Saturday, January 09, 2010

It's Not Just A Job, It's An Adventure: Snow, Easels, Etch-A-Sketch, And Some Etiquette

Well, I'm back at The Rock after a bit of a Break, and trust me, it was a Monumental Struggle Of Epic Proportion for everyone concerned. Thank goodness that The Longest Week Ever In The History Of Education was cut short by a Snow Day on Friday. (Best Christmas present of all!)

Here for you are 3 vignettes from Room 245, where the students are sometimes very human, and all of us learn more than just English and American Lit.

I. D's & Sympathy

Scene opens on active classroom. Students are paired off discussing the life and works of Emily Dickinson in preparation for presentations. Teacher circulates while keeping despairing eye on windows which give a wide view of ever-increasing snow outside.

Dylan: (calls teacher over for assistance) Mrs. D., can you help us a minute?
Mrs. D.: Of course. (walks over, sits down next to student)
Dylan: Are you alright? You look...I don't know. Not real good. (quickly) No offense.
Mrs. D. : That's okay. No, I'm fine. I just detest this weather. It won't stop snowing, it's freezing, the sun hasn't been out for a hundred years, and I just hate it. It's absolutely miserable and horrid. I just hate it here.
Dylan: Yeah. I know. (pats her hand sympathetically) How long ago did you move here?
Mrs. D.: What?
Dylan: How long ago did you move here? Where did you live before?
Mrs. D.: Right here! I've always lived right here. And I've always hated it. Now (brightly)...what was your question, sweetheart? About Miss Emily, I mean.
End scene.

II. Easel Does It

Scene opens on empty classroom during class change. As students begin to filter in, teacher is at the front of the room adjusting the easel to be used for visual displays during Emily Dickinson presentations. Students Brandon and Elijah come up to seats near teacher desk.

Brandon: Wow! An easel! Just like elementary school. I remember how my teacher used to use the easel for this big writing paper, and she used to show huge letters on these big charts.
Mrs. D.: Those were the days, huh, B?
Brandon: Heck yeah!
Mrs. D.: You know what I used to love in elementary school? FELT BOARDS! You probably have no idea what that even is. I used to absolutely love when my teacher would put the felt board on the easel, take out the big box of felt shapes, and use them to tell a story...or do math, even. You probably had a SMART board or something like that when you were in elementary school. How terrible. How sad. Technology is ruining childhood.
Elijah: Man, I always loved me some Etch-A-Sketch.
Mrs. D.: Oh, yeah? Me, too! What a great toy!
Elijah: (gazes off, face softening, eyes dreamy; he is completely lost in a reverie and smiling) I could take a Etch-A-Sketch and a cup of applesauce all day!
End scene

III. Just When You Think You're Talking To A Brick Wall...

Scene opens in a quiet classroom as students begin to drift in for 7th period junior "regular" English. As usual, only a few girls arrive promptly. They quickly clique up and begin to gossip as the teacher sets up the overhead projector and transparencies for the day's notes on Adjective Subordinate Clauses.

Angela: ...I know! And she has a face like a bird's.
Faith: That's because she has a nose like a chicken.
Kourtney: Well, I--
Mrs. D.: (interrupting because she can definitely hear all this and has to say something) Ladies! What a terrible thing to say! None of that is very nice at all. I certainly hope that you're not talking about anyone in our class. Remember, we all have to get along, and--
Kourtney: (interrupting with a matter-of-fact tone and expression) We're talking about The New Girl.
Faith: None of us like her.
Angela: She's a troublemaker, Mrs. D. You don't know her.
Mrs. D.: Good heavens! She just got here. And I expect the three of you--and the entire class--to treat her with respect.
Faith: She was in this school before.
Mrs. D.: I don't care. Good heavens. I had no idea the three of you felt this way!
Kourtney: ( head cocked and slyly smiling) That's because we all have to get along and treat each other with respect. Right?
End scene


  1. Was that one cup of applesauce for Elijah, or did you get the impression he kept getting refills? I loves me some Elijah!

  2. Anonymous11:18 AM

    Aaahhhh...I do miss working there. I really do, it always provides free entertainment. Especially when I'm lucky enough to be in your classroom! Nina

  3. They were nostalgic for felt boards! You should let them know that every kindergarten room in the city still has a corner with a felt board and a box of felt things to decorate it with. Technology has not killed childhood in the least. As for the applesauce, I'm right there with him!

  4. Nance, I hope that J's comment regarding felt boards has strengthened your faith in humanity.

    I, for one, would be willing to put up with some snow for a snow day. But not much.

  5. J.@jj--Oh, but it's not just SOME snow; it's over a FOOT. That's what it always takes to get a day off--that and below zero wind chills. Never worth it, really. And yes, I am somewhat becalmed now by the knowledge that felt boards are not obsolete. If I could devise a way to use them in high school English, I'd have one myself.

    J.--Actually, I was the one waxing nostalgic for felt boards. But I'm glad to know that they're still in use. Now, as far as applesauce, I don't see the allure. I make homemade sometimes, but I leave it chunky and throw some walnuts in there, along with brown sugar and cinnamon. It's a dessert thing, really--and I like it warm.

    Nina--Oh, thank you, Miss! I've not been out lately--(knock wood that I continue to be healthy)--but I will keep you in mind if an easy day comes along.

    The Other Nance--Hee hee. You know, it's hard to say. But life's simple pleasures are, apparently, still the best, aren't they? I made Elijah's quote my "Quote of the Week", and put it on the board at the front of the room, along with his name. It sparked discussion every period, and Elijah loves it.

  6. Kids! Just when you have decided they aren't of the same race at all, they turn out like that.
    What lovely, lovely stories. And may all your snow melt away. Or send it here; we have room for a foot or so more.

  7. I have some interesting quotes from some of my classes I should share with you. This needs to go in an e-mail. Soon, hopefully.

  8. Mikey--I'll bet you do! I always had some "interesting" things to say in my math classes. LOL.

    Mary G--Wonder of Wonders! We got all the way up to 30 degrees today, and rumour has it that we are reaching the 40s tom'w, with perhaps RAIN on Friday! I am beyond excited!! And don't wax too romantic re: my students. They can definitely bring me back to earth just as quickly and distinctly in the very same period. (and often have!)

  9. Those moments are gifts ... they keep you going for sure. I remember having them with students when I was a third-grade teacher and thinking life was grand and I had the best job in the world--at least for that moment in time. I did have a board, but I thought it was called a flannel board. Same thing, right?


  10. Shirley--Yes, probably felt and flannel are the same, those cloth-covered boards that teachers use to illustrate concepts or stories by placing felt or flannel shapes on them. I adored it. The shapes were so colorful and festive, and I loved how they just stuck to the cloth without tacks or glue or tape. It was wonderful!

  11. I have a faint memory of felt boards. But it's one of those memories where it's hard to know if it's truly my own memory.

    But applesacue and Etch-A-Sketch!! Who wouldn't love those? Great memories! Although I did have some mercury fears when the Etch-A-Sketch broke. Not good...

  12. Anali--you had mercury fears even back when you were a kid? I can remember kids in jr. high and high school PLAYING with mercury in science class. Now, they don't even have mercury in science labs anymore, and they'd shut down the entire city block if a kid brought even a tiny drop to school. How times have changed. (I thought the etch-a-sketch had iron dust in it or graphite, not mercury. Time to Google!)


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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