with his literacy teacher and she said he had been on his own little planet during her class as well. Apparently the cape situation just set him off.

Whew. We still have 4 more weeks before we have a day off. Hopefully the students can stand to be around each other for that much longer.

2 Responses

  1. From your writing, I can almost see your kids…I have some, even at the high school level, who act that way. I can easily figure out your demographics just from that one post. Amazing.

  2. Shelly

    Why can’t you let each child wear the cape for a bit? It’s obviously an important symbol and a source of pride for your students and since you teachers set it up that way so why not share the good feelings among the whole class to celebrate?

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"All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost." -J. R. R. Tolkien

Bay Area
Elementary School
Elementary Education

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