Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Well Intentioned Untruths

It’s just part of life that you remember who peed their pants and cried in second grade. You remember the kid who ate his scabs and the girl who got gum caught in her hair and had to have it cut out, making her look really bad. You remember their names. And use them when you get older.

As a teacher, I am faced with weird predicaments on a daily basis.  I always worry about the kid who puts an eraser in his mouth,

the girl who continually rocks on her chair, the boy who plays with pencils.  So, I bring up names from the past.  “Do you want to end up like Kenny Myers?” I asked today.  A kid put an eraser in his mouth. They know a story is coming.

“Well, in fifth grade, I watched Kenny swallow a bic pen cap. They had to take him to the hospital and have his stomach pumped. His parents had to pay a huge bill just because Kenny put something in his mouth that wasn’t food. So, if you want to end up like Kenny Myers, put a pen cap in your mouth.”

I have no idea what happened to Kenny. He may have swallowed the little blue part on the other end. I didn’t see it. I heard about it. And remembered it, I guess, so I could pull a story out of the “Useless Information” file I have stored in my brain. Now, you have to understand that my kids know I am pulling their leg, so they just sit there, smiling. They are in fourth grade and understand what’s going on.  But, they also know that I have drifted off topic once again. They keep tally marks.

I have another student who rocks on her chair. They know that that is the number one no-no in my classroom. I hate rocking on chairs. My son was a notorious rocker. He still rocks on his chair. He is 25 years old, and I had to tell him to quit rocking  just last week. I don’t know why it bugs me so much. Probably because of what happened to Joey Minco.  Years ago, I was sitting next to Joey and he was rocking on his chair. He then tipped back too far and went back, hitting his head on the corner of a desk and then landing smack on his head.

“He cracked his head open and had to go to the hospital. Joey had a lot of problems remembering his name after that. So, please quit rocking, unless you want to end up like Joey Minco..or whatever his name is…” Lie. Joe Minco was an old man who lived across the street from me.

On breaking pencils on purpose- “Do you want to end up like George Dragovich? (Another old neighbor. I have no idea why I use neighbors from my youth.)  George broke the tips off of the pencils so he would be able to get up in front of everyone to sharpen his pencil. He slipped on a piece of paper on the floor and landed on the pencil. It just missed his eye and the lead is still under his skin right here…(as I point near the corner of my eye.) So, if you don’t want to end up like George Dragovich, quit breaking your pencils on purpose.”

Chewing 23 pieces of gum at the same time- “Are you chewing gum? Do you want to know why I don’t allow chewing gum in my classroom? When I was little, there was a girl name Ethel Mertz  (sometimes tv character names come out of my mouth). Ethel was very poor. Her dad worked very hard to save up so Ethel could have a brand new dress. He bought it for her for her 10th birthday. She couldn’t wait to wear it to school and show off her beautiful dress. But when she sat down in her desk chair, someone had put a wad of gum on her seat, and she sat in it. Back then, you couldn’t get gum out of anything. It stained and turned dirty looking over time. Her dress was ruined and school hadn’t even started yet….

And you know who put the gum on her seat?….No, not me…..Joey Minco. He thought it was the wastepaper basket.”

Walking down the hall at the end of the day with a sucker in their mouth- “Hey! You’re not allowed to have suckers in school…..Why, when I was little, I had a sucker in my mouth and fell down the steps and you know what happened to me?……..A piece of the  sucker stick is still stuck in my throat. I can’t eat anything solid…So, quit walking with a sucker in your mouth unless you want to eat pudding for the rest of your life.”

On taking your shoes off in class every single day- “Please put your shoes back on. Do you want to end up like Gladys Kravitz?……Poor Gladys. She was my cousin…..WAS my cousin………..Gladys was in fourth grade, and always took her shoes off. One day there was a fire drill. They thought it was just a fire drill. Gladys took her time putting her shoes on…..when the class got outside, the teacher noticed that little Gladys was nowhere to be found….I’m not even going to tell you what happened to her. But, if you want to end up like Gladys Kravitz, go ahead and take your shoes off.”

I really can’t stop. I continually make up scenarios for kids because if you just explain why it is unsafe to rock on a chair, they won’t

remember it. But, if you give them a vivid description, something they can put a face to,or in my many cases, a name,  they will remember it. I mean, I don’t use blood or guts, because that is just wrong for a great teacher like myself to do. And I guess I should mention that the kids know I am lying, right from the beginning…but they seem to love my “Unless you want to end up like….” stories.

When I was little, my mom told me that  there was a special  place in hell for liars. I know, because Lars Peters is in hell.  My mom told me that Lars always lied and he is now in hell. “So, Vickie…if you want to go to hell like Lars Peters, keep on lying.”

Sigh……I really have become my mother.

Groundhog Day

My fourth graders love it when I get off-topic. And believe me, I do it often.  I told them a story last week that probably took me ten minutes to tell. I really should have stayed with our Reading topic, but I just had to tell them what happened to me. I thought I would share it with my blog readers.

Two weeks ago I was driving home on Boothes Creek Road. It was a nice Sunday morning and I was shopping at Walmart because I don’t know any better. Boothes Creek Road runs along a creek..duh…and there is one straight stretch that has a open field on one side and the creek on the other. Well, I was on the straight stretch, when I saw something in the middle of the road. As I slowed down, I saw that it was a groundhog. He looked like he was licking the pavement, perhaps his search for some salt. I came to a halt and gave a little honk with my horn, and the groundhog did not move.

Come on, you Groundhog you, I thought to myself. I honked again, and the darn critter was bent on licking up the road, especially the yellow line that ran through the middle. There weren’t any other cars on the road, so I got out of my car and told the little fellow to get a move on. I had my door open and I got so close to the groundhog that I thought maybe he was deaf.  When he finally saw me, he didn’t run off to the side of the road,but under my car. Oh great, now I am going to run over him for sure. So, I went around to the right side of my car and leaned over, and told the groundhog to get the hell out of the road. (I didn’t talk like this in front of my fourth graders, just in case you were wondering.)

I could see that the groundhog was on the driver side of my car now, so I ran around back of the car to shoosh him off the road, and the damn thing went INTO my Sante Fe!!!  What the hell? I have seen groundhogs in my peach tree, so I know they can climb, but this thing hopped like a rabbit right into my  seat. Oh dear God! He was all over the inside of the car, acting like a crazy person, or I guess, crazy groundhog. He wouldn’t come out because I was blocking his exit, so I thought I should open the other door. Right about now I saw a car approaching.  The car stopped, because I had my door opened and was in front of the car looking like a guy with a gun was sitting in my back seat or something.

He got out of the car and the guy looked like he was on his way to church. Or Walmart, because you know everyone dresses up to go there. As he approached me, he shut my car door. I still don’t know why he did that. “Are you ok? he asked. As soon as he shut the door and before I could say anything, the damn groundhog started pawing at the drivers’ side door window. The guy looked at me like, “Lady, you can’t have a groundhog as a pet.” I started explaining what happened, and right about then, we heard a click.

Yeah, that’s right. The damn groundhog locked himself in my car, with the motor running. Church guy said he was running late, but that he would call 911 for me, since my phone was now with “Little Piggie”. Yeah, I named him.  Poor Piggie was going crazy in my car and the windows had muddy stuff on the window and I just knew he was probably scared and peeing all over the place. Nice…

So, here comes a cop. There were a few cars that had stopped and I had 2 people just standing around, laughing at my predicament. The cop was cracking up. I used a ladies phone and called my daughter to bring me the other set of keys to me. When she got there, I unlocked the car, and opened all four doors, hoping Little Piggie would finally hop out. She did.

About that time, a stupid idiot in a truck came by and you would think he would slow down with a cop car, and 3 other cars in the road. He didn’t. And little piggie, jumped out of my car and ran right into the path of the oncoming truck.

So, I guess you want to know what happened to Little Piggie? Well, I don’t know, because I made the whole thing up…to give my class an example of “Realistic fiction”, what we were studying when I broke off and started this story.

Are you ready to kill me?  My students were. 🙂

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