Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Through the Looking Glass

Another day on which I feel obligated to get down on my knees and thank whomever you like to worship that my administrators are competent, caring people. It is so rare that a teacher is able to say that, I think. I certainly was NOT able to say that about my last school.

For everyone's reference, when writing here I refer to my Principal as Florence (short for Florence Nightingale) and my Assistant Principal as Clara (short for, you guessed it, Clara Barton). They are, no joke, angels of mercy. Things run smoothly at my school. There are no screaming matches in the lobby between the principal and parents. We don't arrive for a PD day and wonder what we're supposed to do. We get our class lists for next year in June, not on the first day of school in September. We have a testing calendar and know when everything is happening. We don't get told to "do something happy," for September 11th. We get help with students who are totally disrupting the classroom - whether they are just upset and need a break or violent and dangerous to the other children. It's not "good luck with that," it's "I'm on my way, hang on till I get there." And then in sixty seconds, they ACTUALLY SHOW UP.

You think I'm kidding, don't you. I'm not. Just as a for instance, last year I had the beginning ESL first grade class - 20 of my 25 spoke little or no English. One little girl, we'll call her Shrieky, arrived from foreign parts three days before school started. Never having been to school before, she was convinced her parents had brought her there and left her for good. Then she got hot, as it was still summer. Well, what does one do in a tiny remote village when one gets hot? Yes, you guessed it, I looked up from a group of children I was helping with an art project to see a little pair of yellow underpants whizzing by. Her dress was draped over the back of her chair. She and her underpants were on their way to the bathroom.

When she tripped in the cafeteria that afternoon, she started to cry. She cried all day. She cried, screamed, and swiped at the tears and snot running down her face. She cried at the nurse's office. She cried in the classroom. Remember that Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle story where the little girl washes away on a sea of her own tears? We came close. I sang her songs, I let her sit next to me in the listening area, I soothed her with the three words I knew in her language, all to no avail. Down came the AP, out went Shrieky. Nothing - NOTHING - disturbs instruction. Every single time she started to get weepy, someone took her out.

It's my third year at this school, and I still occasionally feel like Alice in Wonderland. I'll gladly stay down the rabbit hole.

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