Sunday, June 12, 2016

An Unexpected End

Yesterday was the last day of school and vacation is HERE!  After a pretty good year, the last day of school DID NOT go off without a hitch.  Here's why...
The last week of school is pretty useless with regards to learning.  We've taken all our tests, turned in or stored our books, packed away our materials in order to prepare for closing up the room for the summer.  In some respects it's a fun week because of our many activities planned to pass the time.  This week, we performed our play, there was a Board Game Day, a field trip to the beach, a Field Day with water games, a class party, a dance party, and an autograph/memory book activity.  On the other hand, for some kids the lack of routine and procedure is difficult.  On Friday, the excitement was too much and many a 2nd grader lost their mind.
We started the morning with our grade level dance party.  For about 30 minutes we go into the cafeteria, play some fun music and dance.  The kids get their wiggles out and after all is said and done it takes up about 45 minutes of, what seems like, the longest school day of the year.  After the dance party, we headed back to the room to pick up our autograph/memory books.  The kids had spent the week getting them ready for their friends to write messages inside.  We took them out into our quad area and gave them some time to mingle and sign and enjoy their friends before summer break started.  And about 15 minutes in, some of them enjoyed it a bit too much.  One of the kids came running up to us concerned over kids writing on the trees.  A couple of us ran over to the two trees in the middle of the quad, and sure enough, several kids had signed their name on the tree trunks.  Some of them had even signed MY name on the trunks!
We were livid!  Autograph day ended for those kids, and they were sent to sit against the wall of the classrooms.  There we laid into them about vandalism and their lack of respect for school property.  We also told them how disappointed and embarrassed we were by their behavior.  We wanted the kids to clean the trees as most were written in pencil or water-based pen, so we called the assistant principal to help us arrange that and to come yell at them some more.
While I was on the phone, one of my teammates found another student who had written on the trees.  This student had some defiance issues throughout the year.  When she was told to sit with the others, she did not, instead sitting off on her own by her own classroom.  Her teacher, who had had enough, wasn't going to fight that fight on the last day of school, so I offered to go get her.  At first, I kindly but firmly told her to join the rest of the students.  Instead of following that direction, she gave me an emphatic "NO".  Teachers spend the majority of their giving directions and expecting them to be followed.  This adamant "No" didn't sit well. I knelt down to her level, got in her face a bit, and told her to get up immediately.  She shook her head.  At that point, I should have walked away.  I didn't really care where she was sitting, it was just the point of not following the directions of two teachers at this point.  She covered her face with her autograph book.  I took it away and then reached for the red permanent marker she had in her hand.  She immediately pulled her hand away and hid it behind her back.  I told her that what she did was vandalism and that was against the law.  Since she was not able to use the pen correctly, she didn't get to keep it.  After my little spiel, she looked right at me and in a growling voice said, "I'd rather eat dirt."  At that point, I walked away because I was about ready to wring her little neck or feed her a pile of dirt.
The AP arrived shortly afterwards to speak to those kids, and the teachers brought the rest of the students back into the classrooms.  When they returned to class it was lunch time.  The kids were sent to lunch and those who wrote on the trees were tasked with cleaning them during their recess time.  I walked over to the other classroom to commiserate with that child's teacher and was surprised to see that teacher's name and room number written on the sidewalk by her door IN FREAKING RED PEN!  This little girl refused to move even for the AP and while the AP spoke with the other children, she wrote on the sidewalk with her permanent marker.  At that point, the child's mother was called to take her home.  What a way to end your last day of 2nd grade.  On a high note, the rest of the kids were remorseful.  One even told me on our way to dismissal a couple hours later that he was NEVER going to write on a tree again.  Good idea!
As excited as I am to be on break, the day did not end as I thought it would.


  1. I admire you more than you can possibly know. I am truly thankful for those (like you) who choose to teach our children and I can tell from what you share here that you do it well.

    Just reading about your last day made my blood boil! I was great with my kids and their contemporaries while they were growing up, but I find my patience has worn thin with age (even with my grandkids!).

    I hope you enjoy your much deserved summer break!!

    1. I'm already enjoying it greatly! I've got a week to decompress before going back in the following week for curriculum work, but after that I literally have plans to do absolutely nothing on most days. And I CAN NOT wait! :)
      There are times, like Friday, where it is a great challenge to have patience. Most of the time those days are few and far between (although every few years you have days like that EVERY DAY). As someone without kids of my own, I probably have much less tolerance than those who have kids, and I have very high expectations for their behavior. And sometimes, the schools are the only ones who have those expectations. Poor parenting isn't a new problem, but in my 16 year career it is more common than it was when I started. But I also know that kids are kids and sometimes they are impulsive and make STUPID decisions. The tree tagging was one of those times. Most of the group was a pleasure to teach this year - good kids, hardworking families. I can't say that though about the "eat dirt" child though. Each issue that child had this year was blamed on her teacher rather than the child's behavior. That is what makes my blood boil!

  2. I saw this yesterday but I had to have a wee think before I responded.
    The tagging is just hi-jinks in my opinion and probably something they've seen older in their wider circle doing and assumed, reasonably enough, that it was OK.
    The other one is a different matter. That a kid would be so defiant of major adults I feel is indicative of something more. They may be doing so because they've absorbed these people are 'safe'. Something that may well be very lacking elsewhere in their lives.

    Delighted you are on your holidays even if you are going to be working for part of it :-).

    1. Only working for a week, though! We ended early this year and aren't starting until mid August so it'll still be a nice long break to do nothing. :)
      Yes, the incidents are quite different. It would have a been a very different year had I dealt with the defiance on a regular basis. Although, it bums me out to have ended the year reprimanding the kids I did have...stupid kids! ;)

  3. yikes that does not sound fun at all. but yay for summer vacations!

    1. Definitely Yay! I'm already enjoying it thoroughly. :)