It's March! And with it comes Madness, as all good college hoops fans know. Nevermind the ladies at my old place of employment who thought, when I suggested adding March Madness activities to the calendar, thought I was suggestion a shopping bonanza.
Since it's the beginning of a new month, I am posting another sample chapter of my work in progress -- Learn Me Gooder! This chapter is all about a common enemy of every teacher -- Tattling.
Enjoy, and as always, feedback is appreciated!
Date: Friday, November 20, 2009
To: Fred Bommerson
From: Jack Woodson
Subject: Whose whine is it anyway?
In case I haven't mentioned it, my class this year is extremely immature. I've never had so many kids that still suck their thumbs, display a total lack of listening skills, and repeatedly do the same things over and over and over again, despite being told not to. Case in point, Patty, who, even after all this time, continues to get in trouble for talking in the hall.
I also notice that many of my kids have a supreme sense of responsibility when it comes to OTHER kids in the room, but they can't seem to look after themselves. They are so worried about the kids around them no following the rules, but they never seem to notice when they're not following the rules themselves.
I think it's great for kids to take on responsibility, but one of my boys, Bobby, always winds up taking responsibility AWAY from somebody else. I'll ask one of the kids to hold open a door so the class can walk through, and seconds later I'll turn around and Bobby will be holding the door. Or someone in my class will ask if they can take a basketball out to recess, yet Bobby is always the one who winds up holding the ball after lunch.
Maybe he's been reading his Spiderman comics backwards again and thinks that with great responsibility comes great power.
Yesterday, with a few minutes before the bell rang at the end of the day, I asked everyone to clean up the area around their desk, as I always do before we leave the classroom. Usually, it's the kids with the lumber yard right under their desk that ignore me and keep talking, while the kids with a few atoms of dust under their desk are lying prostrate on the floor, trying to make it clean enough to perform surgery.
As I'm asking everyone to look on the floor around them, I'm looking directly at several scraps of crayon wrapper right underneath Bobby's chair. Rather than looking around his own area and picking up the trash, Bobby notices that Nolan, on the other side of the room, has a small piece of an eraser under his chair. So Bobby goes running towards Nolan's chair, does a power slide on his knees that would make Tenacious D weep with joy, and picks up the eraser. Then he looks at me like I'm going to award him the Silver Star Award.
Mrs. Bird has started calling him, "The Sheriff."
Still, the worst of it all is the tattling. I know, I know, I should be used to it by now. After all, tattling in grade school is like the kilt in Scotland – ever present, expected even, but never welcome. Nevertheless, it continues to annoy me.
I think that if teachers didn't receive any base salary at all, but they were given $25 every time one of their students tattled on someone, they could all retire to the Bahamas by the end of the second year.
There is a significant difference between telling the teacher something and telling ON someone. For instance if Susie is hanging upside down from the monkey bars by her shoestrings and can't get down, then yes, that's something I need to know. However, I think I can do without hearing that Billy laughed when Peter dribbled chocolate milk down his chin.
There are many cases when I just have to fight mightily to resist the sarcastic response.
Student X: Jimmy pointed his middle finger at me!
Me: Really? Then he's not doing it correctly.
Student X: She called my momma fat!
Me: Your momma is not fat. But does she ever Porky Pig?
Here onboard the Tattlestar Galactica, two of my kids take things to the extreme.
I have unofficially given Puddy the cabinet post of Tattle Tale General, since he assaults my ears as soon as he sees me each morning, laying out the general school population’s misdeeds with military precision.
"Sir, status report, Sir! Tommy kicked Lisa's book bag, Kelly was making faces at a second grader, and Donnell is jangling pennies in his pocket. In world news, Lindsay Lohan was busted on DUI charges again."
Then there's Janice, who is constantly tattling about someone or something. And apparently, to anyone who will listen. This morning, her class was entering the cafeteria for lunch, and I exited through the other cafeteria door, behind her class, so she was not aware that I was standing there. I actually witnessed her tattle on one of her classmates to some random woman walking down the hall! It was probably some poor second-grader's mother, just minding her own business, suddenly accosted by a little girl claiming, "Excuse me, Miss, he just hit me!"
Of course, this lady was able to do what I always wish I COULD do. She kept her eyes straight ahead, didn't make eye contact, and just kept on walking.
Mrs. Frisch told me that she told her kids at the beginning of the year that she doesn't want to hear any complaining, unless it involves one of the 3 B's – Barfing, Bleeding, or Broken. Of course, she has to deal with Roy'al every day, so I think tattling is the least of her worries.
I've overheard Mrs. Bird on more than one occasion tell one of our kids to, "Save it for tattle-time." The trick here is that there never IS a tattle-time, but the kids don't seem to catch on to this.
I'm considering creating a tattle patsy. This will be a stuffed animal, or a poster, or even just a stapler – something that I can send the kids to when they really, really have to tell on someone. After all, Janice and others like her just want to speak the words into the air anyway, regardless of who is listening.
I just need to be sure that "Tattle Toby," the stuffed elephant, has eyes that can roll.
Penn and Teller