“All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance.”
- John Lennon. Song “Give Peace a Chance”
Daylight savings time: how could something that makes evenings, especially in the summer, so lovely, start with such a bad first Monday? Even though I always know it’s coming, somehow I’m never quite prepared. Does this happen to you? When I awoke on Sunday morning, I was happy that the clock read 8:30 am, which would give me a couple of relaxing hours before we left for my husband’s run.
While I sat in the living room, my husband mentioned his race a couple of times. I chalked it up to him being anxious. Then he said something about leaving around 10:15 am, and it dawned on me – I’d actually woken up at 9:30 and it was now 10:00. He wanted to leave in fifteen minutes. All that reminding and I’d never bothered changing my alarm clock.
This morning at 5:25am, the same alarm clock (now set to the correct time) sounded, and I got up, mourning the loss of light that I’d appreciated for the last few weeks. When you already wake up early, losing an hour’s sleep is cruel. As I write this, I can barely string sentences together because I’m still feeling the ill effects of sleep deprivation. It reminds me of having an infant who wakes up a couple of times in the middle of the night for feedings. At 6:02 am, the gatekeeper called me with a kindergarten job. I suspected that the only people who would handle the lost hour worse than me would be five-year-olds.
This was no ordinary kindergarten sub job. I would be at the Spanish immersion school, which aimed to have half native English speakers and half native Spanish speakers. Although I have a friend who has had two children go through the system, I didn’t remember how it worked in kindergarten. The older students had their classes in either English or Spanish by subject, but I figured kindergartners needed more stability.
The building is actually two schools. I’d only taught at this school three times. Art and Music had classes from both schools. The third time was for Science for the other school. I’d never taught in a Spanish classroom.
I got there nice and early and (of course) the door was locked. The next-door teacher got the custodian to open the door for me. He and I noticed how cold the room was and he said he’d come back to repair the heater. (He never did - even when I notified the office after lunch.) I knew there would at least be another full-time assistant whom I assumed would take over the class if Spanish were required. Then I found the plans and I hoped my assumption was correct because the entire two pages of plans were in Spanish. Underneath was the lesson plan book, also in Spanish.
The assistant arrived just as the bell rang and told me that the students alternated between English and Spanish days. Luckily for me, it was a SPANISH DAY. (Oy veh!) It just went downhill from there.
I follow two kindergarten teachers’ blogs faithfully. “Look at My Happy Rainbow” had a post on Friday where he gave a glimpse of a typical schedule*. “Veteran Kindergarten Teacher” wrote a recent post about discipline** (And check out her funny post on daylight savings time***). I thought of these two teachers and their experiences as I endured this one. The assistant wouldn’t stop when students were talking, but would continue with the lesson. If a child misbehaved, the threat of the “take a break” chair (called out from her teaching spot) was given starting at 9:00 am, but the first timeout wasn’t given until 10:30.
Many of these students were OUT OF CONTROL:
“Say it again and I’m going to smash your face.”
Pointing to a girl’s potbelly, which showed under her shirt. “Ewwww!”
“You’re an idiot. Idiot. Idiot. Idiot.”
I witnessed many instances of tackling and hitting. One boy kept picking his nose and leaving what he found in interesting places (under the rug, on the cord of the shade, his shoulder). Another boy chewed his sleeve most of the day. When it was soaked and stretched out, resembling a bell, he flopped it in a girl’s face. As I escorted him to the take a break chair, his sleeve touched my hand. Based on these two boys, I washed my hands A LOT. They’re nice and chapped now.
Normally, I have a plethora of cute tales to tell, but not today. There was one sweet boy, and I did a fun math assignment with the kids where they had to measure paper tracings of their classmates’ and teachers’ feet with snap cubes, but while that was going on, I was also supposed to supervise the tape playing area, which kept attracting the more difficult children in the class.
I thought, perhaps, that the kids were acting worse because their regular teacher wasn’t there, but from what the assistant said, I don’t think it’s much better. In this class, the discipline problem children overshadowed the sweet kids who paid attention. After a couple of hours, I stopped taking the assistant’s lead and would go right down to the child’s level and state my expectation. When the child misbehaved again, I’d face the child again and say; “Now it’s time for you to take a break.”
One promising part of the classroom was a “Peace Corner”, which had a beanbag. Two times, children had issues and parked themselves there to resolve them. And it worked. If only it had been a Peace Room.
* Read his heartwarming and funny day:
** Here’s her discipline post:
*** Her daylight savings time post: