Let Me Tell You about My Kids

I don't have any biological children, but I always refer to my students as though they were my children.

The upside to this is that I only have to see them for 90 minutes every other day. The downside is that, since they are not really my own kids, I can't spank them or ground them or put them in time out. And some of them really REALLY need it.

On the other hand, sometimes my kids do things that make me so proud I could just burst. Let me give you a few examples:

My speech class has an assignment to give a tour. I left it up to them what the tour would be, but it was a pretty open assignment, and I wanted them to be really prepared, so I gave them the assignment over a month ago. So it was due this week, and in one of my classes, over half of the students had not done theirs.

To say that I was mad would be an understatement of the highest order. Especially since I had reminded them EVERY DAY that it was a big project and that it was a significant part of their grade, oh, and that THEY HAD OVER A MONTH TO DO IT.

But my other class ... oh, my other class! [You're not supposed to have favorites, but I really do love my second class. That is saying a lot, since it is first period, and I usually don't like to be awakened before third].

Not only had EVERY SINGLE STUDENT in the class completed their projects, but they had really put a lot of thought into what they were talking about, and they worked hard to make their presentations interesting and unique.

One girl gave a tour of Hawaii. She brought Hawaiian punch for everybody. She also gave each person in the class a lei, a paper umbrella, a packet of trail mix, and a temporary tattoo of a hibiscus (Hawaii's state flower). She told me that she'd been planning her presentation ever since I assigned it, but I would have known that even if she hadn't said anything.

Another student gave a tour of the known universe, but he did it very differently, and he used his own strengths in his presentation. His strenghths happen to be math and science, so I kind of had to take his word that everything he was saying was true, but ... THAT IS SO CREATIVE.

And yet another student gave a tour of Washington, D.C., and she used her own photographs, which she had glued to some posterboard and then decorated, as well as a Powerpoint presentation. Obviously, she put a lot of effort into her tour, and it wasn't something that she did in five minutes during homeroom.

In contrast, today in my other(less motivated) speech class, a student gave a tour of the school using a map that is in the back of the student handbook. He had drawn out his own schedule using a pen. Woo.

In one of my study skills classes, I have this one kid who is the poster child for ADHD. He is not a bad kid; in fact, he would be absolutely delightful if he wasn't a student and if I just knew him as a neighbor kid or something. BUT! When I am trying to teach something to 32 kids, and one of them has a bad case of the verbal diarrhea, that is a problem.

So today I said, "[Student], I want you to pretend that you have been down to the tattoo parlor on the highway. And I want you to imagine that you have asked the people in there to pierce your lip, and they did--both of them--and now you have a big hoop that is connecting your lips so you cannot open them."

And you know what? He did it. He imagined his little heart out. And if he wanted to say something to me, I would say, "Write me a note," and he would. AND THAT WAS THE BEST CLASS EVER. When it was time for dismissal, he wrote me a note that said, "Can I talk know [sic]?" I gave him permission, and then the bell rang, and he left. AWESOME.

As we get close to the end of the semester, I know I am not going to teach the kids anything new, and we are just reviewing at this point. But sometimes the review doesn't take the entire 90 minutes, and I know that they are reviewing in all their classes, so I try to cut them a break every once in a while.

And the miracle that I have discovered for keeping kids quiet but occupied is this: WORDSEARCH. They will hunt those words down until they've found every last one. They take those wordsearches seriously, far more seriously than they take their vocabulary tests, for instance. But I don't care; if someone walks by, those kids are working and they're not causing problems and we're all happy.

And those are my kid stories for this week. This time next week, I WILL BE ON CHRISTMAS BREAK!

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