Sunday, January 9, 2011

First Grade Faux Pas

Let's be honest.  Not everything in life goes perfectly or as planned.  Well, the same is true for teaching.  Now that I've shared my favorite parts of teaching first grade, it's time for a dose of the less than pleasant faux pas.

Just as my neighbors at border patrol work to confiscate illegal contraband, I've had to do the same in my classroom.  In fact, I've taken into custody everything from silly bands and giant marshmallows to sparklers and 5 pound rocks.  Did I mention that a student brought sparklers to school on my very first day?  My very first day for heaven's sake!  Any bets on what else I'll seize before summer?  I don't even want to guess.

A very bright student in my class read aloud a lovely story she wrote about a character by the name of "Brest." Avoiding a mature discussion and lesson in anatomy, my whispered response was, "That isn't a name for people in this country.  Please erase the letter "s," and we'll change your character's name to Bret.  Sound good?"  Without pausing for an objection, I said, "Okay, great."  With that, "Brest" became "Bret."

As a first grade teacher, I've fallen victim to an endless cycle of sickness.  The stages are as follows: 1.) On the brink of full out illness  2.)  Full out illness, and 3.) Recovery from full out illness.  Note that wellness was intentionally not mentioned in any of the stages.  Despite drinking lots of OJ and trying to get plenty of rest, my immune system cannot withstand the germ carriers and virus sharers I call my students.  This explains my recent bout of pneumonia, which left me bedridden for several days during Thanksgiving vacation.

Two words: lice epidemic.  These nasty creatures have been jumping from head to head and spreading among families and classrooms throughout my school.  In fact, six different cases of lice have been identified in my class alone.  Despite  sporting a pony tail to ward them off, I'm still paranoid that the vile boogers will infest my hair and home.  Frankly, just writing this makes me itch like crazy.

Here's a tricky question a student asked one day.  "Mrs. Sims, what does horny mean?"  This was my on-the-spot response: "Well, we know that animals including rhinoceroses and dinosaurs have horns.  Horns are hard and pointy.  So, if we say something is horny, that could mean it has lots of horns and that it's hard and pointy."  I realized that the inquisitive troublemaker knew more than he led on because he looked dissatisfied, yet impressed with my answer. 

Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar might become the title track for my next class sing along.  That's because we've had several items mysteriously go missing.  Lunch money, new packs of silly bands, special pencils, etc. have all been stolen misplaced.  A more likely story would be that the missing things grew legs and ran away with the gingerbread man.  What was most disturbing and disappointing was when the thieving rascal innocent-until-proven-guilty suspect stole a Christmas gift from a student who  was sick in the hospital.  At least I know Santa was watching!

I have some students with very active imaginations.  For some, the line between reality and fantasy are hard to see, invisible even.  For instance, my class was learning and discussing how animals help people.  I read aloud a story about a disabled boy who was confined to a wheelchair due to a debilitating disease.  The story described how the boy's service dog, Buddy, assisted him with everyday activities at school and home.

As always, hands shot up during the middle of story time.  Believe it or not, one of my students informed me that just like the character, he used to be handicapped and have his own wheelchair.  (Please note that the student is  currently physically sound and can run, jump, skip and hop.)  And get this, the student also told me that he had a service dog whose name was Buddy... just like the dog in the story.  How uncanny!  Incredible lies coincidences like these happen everyday in Mrs. Sims' class.  Come see for yourself.

Wasn't sure if I'd survive that recount of First Grade Faux Pas.  I'm not one to harp on the negative, but at least I can laugh about the bizarre and inappropriate that has become my everyday.  It's certainly never boring!