Sunday, January 25, 2009

Roosters In The Classroom

This last Friday I had the "fun" of subbing in a classroom that requested me again. I had been there once before this year and a few times last year. This time was different. I've written about this class before, i.e. the posts about Playwrights and Dancing. Now the students have expectancies and specific requests. I'm getting to know them better and especially certain "individuals" who might present more of a challenge to "group learning".

First of all, I got there early to check out the lesson plan. I right away noticed, walking into the portable next to the perimeter fence of the playground, roosters crowing. Outside they were pretty loud. Inside they were still pretty loud. I thought, "Oh well, it's early...this is what roosters do." Well, they continued to serenade us the rest of the day. To me it was distracting, but the children had gotten used to it. I asked them if they even noticed it anymore. "Not really." Maybe it is a "generational thing" i.e. ipods/blue tooths in the ears etc. This is a part of town where it is not unusual to have "livestock" in the backyard...especially chickens. I asked them if they had ever tried to visit the roosters. They were not allowed to go behind the portables in a very small space/wired-off fence. Had they "named" the roosters? "Nope." Had they written letters to them or to their owners? "Nope." By now, I would've had the roosters named and writing letters to the kids asking for responses. They would each have personalities and appeal to different types and interests. They'd have their own "signatures" and I'd have an art contest to draw pictures of them. After all, this is only a 2nd grade...imaginations run wild at this tender age.

I wasn't long before I noticed that there were some "rooster-kids" in the room. Usually you will always have one or two who crave attention (especially the teacher's) and who have a whole "other agenda" than what has been planned in the lesson by the regular teacher or the sub. They are the last to get started on the assignment, or the first to have an alternate suggestion, at least for themselves. They don't usually strut around the room physically but they make sure you know, and their fellow students know, that they are there. The leading one in this classroom was in the habit of speaking out and back to "the teacher" and always having an attitude of defiance...or "I don't care". After about 3 or 4 interruptions..."suggestions" of how to teach the class or "what our regular teacher always does". I asked him to move his "behavior clothespin" from green to yellow. This is a warning procedure to get them to stop before it escalates to 2. missed recess, 3. take work to a next door room 4. note home and the colors go from "def-com" yellow to orange to red to black. This disrruptive student was one of two or three who were always sucking on something that you thought might be gum...2nd grade, mind you! His was a metal necklace of less than sterile condition. I had to take that away next. Then it was denial and hiding other objects. He was very verbal, I'm sure, had a high IQ. Work was usually easy and done super fast/first with ostentation. He also suggested the book to read to the class first thing...when we were on "the carpet". I had my own plans with some "nonfiction" posters and magazine articles. When called upon to recite the next part of the lesson, no problem, quick and correct. He was even answering other student's questions.

When it came time to have "fun friday" the last hour of the day he had a did 3 or 4 others. They hadn't brought back their week's homework packet (all done) so they were "prisoner of chair" for that last period. He was fit to be tied. "I did it but I just left it home." The guy next to him "couldn't remember if he had done it or turned it One wanted to work on it right then and there..."Sure, I'll help you with the parts you don't understand," I said, an proceeded to teach her again how to do subtraction with regrouping. Suddenly, "rooster #1" comes up to me with the homework packed in hand. "It was at the bottom of my backpack. I guess my mom stuffed it in there when I didn't notice." Wow! It was correct. He made a beeline to the one remaining computer for the "games" available at this time.

Now, when I look back on the day's interactions, especially with the "roosters", I realize that...I'm somewhat of a "Rooster Myself". I'm a male teacher in a primary setting where there are very few "roosters" to relate to. Their sweet regular teacher has different, more effective, ways of dealing with these "pecking order" challenges I'm sure. They are used to her ways. I'm not...but then, isn't this a big part of what public education is all about? Adapting to changing conditions which are usually less than "ideal". What would you do if you, as a little kid, were confronted by "Foghorn Leghorn" on a rainy day... couped up with a bunch of chickens? RRR

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those "roosters" pictured are from Sweden. Yes, one of our favorite places is "Grannas A Olssons, in Hemslojd, AB" This is a place that manufactures (carves and paints) horses and chickens for your "Swedish Decor". You can tour the "factory" watch the hand-carving and painting etc. BUY lots of item...which we did. You can even personalize the horses with your family name. RRR