The phrase, “Out of the mouths of babes” has come to mind often during my stints as a substitute teacher in public schools, from pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade. The first one of 2018 that was most memorable happened on Valentine’s Day when I oversaw a class of 20 chatty, high-energy first-grade students. We were thirty minutes away from the class Valentine’s Day party, after six brutal hours of required school work. Excitement levels were on an even keel with impatience for the party to Just Start Already! With the help of three “classroom mothers”, party food, juice boxes and decorated bags filled with valentine greetings were arranged on every desktop. When the moment to commence the party finally came, you’d think these children had been deprived of any food and liquids for at least eight days. It took under eight minutes for the sugary snacks to kick in. Less than that for one little girl who bounced and boinged around the room like a miniature Pogo Stick. Being tethered to her chair wouldn’t have restricted her energy – not that confining her to a chair in such a manner sprang to mind.
So, I’m watching this scarcely controlled mayhem, sending anxious/desperate glances to the wall clock to see how much longer this party would continue, when this seven year old sprite-on-an-invisible-Pogo-stick rushes over to me.
“My dog died,” she stated in the typical forthright utterance of a first-grader.
“Oh! I’m so sorry!” I replied.
“His name was Flash. He was gray and white.”
“Are you going to get a new dog?”
“We did already.” She rolls her eyes. “His name is Charles. He’s stupid.”
“Uh, ok. What kind of dog is Charles?”
I manage not to laugh. “Hmm. An orange dog.”
Vigorous nod. “Yes. He is an orange, STUPID dog.”
This time I couldn’t hold back the laugh. She waved and Pogoed back amongst her sucrose influenced classmates.
Every time I think of that little girl and the dog who is a poor stand-in and never will live up to Flash's standards, I smile. Thought you might enjoy it as much as I did.
A couple weeks ago I subbed a class for high school seniors who plan on attending college as education majors. Nine students, all girls, and all but one with plans to teach in an elementary school. And of those eight, all but one wants to teach Kindergarten classes, which would not be my first choice were I to be a full-time elementary school teacher. When I asked these eight why Kindergarten, the reasons were unanimous: because at that age students are so sweet and love their teachers.
I didn’t tell them what went through my head at hearing that but I’ll tell you: entering the education profession to be liked/loved by your students is a lot like becoming a parent with the expectation of being loved and adored by your children as much as you do them. Oh, they probably will through their grade school years but watch out after that. These high school seniors were right about the Kindergartners though. Those little people do tend to adore their teachers and want to please them. In my experience that lasts another couple of years, maybe three.
As for the one girl in this high school class whose goal is to become a high school teacher – math to juniors and seniors - rather than the elementary or middle school levels, her reasoning is this: "By that age students are “real people, like us”. Her classmates laughed at that saying there’s no way they’d want to teach kids who were like they’d been in high school.
One more smile-worthy quip to leave you with, this time from a 9th grade boy:
“What do you call a bear without an ear?”
I gave it some thought, couldn’t come up with an answer. “I don’t know. What?”
(say it out loud...you may have to do that a couple times)
Any “out of the mouths of babes” moments of your own?
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