Saturday, February 9, 2008

Waiting for a Kidney

I've accepted 1/2 day assignments lately. I don't mind them. Less money, but less stress and responsibility. They are usually for 31/2 to 4 hours which includes a lunch period. Mostly they are in the P.M. and I can work in some music, drama, and P.E. which seem to be sorely missing from most curriculums lately.

This time I was asked to be there at 10:30 A.M. This is almost an hour early. I'd still have to work until 3P.M. and receive the same half pay. "Oh well," I said. "What the heck? Do I have anything better to do?" What I walked in on was just a bit unnerving...not shocking, but questionable. It was a "throw-back" to the old fashioned teaching and classroom. The teacher sat in one place mostly the whole time and the students were in two groups of ten at diagonals to her desk. She went off to the side for a brief time to have a line up of kids (ten) come up and recite the ten different rows (answers) of the 100 multiplication facts. These were just the ones who had completed all 100 in 7 minutes. This reminded me of my old habit of having my classes (mostly 5th and 6th) strive (goal set) to do the same amount in 3-4 minutes with less than 3 mistakes. These were third graders.
There was much bragging and "one-ups-manship" among these students and it was clearly irritating the teacher.

She spoke without much force but "lit-into" any and all who were "talking among themselves" or "not paying close attention" She had me wait off to the side and not circulate and help as I usually did. One student kept raising her hand for help and the teacher didn't seem to see her or come over to her. So...I did. I was rejected. She wanted "her teacher's attention". I had my usual penlight and pointed out a misspelled word she had copied off the chart done by an aide off to the side.(she did nothing else but the chart) The teacher went on to warn me of two of her "worst boys" placed upfront...while they listened. They had to keep a partially filled out "referral slip" on their desktop as a "reminder" of potential and future "detention" they had coming. Several other like slips were magneted on the white board along with lists of kids names with missing assignments or late homework etc. There was a place for "table points" (good points for groups"catch them being good") and it was mostly empty. Remember, this is third grade.

Soon she called me over to her "command seat" at the middle front and told me to take over..."I have to go to my doctor's appointment now." It was just about 5 minutes before lunch and line-up. On their way out she explained that she was waiting for a kidney and had nightly dialysis at home. She was rather matter-of-fact about it. She showed me the teacher's books she had stacked up ready for the afternoon's assignments. She had also written it on the board in smaller print, at the top, going from left to right, not up and down as usual. I asked her if I could slip in some music and class singing if we had problem. How about P.E.? Oh, none today but they were allowed to have a "nutritious snack" when they came back in from lunch recess while they "free read" (AR) rather than mid-afternoon with a "wiggle break". OK. She also warned me about the "one girl" (who had raised her hand, unrequited) She was not allowed near the teacher's desk because "things had gone missing" recently..."sticky fingers" suspected...I later found her with a hand-full of colorful plastic rulers off in the corner shelves. I asked her what she was doing with them? She needed them. As it turned out the back of the P.M. Math assignment called EXCEL there were three problems of "measurement by cm's" I capitalized on that in a positive way and let her pass out rulers to all the kids and help them measure their lines. I later wrote a positive note to the teacher on how she was trying to help.

We "somehow" had time for a few fun songs, even about Math ("Inch Worm") and a game of "Silent Ball" at the end. They just love this game...sit on top of your desk and toss a balloon-ball around to get each other "out". Our "sticky-fingered" girl was in her glory. She was a different personality during P.E. like this...very with it and athletic...a kinesthetic learner. The kids wanted to know if I would come back tomorrow for somemore fun...I can see why. I had to warn or scold no one during my time there.

The teachers in the staff room at lunch time said she had been waiting for a kidney "a long time"...there were no other comments. RRR

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