Candid Teacher's Classroom

The view from the other side of the desk.

I Did It by Myself! February 11, 2011

Filed under: education,just for fun,Kindergarten,teaching — candidteacher @ 12:12 am

Candid Teacher Admits: The funniest moments are often also the most “interesting” at the time.

My first year of teaching came with many, many challenges.  I had 24 diverse students, a half-day aide who was little to no help, a belittling and degrading principal, no allies on the kindergarten staff, lived on my own & alone for the first time, and found myself spiraling into a schedule of work-eat-sleep-repeat.

However, that first year also brought me a very, shall we say, spirited group of students.  They were full of personality, if you will.  One student was very immature and, though he was technically “potty trained”, he was not able to wipe himself after a bowel movement.

Oh yes, buckle up.

So, one lovely day in my kindergarten classroom, this child disappeared for a good 10 minutes before I wondered why he was still in the bathroom.  I knocked on the door and heard sobs coming from the other side.  I opened the door a bit (without looking in, of course), and asked the distressed student what was wrong.  Though I had to ask him to repeat himself a number of times before I understood him, he finally wailed, “I cannot wipe myself!”

Oh, hell no.  This was not in the job description.

So, I called the nurse and she came while I took the rest of the students to their scheduled special.  She explained that he would not wipe himself without baby wipes.  So, in collaboration with his mother, we determined that he would carry some baby wipes in a ziploc in his pocket while he learned to clean himself up properly.

Months went by and one routine day, the aforementioned student rocketed out of the bathroom at full speed with an air of excitement and pride.  He hustled over to where I was seated across the room working with another student.  As he neared me, he shouted my name and then placed his hand on my cheek, “Miss S,” he said, “I did it! I did it by myself!  I wiped myself up!”  He was so excited, and I didn’t want to dampen his happiness, but he was standing far too close (and let’s not forget that his precariously placed hand, which was just used in the act of “wiping”, was on my cheek). “That’s great!  Did you remember to wash your hands really well, too?”  I asked with what I hoped sounded like genuine enthusiasm.  “Uh huh!” he replied with a nod.

After more congratulatory words, I got a baby wipe and bathed my face with it.  Though I scrubbed vigorously, it felt as though that hand was still there, burning a hole of feces into my skin (though I must say, I didn’t actually see any evidence on the child’s hand).  Then, I forced the incident out of my mind until I could get home and properly wash my face.

That child’s victory, no matter how interesting its nature, is something that will always stay with me.  I wonder if it holds as much meaning to him.

Candid Teacher


A Difficult Student Made My Day! February 1, 2011

Filed under: education,teaching — candidteacher @ 12:39 am

Candid Teacher Admits: A difficult student made my whole day.   To her I say: thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have a second grade student who is particularly difficult.  Though she isn’t a behavior problem in the typical “bad attitude” sense, she doesn’t adjust well to change, gets frustrated very easily, has low self-esteem, finds it difficult to focus, and for the most part, she lives in her own fantasy world in which she aspires to be a reindeer (I wish I was joking about the last part, but I’m not).

I was worried about her today because I knew her teacher was absent.  A change like this, especially on a Monday, can really throw off any student, let alone one who thrives on structure.  So, I was pleasantly surprised when she bounded into my room and presented me with a colored picture of a peacock that she had made for me during recess the period earlier.  I thanked her with a hug and a generous amount of compliments, and in turn she did great work for me.
At the end of each reading period, she almost always hangs around to talk to me one-on-one because I have asked her to save any conversation that IS NOT related to our activities until the end, and if she does she can talk to me for a few minutes after everyone else leaves.  So today, she told me that she made me the picture because, “You’re a very nice teacher and you’re fun.”  This is high praise coming from an eight-year-old, especially her.  (She was the student who whined, “I hate reading, so you better have some fun activities planned,” on our first meeting, so you can imagine how much this means to me.)  I hung her picture up on the wall and she beamed with pride.  Knowing her picture is there and how special it is to me will hopefully help boost her confidence and continue helping her produce the best work she possibly can.

So thank you, my “difficult” second grader, for making my day.

Candid Teacher