Saturday, January 18, 2014

Red-faced moments...We've all been there.

We all have embarrassing moments as teachers. Some go totally unnoticed by the kids. I have two of those stories. So far.

Red-Faced Teacher Moment #1:
I always use Reader Response Journals as a fourth grade teacher. Totally awesome idea I snatched from a teacher friend during that first year in fourth grade. Each week, I write a letter to each of my students about the books they are reading, and each week my students write back to me. I've talked about these before. Differentiated instruction at its best! So, needless to say, it takes me a while to respond to 18 letters, and I tote them back and forth to school pretty much daily in my super-sized teacher bag.

It should be said that I spent a lot of time at school that first year in fourth grade. A. Lot. So…I kept just about everything I might ever need in my handy dandy teacher bag. Snacks, water bottles, you name it, I’ve got it. I was always prepared to spend a night at school. Thankfully, I never had to, but you know, you never know.

Anyway, the bottom of my teacher bag was like a CVS, RiteAid, and Walgreens in one. Bandaids, emergency first aid kit, tissues, etc. And I would throw the kiddos’ Reader Response Journals right on top, and then hand them out the next morning when they were completed. And that’s what I did on this particular morning.

The kiddos were coming into the classroom, starting their morning work when I noticed one student, looking at his Reader Response Journal with a look of question in his eyes.

“Miss, I have a weird bookmark in my Reader Response Journal.”

I sighed. So what? I have attendance, lunch count, morning work, homework, and a million other things to deal with first thing in the morning.

He held up a package of birth control pills.

My eyes bulged.

“Oh my gosh. I didn’t mean to give those to you. They must have been in the bottom of my bottomless teacher bag and just got stuck. Those are my…it’s my medicine.”

“Wow. There are a lot. Are you sick?”

“No…I meant to say vitamins. Those are my daily vitamins. Vitamins keep people healthy!”

Everybody accepted this answer. Everybody went about their morning work. I started keeping my birth control pills in a zippered side compartment in my trusty teacher bag.

I wonder, though. I’m sure, years from now, this kiddo will see a package of birth control pills. Will he recognize them as being the accidental bookmark that his scatterbrained fourth grade teacher left in his Reader Response Journal?

Red-Faced Teacher Moment #2:
SO, this was during my second year teaching fourth grade. In this particular school I worked in, fourth grade is the year for the big BODY CHANGES TALK. The counselors would talk to the boys and girls separately about what was about to happen to their bodies, self-esteem, and peer pressure. Cool. They need to be informed, and I was more than happy to take a backseat in teaching them about this stuff. Can you imagine? My face would look like a tomato.

Anyway, that all ended. Talks were finished and things were back to normal. The next day, my kiddos started the day milling about the classroom, doing their attendance, lunch count, and morning work. (Sidenote: I love self-sufficient fourth graders!) My Special Ed teacher friend wandered in, ready to support learning in our classroom. She had a few extra special little friends that she spent a lot of time with that year.

As my Special Ed teacher friend walked in, she got a weird look on her face and made a beeline for me. She leaned in close and said….

“I think you need to look under the Guided Reading table. Now.”

I looked over an saw a tissue underneath the table. Okay, now I know I am totally anal retentive, borderline OCD, and 100% type A personality….but I wouldn’t freak out about a tissue. What’s the big deal?

As I went over to pick it up, I realized that I might need a tissue to pick up the tissue. It was actually a tampon. An open tampon. Lovely.

I furtively glanced around my buzzing classroom. Nobody noticed what I was doing. Phew. Okay. Get a tissue. Pick up the open tampon. Throw it away. Problem solved.

I never figured out which one of my kiddos planted said tampon in the classroom…whether it was an accident or planned potential embarrassing moment…but my face remained crimson until lunch, thank you very much.

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