Tuesday, November 26, 2013

An Alarming Day in First Grade

So I had planned to spend the afternoon substituting in the first grade classroom. Then a friend called with an ominous report: She was the morning sub and down with a virus of the icky, icky variety. I generously offered to go in, get things situated with some other reasonably responsible adult and return home.

No such luck. I taught all day.

If I went in with some fear and trepidation, this stemmed from two reasons:
1. My exhausting (not bad, mind you, just exhausting) experience last year that I detailed here.
2. I had Ainsley in tow.
But here's the reason our small school continues to thrive: Everyone does what it takes. And today it meant Ainsley and I were up and out the door ready to teach first grade.

Now Ainsley was game from the start. A while back, when I was organizing clothes and uniforms in our neighborhood Clothing Closet, I grabbed a few uniforms that should fit Ainsey next September when she (sob, sob) starts! kindergarten! This morning she dressed in her miniature uniform with great excitement.

Can I just indulge in a brief moment of insufferable Mommyness?

Let me tell you, she was the cutest thing ever to don a khaki jumper and cable-knit knee socks. The picture just doesn't do it justice.

First period was Spanish. This was helpful because a) I didn't have to teach, and therefore, b) I was able to replenish my coffee, and c) I was able to to read and re-read the lessons plans. The teacher's notes couldn't have been clearer. Every single step highlighted and marked, copied and stacked.  But elementary teachers' manuals? Busy, busy, busy. Most Catholics are familiar with the Liturgy of the Hours. It's about that complicated. There's page 40 which is not to be confused with page 40 a. Every page has 15-20 suggestions for enriching and extending. I am sure that after a week or two with the materials, teachers get the hang of it. Subs are s-l-o-w. And as I've learned from experience, s-l-o-w with elementary students can be your undoing.

The kids returned from Spanish with Senora Funsch raving about the fact that Ainsley can count to ten in Spanish. I would like to claim she's a prodigy; really, she's just watched a whole lot of Dora.

Come on, Vamonos! Everybody let's go!

We jumped into our work, and you know what? I had fun. John is in a class of all boys, and they are sweet and charming, every last one of them. They are active, but have obviously grown up quite a bit from last year when seat work felt like playing Whack a Mole. John's buddy, Henry, charmed the cable-knit socks right off of Ainsley who insisted on sitting next to him and sharing his supply box.

The bad news was that the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down. Recess -- those blessed breaks for boys and teachers alike -- took place indoors. No quick run to the Ladies'; no resupplying the coffee; no running the wiggles out. I did abandon ship long enough to run out to pick up lunch. Ainsley and I dashed to the car in the middle of a downpour only to find that the driver's door -- which has been acting up lately -- wouldn't budge. It was cold, but I didn't think it was cold enough to freeze the lock. I went to the other side and was relieved to find the back sliding door unlocked.

Then the car alarm began to blare.

See, that silver Grand Caravan was not, in fact, my silver Grand Caravan.

Oh joy.

Ainsley and I dashed back through the parking lot and ran into the Mr. Funsch -- my good friend, former boss, and high school principal -- who had been attempting to teach Algebra I before the alarm began to sound not far from his classroom window. I confessed that I was the culprit and assured him that I would locate the person who could put an end to the siren.

I nabbed Mrs. Hebert, whose car I had broken into, and we went back to the high school and into the chemistry lab where her son, who had the car keys, was attempting to add water to sodium bromide.(I think?). We marched to his locker to retrieve the keys. Naturally, by the time we made it back to the van, the alarm had given up.

Every once in while, I told Mr. Funsch, I would like to fly under the radar. Just once in a while.

The afternoon was full of more rain, math, and C.S. Lewis. I can see why John is so excited about The Magician's Nephew. He's reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in school. We finished the day with a rousing game of Sight Word Bingo, and the boys played dominoes while I read a book that claims student achievement across every demographic is strongly linked to high parental expectations and apparently not linked at all to parental hectoring.

You learn something new every day.

I drove home and promptly browbeat Tim about Spanish and geometry.

I am now looking forward to an evening baking cookies with the little people and possibly watching a little of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, one of my all time favorite children's movies.

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