Oh look! A student was kind enough to leave me a welcome message on my classroom chalkboard. For those of you who can’t see it : JOE IS A LOOSER. Looks like my work is cut out for me.
I tried to conjure days of yore, the days before our work day punch in and punch out was switched to nautical time keeping. The time when we realized the time had indeed come to switch from the stiff, yellow-stained-white long sleeved oxfords of our uniform policy to the stiff, yellow-stained-white SHORT sleeved oxfords. The space between May and June is a tricky one to fill. Having attended the same school with basically the same kids for 8 years meant we had it down to a science.
The hints that our future was shiny and bright often began with an amazing thing called outdoor recess-one that occurred for 4 days in a row without rain. This is when we realized that the saddle shoes STILL weren’t scuffed enough to stop a running gal in place during a game of Rounders or Run-Across or, God forbid, Red Rover-the violent game that would cause chaotic juvenile arrests today. This is when we watched the gym teacher lazily perched on the side wall with a whistle and a bag of Fritos (so unfair!) , chatting with another teacher as we ran and often policed our own fun.
The best part about that playground was that it was an empty church parking lot.
When it wasn’t filled with cars, it was absolute nirvana. BOYS CHASE GIRLS! Someone always screeched and yelled and ran. Everyone followed.
We had Playground Mothers- when I was stuck on some type of playground equipment- between the years 1981-1984- and that large hand bell rang to signal the end, I often found myself calling out tentatively, “Mother?” “Mom?” I can’t remember now if we were told to just call them Mom or what, but eventually one would see me and haphazardly lift me down and I was really embarrassed every time.
I watched with jealousy as other girls and guys who were clearly more gymnastically inclined spinning spinning spinning with one leg wrapped around the bar, arms hooked, never stopping. I cringed and almost barfed when another student flew off the swings on the “jump-off” swing game and broke his leg. I remember one unfortunate 1st grade event in which a school mate peed on the swing seat and wouldn’t move until a Playground Mother swooped in to save the day.
I remember warning others to BACK IT UP!!!! WAYYY UP!!!! when the stars of our group were up to kick during kick ball. We knew everyone’s kick style. We knew who would be the one that acted as though that ball was gonna soar over the building onto Frederick Avenue (now a major road connecting major cities) and actually stopped the ball with the foot and ran like hell for first base.
We knew which girls had the hardest shoes and the longest legs and the boys who were tough ones and the ones who would swoop over when attempting to strike.
We had water fountain lines and no-buttsies. We had a bell ringer and large classroom windows that had no screens. We only had to navigate 2 levels and 2 hallways.
We knew on Wednesday we had confession in the church and some of us would wait, heart beating, destroying nail beds while waiting for our turn. I would finally be ensconced in the confessional and confess things like, “I told my Dad I turned the TV off when I really didn’t…” and dutifully counted off my penance prayers on my fingers while watching the rest of the class enter and exit the booth. Our biggest scandal was having the priest snoring on the other side of the mysterious grate.
I imagine that at this time, our teachers, as well, were counting down with as much, if not more, enthusiasm as we were. The last minute assignments meant to push the grades up a notch went in and came out of their boxes with alarming speed.It was a time that I miss. I didn’t even know how much until now as I sit, prepping for my day as a teacher, 13 days before the end. The Countdown Continues.
Yesterday we spoke briefly about the structure of a story and how plot is important to dissect. I’m going to read a short story to you and as I’m reading, you are to fill in the Parts of a Story Organizer you have on your desk.
I perch precariously on the desk with 4 different leg lengths. Not a great idea. I stand and begin.
“Maybelle was a short haired chihuahua that was found wandering my neighborhood at dinnertime on Wednesday. Sara was the one who noticed her right…..”
I hear the shuffling of slippers before I see them standing directly between me and the rest of the class.
Um, can I help you? (and why are you wearing slippers to school, again?)
She hands me an index card, folded 4 times over to make a teeny tiny square (THIS BETTER BE GOOD, I scream in my head and thank Wellbutrin)
I open the now warm, faintly damp, missal.
R U PERGO?
It is SO darn refreshing how honest kids these days are.
(The answer is NEITHER)
Dear Trailer 4A,
Time to make that important connection between your real world and our classroom. Yes, we are actually heading to our community Food & Clothing Bank to help sort donations.
Yes, CONNECTION, people. It means “a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else”. Let’s brainstorm a list of CONNECTIONS we could make between this trip and our recent classroom lessons on Giving Back: Our Community.
1. My Earrings – Um, well, yes, a connection of some sort, but not quite the connection we’re mining for today.
2. My Dealer- Next.
I see we could use some modeling here: An appropriate connection would be GIVING BACK=PERSONAL SATISFACTION or COMMUNITY SERVICE=RESPONSIBILITY
3. Community Service+ My Dealer= Probation!?
Ohhhh-kaaaayyyyy…. Gotcha. Not a convo that’s going to happen today…
Isn’t it spelled volun-TEAR? No.
Found in 6th Grade Hallway (in 1998-waaaayyyy before texting and, well, you know…a lot of other things that a middle school child didn’t do that they now seem to excel at….use your imagination…) Oh, and it’s handwritten. In beautiful cursive. What? #thosewerethedays
Just thinking about you and me makes me think about our future. When we get older I want to have a family with you. I want to be married with you. So do you think you can handle that. If you can’t, I will win you over. Also I can’t live or do anything without you in my heart. My heart is filled up but with you it will more more filled with love. Also, I wish we could have a boy/girl with each other.
Tell me at lunch if you can handle that and if we can spend our lives together. Thanks for giving me a second chance. Even though what I did was stupid.
As I finish this blog excerpt, I’m realizing that I may have thwarted what could have been a beautiful and fulfilling relationship between two 11 year old children…whoopsie. #theycallmetheinterceptor
Dear Once Respectful Middle School Class,
It’s true. Our time together is almost complete. With these 19 days of school left this year, I’ll assume you’ll continue to demand immediate assistance, the truth regarding why my first name is “a boy’s name’ (trust me, I’m a girl), a new seating chart that will suit you and your social circle, (geez, if I haven’t already done this people, I’m more than likely NOT going to) almost hourly requests for a functional pencil sharpener, (ain’t nobody got time for that) and, finally, permission to visit that flashy nightclub known as The Bathroom (WHATEVER happens in those tiled palaces, it surely must require a $5 cover). For working so incredibly and mindfully this last semester, I’d like to give a shout out to all my middle school friends and be careful…I just may follow ya’ll to high school- and, please, remember, is this the best it’s gonna get for you? Dang right.
Let’s enjoy and stay positive. Mindset, people, it’s all about our mindsets…and deodorant.
Fondly and Still Unerringly Yours,
(From the Vault) Dear 7th Grade Friends,
Teacher A has been teaching you for 62 days.
Teacher A has seen a minimum of 3 Friends per day become quite frustrated at least 2 times per day.
Teacher A has 17 Friends to teach per day.
How many times a day should Teacher A expect to identify, direct, redirect, redirect, redirect, direct, transport, and follow up with each friend by Day #71?
Answer: As many times as it takes for ALL Friends to SUCCEED with PRIDE (Duh!)
P.S. Yes, I ALSO smell that from all the way over here… Haven’t you seen the size of this beak?! #gasisallyouboo 🤢 👃
Attention Middle School Boys of Room 239:
Whoever is slinging the sopping wet, brown globs of paper towels up to the ceiling in the upstairs boys bathroom- please meet Mr. Sands in the Custodian’s office at lunch. You’ll be slinging the (by now) cement-like paper pieces off of the ceiling until it shines like the top of the Chrysler Building! (WHAAAA? You’ve never EVEN HEARD of Annie?!!!)
I imagine you’ll also miss playing Basketball Knock-Out in Gym today, as once ya’ll are done in the upstairs boy’s bathrooms, you can head on down to Ms. Rita’s art room where you can begin the tasty task of removing all of the Sparkling Grape Hubba-Bubba gum from underneath the art station desks (MMMMMM….sounds DELISH).
To the Middle School Boys AND Girls of Room 239:
Asking for 10 sentences to create a paragraph is NOT THAT DIFFICULT, people. You’ve spoken more sentences persuading me to drop the assignment just now.
Your classroom pencil sharpener is no longer available as your “office water cooler”. In addition, please arrange to have your brain wrap around the idea that I am a teacher. I hear all. I see all. I am all (Ladies and Gents, I was also once a middle-school student…).
Lastly, I suggest you find other outlets for your vertical pitching skills and masticating needs. And, for GOD’S SAKE stop snatching all of my rubber bands off of my desk…MY desk.
Fondly, Mrs. Wise