Friday, January 17, 2014

Introducing my most memorable student ever!

Flashback to 2009:

As my first year as a fabulous fourth grade teacher progressed, I definitely got a handle on this whole teacher thing. Seriously! I’m sure that is hard to believe, considering how my first day went, and how my communication skills with the kiddos probably needed a good shake, but it’s totally true. I got better! I worked at it, for sure…spent a few weekends, nights, and early mornings in my classroom reworking lessons, researching ideas, and setting up activities. It paid off though. A few months into the year, I actually felt comfortable. And that’s when I got a wake up call.

Every year there is a little friend…a little friend in your class that occupies just a bit more time than the others. A little friend in your class that drives you just a bit crazy. A little friend in your class you will probably never forget and will definitely walk away clutching a piece of your heart. This was my first year of fourth grade and I had one little boy who just melted my heart. Even after he cartwheeled down the hallway and literally bounced off the walls on the way to P.E.

So, this little boy was in my class. I should totally preface this with a story within a story. While I was spending nine million hours of my summer vacation setting up a gorgeous classroom, I received a visit from a teacher friend whose classroom was upstairs from mine. She wandered around my classroom, remarking on the nametags I had set up on each chair. Most of the comments were pretty generic. “Nice kid!” “Oh, his mom works in the high school.” “Divorced parents.” And then she stopped her grazing. And then her mouth dropped. And then she turned to me and said, “They gave you HIM?!?! Your first year?!?!”

My bulletin board papering project came to an abrupt halt and I turned to look at this teacher friend who had just delivered seemingly terrible news.

“No, I mean, he’s great…just…a real character. Lots of energy. Kind of…just different. You’ll have an interesting year, for sure!”

And with that, my new teacher friend left me. Left me wondering…what would this year be like?

So, here I am. I’m teaching a totally engaging and awesome lesson about Native Americans. I’m rockin’ it! And then there is a knock at the door. The Special Ed teacher friend. She motions me over and whispers in my ear, “The custodians are currently cleaning smiley faces off the boy’s bathroom walls.”

I pulled back and looked at her quizzically.

“The smiley faces were drawn with POOP!!!”

I stood there with my mouth agape. Okay, so that is pretty nasty. I mean, really not what I wanted to hear when I was on the cusp of filling the minds of my eager kiddos with tales of Hiawatha. But why was she telling me this gasp-worthy news?

“We think it was a boy in your class.”

Shoot. Ew. Grossgrossgrossgrossgross!

Apparently, one little boy had a history. A history of drawing with his own poop. But nobody could prove that MY little friend did this, especially since it hadn’t happened in a very long time. So, we started a twisted ritual that involved checking under his fingernails each time he returned from the restroom. Yup. I said it. Checking. His. Fingernails. You can imagine why. Don’t make me say it.
Weeks pass. He continues to pass the fingernail tests. Phew! And then…another doorway visitor. This time, after school. This time, another fourth grade teacher was with the Special Ed teacher friend.

“We need to check the boy’s bathroom together. The poop writer struck again. This time he signed his work. We need a handwriting check.”

So, the poop writer drew his smileys and signed his name. There are two kiddos in fourth grade with that name. One in my class. We pinched our noses, ventured into the boy’s bathroom, and identified the handwriting. It was my student. Argh. Just another day in the life of a fabulous fourth grade teacher.

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