Monday, October 6, 2008

Room 341

Some days I am hard-pressed to keep myself from laughing at my students. It’s not a mocking, condescending laugh that I have to stifle, but a gleeful chortle that is provoked when they do the darndest things.

Just the other day there was one such giggle-inducing incident. One of my students, Freddy was not following my instructions, so he had to change his stick color (this is one of the greatest tragedies a third grader can face in room 341). As he was slowly walking to change his stick color, Justin ran up to me, panting and a little bit panicked and said, “Miss Jackson, Freddy just said the ‘s’ word!” I grimaced, and called Freddy over, prepared to have him change his stick color again.

I sternly looked at Freddy and quietly asked him what word he had just said. He looked down , guilty but silent. “Come on Freddy, you need to tell me. I already know what you said, but it’s important that you accept responsibility.”
“I don’t want to say it out loud”.
“Then write it down Freddy.” I pushed a pad of hot pink post-its across my desk and waited for him to write the word. He finished writing and looked up at me expectantly. The note pad said, “Stid”.
“Try again Freddy. Sound it out.”
“Sitpaid”. I looked up from the pad again at Freddy’s downcast face. Apparently he and I need to work on spelling.
“Freddy, it is important that you accept responsibility so that you can begin to change your attitude and behavior. If you won't tell me the word, then tell me what it rhymes with."
“Nothing Miss Jackson, it doesn’t rhyme with anything.” Freddy’s eyes began to well up with tears of shame.
“Does it rhyme with ‘hit’?” He shook his head.
I called Justin over. Maybe his spelling would be better. “Justin, will you please write the word you just heard Freddy say?” Justin carefully printed the terrible word across the hot pink sticky note. I picked it up. Finally, the long-awaited word: “Stupid.”

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