Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nuances of the Second Grade

I spent the afternoon subbing for second graders. The teacher left very clear plans (some reading, some workbook time, a math game, more reading, etc.). All in all it should have been a very simple afternoon; I had all the supplies I needed and was good to go.

Unfortunately, I forgot about the little rules, routines, procedures, and idiosyncrasies that keep a primary school classroom running... for instance...

- when the kids sit on the carpet for storytime, should they sit in rows or on the letters sewn into the carpet? Apparently, this is a big, BIG, deal.

- why is this child shaking his fist at me in a bad mimic of a sign language letter? (Three kids came rushing up to tell me the child had to go to the bathroom. No, he wasn't deaf. He was just doing "the sign" for when you have to tell the teacher you need to use the bathroom.)

- After asking the kids to be quiet a couple times, one child helpfully showed me the hand-in-the-air, "give me five" sign, which apparently means all the kids are supposed to quiet five parts of their body or something?

- Ice and snow cause tremendous uproar on the playground. We had to pause for an announcement ten minutes prior to recess starting, informing us that primary students (grades 1-3) were allowed outside recess today because they had been good during morning recess. However, intermediate students (grades 4-6) had been intentionally sliding on the ice (?) and playing near the snow during morning recess, so they must stay inside. This announcement was regarded with seriousness and concern equal to proclamations of war, and my group took two minutes to then debate the merits of inside vs. outside recess (no consensus was reached).

- Near catastrophe coming in from recess - the class did not line up appropriately (straight, silent, and in ABC order), so they came running into me (with 14 of them trying to tell me the story at once) explaining they had to put their heads down on their desk for five minutes. Okay, fine by me. I get them settled at their desks - heads down - and next thing I know, the storm trooper recess monitor comes bursting through the door and proceeds to rip the class a new one about their line behavior and how they're role models for the kindergartners, and on and on! Luckily, I was not included in the thrashing.

- I then had the audacity to ask Jake, NOT the classroom helper, to assist me in collecting some papers. Bruce, the rightful classroom helper of the week, immediately shot his hand up and demanded that he be allowed to do his duty and collect the papers. Fine, you can both help. No, Ms. H., Jake's not a helper this week - only Bruce is. Okay, fine, Bruce please collect those papers. But (says Jake), you said I could! Lord help me. And by this point, I could have collected all of the papers myself.

- The kids like to tell you things. Anything they think of. One boy announced that his dog has the same name as me. He then followed that up with, "But you don't look anything like my dog." Good...? Another girl told me about her swim class tonight and her terrible decision about which swimming suit to wear. Primary school teachers must either be ungodly patient, or able to tune it out after a while.

Despite the trivial things, I had a great time. Second graders don't get away with lying to you or pulling anything on you; as soon as they try, four others in the room jump in to say "that's not true!" It's nice to mostly be able to trust the students, and because they're attention spans are so short, you get to do a lot of actual teaching. Overall, good day.


historygirlie March 10, 2009 at 5:09 PM  

You're a patient woman. I thought high schoolers are bad with telling you random things (I've got a good one for today, but not totally blog appropriate) but 2nd graders are a league of their own.

Good for you! You did it! You've started earning back your trip to heaven....maybe you won't be on the bus to He** with the rest of us!

Rearden March 10, 2009 at 9:08 PM  

I'm glad I taught you how to use the strikeout thing, you seem to be enjyoing it.

Brooklet March 10, 2009 at 10:27 PM  

Thank you for just causing me to literally laugh out loud at the "But you don't look like my dog" comment. That just made my day :-).

Anonymous,  March 11, 2009 at 8:24 AM  

You must have a pow wow with my mom when you're back in Fondy about the nuances of 2nd grade. It's amazing the things this woman finds funny...I think she has to find them amusing or go else she'd go completely postal.


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