Friday, August 29, 2008

Teaching colors to monkeys

Can it really be that two weeks of school has already slipped behind us?  Well, apparently it has but lousy, someone has surely sped up the clocks lately haven't they?!  I don't even think my crows feet and previously mentioned gray hairs can keep up with this new time pace the world seems to have taken to.  

Now that first week WAS super busy with non stop school related action.  I was up at both the boys schools at different points throughout the week either helping file the massive amounts of registration forms each student turned in at the third through fifth grade building. Or I was busy helping the tiny cuties sharpen their pencils and find their red crayons to color their first of many theme related coloring pages at Dandy's school.  I even sang along in my best school marm voice to the hit song

R-E-D red
R-E-D red
I can spell red.
I can spell red.
Fire trucks are red.
Stop signs are red too.

To tell you the truth, spelling "red" is actually the easiest part of learning to go to kindergarten.  Boy those kids were ca-raze-y!  I just don't know how teachers of first year students handle all of those little bodies going every which way and doing everything BUT spelling or coloring anything resembling red!  

When I arrived in one of the classes after lunch on the first day, I went straight to the class who's teacher had been called away to jury duty for her whole first week of school (Bless her heart).  Now, the sub was doing the best she could (now bless hers) on such short notice, but 23 five year-olds who barely know their own names in a new setting, is hard on even a seasoned prepared teach!

As the kids were supposed to be napping but were instead doing the worm on their mats and scooting from one side of the room to the other with a stream of endless chatter, "Teacher, what's this?!", pointing to a bolt on the chair. "Teacher, when do we get to leave?", "Teacher, my eyes are burning." One child was granted permission to go to the bathroom and I volunteered to escort him there.  Well, that was of course a GREAT way for bored nappers to pass the time, so pretty soon bladders were spontaneously filling and kids were getting up to crowd around their new diversion: Me.  I was starting to get a little nervous at this point because these were not orderly young Vontraps eagerly lining up to their own distinct whistle calls.  No, these were ferrel kinder pupae who at this point all looked EXACTLY the same to me!  I didn't really know how to contain them or keep them straight.  

My concerns became very real to me as I almost immediately lost all eight of them at the end of the hall into a  great sea of classes who's teachers had decided to declare a universal bathroom break and took to the halls by the dozen. 

Neither my little troop nor I knew how to take turns in the mass urination process, so we all just dispersed into different directions, some against walls with other classes to get in line, some went straight in to the toilet area, and some (me) just sort of did a clumsy pirouette as confused new students passed on either side causing me to turn myself round and round straining to see if there were any familiar faces from the short walk from our classroom.  

The teachers of the hallway classes all looked my way with pity and a hint of disgust.  I felt bad because someone's child could have easily gone down the toilet and been roaming the sewers unbeknownst to me and would never get the sheer joy of hearing me sing the R-E-D song later that afternoon.  I really had no clue how to get them all back to the room from which we came.  And neither did they.  

In fact, at the very same time I was losing 6-7 clonelike children (The eighth one I had fully in my sites.), the principal and an assembled posse with walkie-talkies were describing one particular little girl with milk carton concern.  I heard them telling what she was supposedly wearing  and saying things like " "You try the East wing!" and other uncomfortable sentences like "We've got the doors locked down and there's no one on the playground."   Yikes.

I decided that I would just pretend like whatever little children remained after the congestion subsided, would be the group I take back to my assigned classroom. And then, if there seemed to be some discrepancies when each child found his or her desk, we'd go from there.  

It all turned out better than fine because the missing "purple dress with a flower on it" girl actually was sleeping in OUR classroom!  By the time I got in there, someone in the walkie-talkie group was guiding a drowsy Goldilocks  back to her assigned room and  once again all Kindy classes were accounted for.  I was not the only one confused that day.  There are probably more than 13 classes in each grade so this school is always an absolute beehive of activity on the first day of each new year.

The rest of the day we stayed safely in our room singing those perky songs and coloring with fresh new crayons.  It was cute how some of them didn't know which crayon was red even after we learned the song.  Oh what simple beginnings we come from.  

One precious tiny boy, who appeared to mumble quietly in a language I couldn't make out(perhaps Farsi, perhaps English), kept methodically going over to his backpack and loading up all of his supplies.  The sub or I would walk over and say "These stay right here Soandso.  This is YOUR cubby and your crayons will be here for you when you come back tomorrow."  He'd give an unintelligible  but unemotional argument and allow us to escort him back to his desk, only to start the whole cycle over. He must have done that eight or more times in about a two hour period.  It was quite peculiar to me but also so endearing.  Poor little guy probably has to learn English as well as adjusting to a school environment.  

I left school that day feeling like Dandy, with all of his delays and physical challenges, might just pull off this Kindergarten thing.  Of course, that same day, in a room around the corner from ours, some other parent was probably kindly unpacking my boy's bag over and over, pointing him back to his chair.  Only time will tell I suppose.  Happy weekend all!


SlushTurtle said...

Oh my. I will be such a complete and total wreck when Hatchling goes to K next year. And now I have to worry about people losing him! Yikes!!!

dive said...

Oh, my. With a side order of hee hee, Shan.
I must offer an apology as someone who designs schools for a living. We do not deliberately design them to be confusing places full of hidey holes, but children en masse are uncontrollable.
And they get worse as they get older … We have to use prison spec hardware as the precious little darlings will destroy anything less and we fit all cupboards with 5-lever securiy locks as they pick normal ones.
A few years back we discovered a small community of feral girls had set up their own town inside the roof and storage buildings of one of our schools; they had mattresses, booze, drugs, cigarettes, porn, knives, stolen goods and goodness knows what else stashed away in there … and these were the twelve and thirteen year old "precious darlings" in a top girls' private school.
Sheesh …
Whenever I visit our schools I want to go equipped with a cattle prod and a box of stun grenades.
Good luck!

Bekah said...

I love to hear that Siloam is still teaching all the color songs. I honestly kept my little ones books and just pulled those out the other day to teach to the younger siblings.
That's how you spell brown.
Chocolate milk is always brown.....
Those were the best little songs ever!

RoverHaus said...

Shan, you're hilarious.

I'm going to try to work in that phrase "mass urination process" into a conversation this week!

Anonymous said...

"No, these were ferrel kinder pupae who at this point all looked EXACTLY the same to me! I didn't really know how to contain them or keep them straight."
Wow, what a vocab!!! This is before finishing school right?
Wow, I am so impressed.

dean r said...

what a wonderful account. i always say i can't go lower then 6th! no thanks! I used to visit sis Jennifer when she was an assistang to 1st grade teachers next to my school and It was hilarious to see her guiding and herding a bunch of 1st graders around. ha ha. I would have LOVED to seen you coping with all... hee hee hee.

Suzanne said...

Oh how wonderfully entertaining, once again at your expense. I so enjoy your posts. The girls actually went to PS for 2 months in K and 1st and I voluteered a couple of times. It was interesting to say the least. I just found our g-r-e-e-n book this past month clearing out the mounds of books we'll never use.

Maria said...

Before I had to return to the workaday world, I used to volunteer at Liv's school every day during lunchtime. I ended up in charge of the pre-school lunches and in Liv's small school, this was only 30 children, but it felt like 300 sometimes. I opened more juice boxes and grew to DETEST those awful Chef Boyardee ravioli cans with those snap top lids...

And now, would you believe that I miss it...

Shelley said...

OH the laugh-out-louds!Thank you thank you. I had to read half of this entry out loud to Dan but I could hardly get through it. The picture of the kids doing the worm and pointing to bolts and talking about their eyes burning--the glee! Dan said in his best english teacherly manner "good use of quotes to make the writing vivid!"
I'm am sufficiently slayed.

I NEEDED to laugh today.

Missy said...

Orderly young Vontraps.... You crack me up! I don't know how Kim deals with that every day.