Sunday, January 17, 2010

Life stories

Remember my last post about my little friend and his mother's advice?

Well, I continue to find out more and more that just breaks my heart.

When he was acting out yet again (frustrated, refusing to work in a group, etc), we sat down to have a little chat. As I tried to draw him out of his meltdown, he let me see a glimpse into his life. "I don't like to work with groups because I do everything by myself at home. No one ever helps me. My parents told me I was a mistake and that I wasn't even supposed to be born."

Really, Mom, did you think that was a good idea to tell your young son that? Really? I could just slap her.

I can't imagine what life is like for this child as he goes about his days thinking that he shouldn't even be here. He feels he is worth nothing!

Then, I did something totally illegal.

I told him "God doesn't make mistakes." (Yikes! Am I going to get fired for this? That's what I was thinking) "I don't believe in God," he said. As we continued to talk, I tried to choose my words wisely as I attempted to show him the love that I have for him as well as his Heavenly Father, along with his earthly father, with whom he lives. While I'm not sure if I made a difference with this conversation or not, I pray that I can shine a light on all that this child has to live for. I hope that, throught the rest of this year, I am able to help him see that he has much to offer to the world and that the Lord has a special purpose in mind just for him.

Now, it is much easier for me to think about him in this way as I sit at home on my 3-day weekend (yay!) but the hard part is showing the same patience when he continues to be defiant and difficult and disruptive when we go back to school on Tuesday. I count myself blessed to have the opportunity to work with a child in this way, but I have absolutely no idea how I can make even the slightest impression with my little experience and lack of wisdom in teaching and handling children's issues and hurts. Furthermore, I hate that, even knowing his background, he will still make me angry and frustrated and quite possibly ruin many of my days to come.

Ugh, the irony.

This is yet another lesson along this roller coaster of teaching that I have experienced so far this year. It is amazing how much one can learn in such a short amount of time. I also realize more and more that, no matter how long I teach, I will never be prepared for everything that comes my way. The only possible solution is to take it 1 day, 1 week, 1 quarter, 1 semester at a time. It is exhausting. I just had a 4-day weekend last weekend, then a full week of school, and now another 3-day weekend. And I'm still exhausted. I wonder if I will ever feel caught up?

From the wondering mind of,
Miss Davis

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Woo-hoo! I officially have a 4 day weekend because they cancelled the next 2 days of school due to ridiculously low temperatures and "winter weather" headed our way. Hooray! I am officially a huge fan of chilly weather and snow days. Oh what a wonderful feeling! Oh what a wonderful day!

Now, let's go back to these first 3 days back to school.

I am currently in a state of complete confusion.

On Monday, I was greeted by a well-behaved, quiet, kind, and overall fantastic class. They have continued to show up every day this week. I'm not sure what happened to my other class over Christmas break but I'm pretty sure these aren't the same kids.

I feel really good about how I started off the semester on Monday. We spent the whole afternoon discussing procedures and practicing them, and I impressed upon them EXACTLY what I expected from them. I modeled routines, they modeled routines. I also introduced a small incentive that I hope they will really enjoy (they definitely seem to so far!). I have a small plastic gold star trophy that I have not found a purpose for yet. When I was thinking about how to encourage correct procedures, I decided to break out the trophy and award it to the procedure "ROCKSTAR!" of the day--the student who demonstrated the best procedures throughout the day. So far, my kids LOVE it! They anxiously await as I drag out my announcement at the end of the day. They get to keep the trophy on their desk throughout the next day, and then I announce another student. There are also a few other small privileges for being the Rockstar. On the first day, I gave it to one student who, last semester, seemed highly unmotivated, but had a great day on Monday. When she got the trophy Monday afternoon, our very first Rockstar, she was surprised, and she has been wonderful all week. I am glad this has, hopefully, boosted motivation a bit!

Back to the original topic though... my kids have been just wonderful and I am amazed! I discussed the phenomenon with a few of the other teachers who have not had such smooth returns. I don't know what's going on, but I'm loving it! It just makes me nervous that it's going to explode in my face soon. :) I don't expect all great days, but it would be nice to experience more like this week!

The one incident that I had was with one of my boys. Every once in awhile he has "meltdowns" where he gets frustrated over something small. While practicing some words for the school spelling bee, one of his classmates gave him a word that he didn't know how to spell (hence the reason for practice?). He refused to spell it, and went and sat in the corner.We had a discussion about still trying things even when it is hard or frustrating. My jaw dropped when his response was "My mom told me I didn't have to try if something was too hard." Knowing his background and his mother's current situation (in and out of a mental hospital because she has episodes in which she "goes crazy"), I am sure that his mother did actually tell him this. When I spoke with his father, he confirmed that the mother indeed held this philosophy in life. Wow. As we went further in the conversation, we discussed the student's lack of respect shown toward his group and to me. Again, my jaw dropped when he told me that he "doesn't have to show respect." WHAT? Really? This boy was bold enough to tell a teacher that he doesn't think he needs to be respectful to her. After continued discussion and the input of the special ed teacher, he acknowledged that he did need to show respect and we discussed a logical consequence. That boy has got some serious issues! Though my blood was boiling throughout our conversation about respect, I hope that I can teach him some life lessons by the end of the school year.

Wow, that was long. But I had to share that insane conversation that I still can't believe I had with a fourth grader.

And now, I am off to enjoy 2 snow days and the weekend!

From the cozy, warm kitchen of,
Miss Davis