Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What ARE you thinking?

I don't want to become a crazy blogger, but this is a good way to communicate to a large number of people what is going on. :)

Today was Wild Wild Wednesday. I am really glad that Wednesdays are short days. :) The whole school is standardized testing except Pre-K and tensions are really high. I think that the kids are feeding off of those tensions and acting out as a result. They have simply been off the wall this week.

One of the expressions that I know I use frequently (because I hear the kids saying it to each other) is "What are you thinking?" Now, I find myself becoming increasingly ghetto fabulous (which I actually love), so I think it takes on a different flavor in person than online, but you'll just have to do your best to imagine. I can't even tell you the number of times I said that today. (Around 2:30 there was a complete coup d'etat, but everyone survived.)

As a case in point, I will use the letter we wrote as a class after lunch. It's easily the best story of the day and, while my kids gave the aides hell in the cafeteria, this letter gave them a good laugh.

Now, they haven't been great before lunch, but it hasn't been complete chaos either. There haven't been any outright tantrums and T and I have only had one fairly minor showdown (he didn't throw or kick any chairs and he only refused to sit with the class for five minutes, during which time I completely ignored him which made the fit no fun). This is reasonable. We've done better, but for a rainy day with high stress levels, this is manageable.

So, imagine my surprise when I come to pick them up from lunch and find out that they've earned a red star.

Pause and let me explain. Red is bad news bears. In my class, red equals consequence. In the cafeteria, the kids can earn green, yellow or red stars depending on their behavior. Green earns them rewards. I don't accept anything less than green. This does not mean we always get green. Jd may bite someone or T hits somebody and it's all downhill from there. But this is the first time in recent memory that we've earned a RED. This is bad.

Needless to say, I'm not happy. That's really quite a nice way of putting it, but I will not be resorting to the language that my students use so commonly (Can I tell you how we will never rhyme words with duck again?). There's some recess time or work station time to be lost now to be replaced by a worksheet or some other heinous task.

But then, oh but then, I find out what they did. I actually only find part out, they spilled their little guts later on, but we'll get to that. Mrs. Camarillo tells me that Jo was throwing food. Not only was he throwing food, but he was putting it in his mouth and spitting it at people. The rest of them spent their time screaming and yelling their way through lunch. Clearly, lunchtime was not the product of good choices.

So, they get in line while I yell at them and inform them that I had better not hear a single sound in the hallway. I tell them how ashamed and embarrassed I am and how they ought to feel about themselves. They try to blame the whole affair on Jo, but I let them know that screaming is similarly not tolerated. Knowing more about the situation now, this blaming business makes me even less pleased. Thus begins the silent march back to the classroom, which they did fairly well.

After sitting in the dark with their heads down for a few minutes after I give a lecture that includes several "What were you thinkings?" and "Where did that seem like a good ideas?," I inform them that we need to write an apology letter to the aides, which some of the well-behaved students will take to the cafeteria. As we write the letter, they begin to tell me an increasing number of their cafeteria indiscretions, many of which were contained in the letter. The letter, which they dictated (with some minor guidance from me) went as follows:

We are sorry for throwing food on the floor. Sorry for screaming and yelling in the cafeteria. Sorry for not listening to the ladies. To says, "Sorry for eating off of the floor." Sorry for not eating the food on our plate. Sorry for getting red. Sorry for making bad choices. Sorry for not getting green. We will get green tomorrow.
Love Ms. Stacy's class

I certainly hope they get green tomorrow. Eating off the floor, really?

Sigh. But I love them anyway. But I certainly didn't like them very much today.

The things that seem like a good idea in the heat of the moment.

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