Make ’em cry

It's not easy being ten.

It’s not easy being ten.

The bad day. A concept humanity is familiar with both intimately and idealistically. In the course of history, it has borne the brunt of the blame for our short tempers, our lack of focus, our apathy and our overwhelming desires to eat everything within reach.

Sometimes I have bad days and sometimes I just think I am having a bad day. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’ve had one until I get home and wonder why I feel so tired.

There are three things I think we need to keep in mind about these kinds of days.

1. Everyone has bad days – even children.

As students, we often only see our own late homework and failed tests. We only feel our own itches, hear our own stomachs growling and think about our own feelings. As a teacher, you see, feel, hear and think about your entire class from the first day of school to… Well, I’m not sure if it ever goes away.

Today I had to substitute for another teacher so instead of having fourteen fourth graders, I had thirty. Thirty ten-year olds, when you’re not expecting them, are like thirty hungry lions and you’re the piece of meat. But they paw at each other also and today the boys were particularly rowdy – it’s been about 90 degrees all week so no one is in a good mood.

Still, I was surprised to see one of the sweetest, gentlest, nicest boys in class (we’ll call him Vlada) smack someone on the head and a few minutes later shove a punch at his best friend’s jaw. Continue reading


Give a girl a chalkboard…

My work shoes, covered in chalk and ready to call it quits for the day.

My work shoes, covered in chalk and ready to call it quits for the day.

I distinctly remember the first profound thought I had as a kid – that is to say, the first big thought, beyond “I like fish sticks,” “This girl is weird,” and “Why does Deborah get shoes with Dalmatians and I don’t?” I was sitting in my kindergarten class, cringing as the teacher scribbled on the chalkboard. Every week I told myself the scratching chalk wouldn’t bother me anymore, but every week it did. As I sat crisscross-applesauce on the dusty floor with my little fingers awkwardly plugging my ears I thought to myself, “This will bother me the rest of my life…That could be a problem.”

It is a problem.

Never did I assume I would become a school teacher, though it is one of the jobs I have romanticized about over the years. And all the things I thought I would love about teaching, I do. I love kids saying ‘hello’ to me in the hallway (I LOVE my students). I love pulling little people out of their comfort zones and showing them how much they can accomplish. I love pinning things on my noticeboard in my office (which I also love).

But the chalkboard…

Continue reading