Tag Archives: elementary students

Essays, flowers, stickers

Tuesday is the day I try to devote my visit to Columbia to the older kids, but today I did go by the first grade wing and dropped off flowers in each room. After being told by the school psychologist that most of the students in the school are suffering from PTSD, I did some research. Coloring helps. So do flowers. I hand out stacks of coloring pages each week at lunch time. So today I decided to put live flowers in each first grade classroom.


My next stop was the 6th grade classroom where I am helping the students write essays about friends. I had collected, read, and commented on their first draft. It was time to hand them back and start the rewrite process. The essays are really good and I can hardly wait to see the finished products.

I rushed from that 6th grade room to get to lunch with 3rd graders. We ate teriyaki beef:


After lunch I handed out about 50 coloring pages, a box of crayons, numerous pencils, and some erasers. Those who ate their veggies got stickers. Lots of them did and made sure I was aware of it.

On my way out, I found three students loitering in a hallway. Took me awhile to sort them out to where they belonged. I walked one little guy to his class only to hear from his teacher that he had been sent to the office for bad behavior. The teacher had two conduct referrals written for a girl and a boy already in the office. I walked the girl to the office, connected with the other miscreant, and turned in the referrals to the vice principal.

After all that, the father of the previous escorted boy had shown up so I took him to the classroom to speak with his son and waited while he did so. As we returned to the office, I thanked the father for taking the time to come to school. I don’t know what he thought of me being there in my chaplain uniform. The police patch on my shirt often startles people.

Then I was ready to head home. Tomorrow I will be back to do my usual work with first graders. I will need to make more copies of the coloring pages. I used up my supply today.

Working with small children can be hazardous 

Small children cough, sneeze, and wipe their hands on me. A flu shot is mandatory. I take probiotics to stay healthy. I also change out of my school clothes as soon as I get home. I’m always washing my hands, and I carry tissues and hand wipes in my bag of tricks, along with stickers, to hand out as I move through the crowds of children who seek me out on the playground and in the cafeteria.


I’ve had two jackets at the dry cleaners recently. One had milk spilled on it by the little girl sitting next to me in the cafeteria. The other one had pink-reddish smears on the back probably put there when one of the kids hugged me. The dry cleaning lady pointed out, with both jackets, moth holes and asked if I was sure I wanted the jackets cleaned. She probably thinks I’m some eccentric old lady.

“Yes, please clean it. I know the holes are there, but this jacket is only worn to school, to work with small children,” was the response both times.

Those two jackets, one purple, one maroon, are the only items I wear to school that need to be dry cleaned, and I only wear them on really cold days. We’ve had lots of really cold days since Christmas break.

Yesterday we had pulled pork for lunch.


This time, a different first grade girl, dumped the container on the right on my pants and shoes. Lots of pork and barbecue sauce. Fortunately, the items could be easily cleaned.

Today is the 100th day of school for our students. Lunch will be pizza, which I don’t eat, and we’ll see what happens as far as messes go.

Seeking sunshine & better days

The weather here has matched my mood–gloomy. We’ve had more rain this month than ever in Januarys past.

Although we need the water, the cold and gloomy days have not made me happy. Every time a storm front blows in or out, and the air pressure changes, the migraines hit. I’ve used more imitex this month than ever in Januarys past.

The third graders at Columbia have been asking me to come have lunch with them. The only way that is possible is to add an extra day to my schedule. On Tuesday this week, and hopefully for the next few weeks, i’m making a point of getting to Columbia for lunch with the bigger kids. Wednesday and Thursday are set aside for the first graders.

So many of the third graders (who were the first students I read to when I started as school chaplain two years ago) want to sit with me at lunch. We run out of room at the table. I took lots of stickers and puzzle pages but ran out before lunch was over. I will have to get more for next week. The cafeteria manager told me that there were more kids in attendance on Tuesday than any other day this year. She could only attribute it to the sunshine.

Next week is the 100th day of school. I have a special book to read and special stickers for the children to wear stating they are 100 days smarter. We celebrate all kinds of things in first grade!  But I find the fifth and sixth graders like this stuff, too.

Here is some elementary school fashion to make you smile. These shoes sure brightened my day:

When it rains…

…the sixth graders go wild.

Thursday was a crazy day at Columbia. First of all, the sixth grade teachers were all gone to a teacher inservice. Why the district would require such a thing on the first week back from Christmas break boggles my mind. It’s hard enough to get students back to routine, and having a substitute in the classroom is NOT routine.

Second, we had a major rain storm on Thursday. There were huge bodies of water throughout the campus. It seemed as though the kids were finding and falling into those “ponds” left and right. Upon arrival at the school I was greeted by a boy soaked to the skin from falling into one. I worked with the home liaison to find dry clothing for him from the stash of spare clothing I have been bringing. Nothing. The supply of pants was all gone due to so many “accidents.” Guess I have a project for next week. We eventually had to call the boy’s mother to bring him spare clothing, meaning he sat out of class for about an hour.

Rain does strange things to kids. Maybe it’s atmospheric pressure or something, but they become wild creatures, even under the best of terms, but with those substitutes in the classrooms, they became even wilder. I was asked to help get a class under control. Why me? Well, the vice principal was out sick, and the other administrator was out for a doctor’s appointment. That left the principal dealing with other issues, like the second grader who brought a small blow torch to school.

When I entered the classroom, after gathering some intel from students already sent to the office, things seemed to be fairly calm. The students were working on a math problem (I’m NOT a math teacher, never have been, never will be). The substitute was at the front of the room, with his back to the class, trying to do the problem on the white board.

Okay, here are some rules I have: Never turn your back on a class, especially if you are not the regular teacher. Always walk among the desks, speaking to each and every student, checking to see if they know what they are doing. Don’t yell. Don’t let them see you sweat.

The students in the office had told me that students weren’t doing the work and had their phones out. They also said the substitute was yelling at them. I did see the yelling, but the cell phones had been tucked away by the time I walked in. I helped students, individually, with their math problems and got them on track. Kids need to feel successful with the task or they quickly go off-task and misbehave. When I felt things were going well, I talked with the substitute and asked about the students he had sent to the office. He said they could return if they were quiet and behaved.

I returned to the office and filled those students in, but one student refused to return to class. He wanted his audience with the principal, to tell her about how bad the substitute was and how the class had behaved. The others returned with promises to be quiet and to say they were sorry. I suddenly realized I was late to lunch with the first graders, my real responsibility for the day. It was still raining.

 

Some things just don’t work out

You may remember the post about the teddy bears that had been collected and would be distributed to all the first graders at schools with school chaplains before Christmas break? It all sounded fine when I left Columbia on the Thursday of the last week of school. Ninety bears were awaiting the police resource officer who would come at the end of the next day, the day before Christmas break, and hand out the bears as the first graders left school. What could go wrong?

  • The resource officer was late.
  • There weren’t enough bears.

Because of absences, every child who was there got a bear, but even though I had been told there would be extras, there weren’t enough. I am not happy with this situation.

In talking with one of the first grade teachers, I learned 90 bears would not have been enough if all students had been in attendance. The lady who collected and distributed the bears had called the schools ahead of time and gotten the headcount for first grade. That’s why she gave me the number she did–nine bags, each with 10 bears. And remember, she had told all of the chaplains there would be extras we could do with as we saw fit. Didn’t happen at Columbia.

Because the teachers wanted the bears handed out on the last day of the week, at the very end of the day, so as not to disrupt class, I was not able to be there to help with the distribution. I thought, though, it’s pretty simple, what can go wrong. Famous last words for a control-freak such as myself.

School starts at 8 a.m.

As I waited Wednesday to have lunch with the first graders, Mr. V, a kindergarten teacher, delivered a girl to the cafeteria so she could eat lunch. Although the kindergartners had already eaten, this child had just arrived at school, at 11:30, thus missing meal time.

I got my meal as she took hers and we sat together at one of the first grader’s tables. I questioned the girl as to why she was so late. Did she have a doctor’s appointment that morning? No, her mother had been letting them sleep in the past few mornings. This was not her first tardy morning. Later I would learn that she had actually missed Monday and Tuesday because the family had gotten up so late.

“You need an alarm clock,” I told her.

“Yes, that’s what I tell my mom, to get me an alarm clock.”

We continued eating and chatting as the first graders arrived. They had been excited to see me as I had been away the past two weeks and wanted to tell me all about what they had been doing. I didn’t get to hear much more from the tardy/truant kindergartner. When she finished eating, I excused myself from the first graders, who let out a howl that I was leaving them, and escorted the child back to Mr. V. I told him she needed an alarm clock.

Since that clock idea kept nagging at me, I stopped on my way home and found a small alarm clock that I thought would appeal to this little girl. I texted Terry to make sure we had the batteries for it before leaving the store. He was kind enough to unpackage the clock, insert the batteries, set the correct time as well as setting a 6 a.m. alarm. School starts at 8. This should give her plenty of time to wake up and get ready.

Another day, another miscreant

On Thursday I got to the cafeteria just as one of the first grade teachers was bringing in a little boy who I have been trying to help. He has impulse control issues, and due to another flare-up, he was to sit in the cafeteria and miss recess.

I sat by him and asked what had happened. Somebody had taken his place in line. These little guys can be so territorial, and they will fight to the death to defend their territory. That’s what had happened this time. He had kicked the interloper.

“Is that the best way to solve the problem?” I asked.

Being pretty smart, he answered with what he knew I wanted to hear, “No.”

“What should you have done?”

“But he got in my place in line.”

“So? Just go the next place in line, or really shock him and go to the end of the line.”

“But it’s my place in line.”

“B, you are what I call a ‘right-fighter. You are right, it’s your place in line, but if he steps into it, and he won’t move when you ask him to, you cannot hit or kick him. We don’t settle our disputes that way.”

“But it’s my place in line.”

This is one battle I’m not going to win. So I stepped away and quit the discussion.