Monday, January 12, 2004

Good morning, Ms. Frizzle

Arrived at school about 25 minutes before homeroom today, early for me. I'd like to arrive earlier, but I have a 1 1/4 hour commute... but that's another story. Anyway, I was the first teacher to arrive, the usual earlybird having had a boiler problem. There, at my door, was Jesus.

I have written about Jesus briefly, back in the early fall. He is, in many ways, my Charles: full of energy, generally good-intentioned though mischievous and impulsive (impulsive as heck!), spoiled rotten by his mother, perhaps a touch ADHD.

"What are you doing here so early?" I asked.

"I came up early to help you take the chairs down!" he said, grinning. Last Friday, when he was restless during homeroom, I gave him the job of taking all the chairs down off the tables before the other students came in.

"Um... that's nice of you. But how did you get in?" Usually the early bird teacher lets students in through our school's entrance - and not before 7:55. Kids who arrive earlier and don't want to wait outside can go to the cafeteria for breakfast, but again, the security guard at the main entrance doesn't let them come upstairs before teachers arrive - it's a big no-no.

"I came in through the other door." Pointing in many different directions at once.

"Which door? Our entrance, or the main entrance?"

"Yeah, that's it, the main entrance. On the side."

"Okay, well, Jesus, it's really nice of you to want to help, but you're not supposed to be up here before your teachers come in. If you get here early, you should go to the cafeteria and wait, or wait outside by our door."

"Oh. Okay. How will I know when you get here so I can come take the chairs down? Will you come get me from the cafeteria when you come?"

"Er.... no, I'm usually in a hurry when I arrive... you can take them down when normal homeroom starts, if you're the first one in."

I hate to squash a student's enthusiasm for helping like that, but students are simply not allowed to come up early, and I really AM in a hurry in the mornings. Still, Jesus got a lot done and was in a very pleasant mood all day.

In my old school, there were so many behavior problems that it was hard to sort out what to do about any one child. Kids like Jesus were just dealt with the way everyone else was - detention, calls home, etc. Here, where the chaos is less (and much more productive!), I can see what a boy like Jesus needs: as many opportunities to move around in positive ways as possible, as many opportunities to exercise his good intentions as possible, opportunities to apologize and make retribution* when his impulsiveness gets the best of him, and a teacher with the patience of a Zen master. Alas, that is not me - yet.

*For example, the other day, Melinda was bringing back to the school the candy she did not succeed in selling in a fundraiser, along with money for the candy she did sell. Before school started, Jesus took one of her candies and was playing with it, and the bag opened - and I genuinely believe he didn't mean it. When I talked to him about it - calmly - he paid her back a dollar to make up for the fact that she could no longer sell the candy. Case closed. Lesson learned (I hope).

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