Today was my first day teaching math enrichment in Chickadee’s class. Someone else actually handled the first session (last week) and had already caught me up on where they were and what should happen next and all of that. I arrived with plenty of time to spare so that I could set up our table, which is conveniently located right outside the cafeteria. Apparently studies have shown that children learn best in a noisy hallway!
Our first unit (unfinished from last time) involved weighing packages on an ancient balance scale, so most of my prep time was spent trying to get it to read 0 for more than three seconds.
Once all was ready, I headed down to Mr. Wonderful’s room to fetch the kids.
Me: Hi, I–
Mr. Wonderful: Hello, Mrs. Lastname! Good to see you!
Small Gaggle of Boys: MATH! ENRICHMENT! BYE!
Mr. Wonderful: Alright, children, wait one minute, please. Line up while I fill Mrs. Lastname in. Now, as you know, the kids are picked to be in math enrichment for different reasons, but excellent behavior is expected of all of them. *he paused to look meaningfully at the group clustered by the door* If you have any problems with any of the children, you can send them back to the classroom. Last week, ALL FIVE OF THEM came back– *here he noticed my look of terror and flashed me a grin* –at the end of the session with a great report! Have fun!
Me: Haha! Okay, we will. C’mon guys, let’s go.
*four boys run down the hallway ahead of us as Chickadee grabs my hand and skips along beside me*
Me: Hey, boys? How about you wait for us? *they slowed down, reluctantly*
We arrived at the table, and the scramble for seating began.
Chickadee: I want to sit next to you!
Me: Okay, that’s fine. Sit right here. Everyone have a seat? Great. Alright, let’s see. We’re going to finish up your sheets from last week. Let’s just pass these out….
I got the boys–who all look the same to me, and I am already panicking that I will call them the wrong names–to tell me their names, and I gave everyone their half-completed worksheets.
Boy: You gave me Joe’s worksheet.
Me: Oh, I’m sorry. That was the last one… you’re not Joe?
Boy: No, I’m Jim.
Me: I’m sorry, Jim. Wait. Where’s Joe?
Another Boy: He’s supposed to be here. We should go get him!
*all four boys stand up, ready to run back down the hall*
Me: WHOA! Wait a sec, guys. Hang on. Is Joe supposed to be in the group? And Jim, where is your sheet?
Jim: I dunno.
Yet Another Boy: Joe’s supposed to be here! We’ll go get him!
Me: Wait, please. Okay, um… *craning my neck to peek at a paper I’ve already handed out* Tom! You’re Tom, right? *Tom nods* Please WALK back down to the classroom and ask Mr. Wonderful if Joe is supposed to join us, okay? Thank you. Jim, here’s your sheet. Okay. While we wait for Tom and Joe, can someone please show me how much of this unit you have done?
Chickadee shoved her paper down my bra, practically, and by the time Tom returned (with news that Joe isn’t coming) I’d determined that they still have four packages to weigh to complete this unit.
Me: Please don’t tap the scale.
Boy: It doesn’t work very well. We had a lot of trouble with it last time.
Me: Yeah, I heard. I think I got it levelled but if you mess with it I’m not sure what’ll happen, so please don’t tap it with your pencil, okay? Thanks.
Chickadee: Can I go first?
Me: Honey, let me figure out what we’re DOING, first, okay?
Chickadee: Okay. And then can I go first?
Me: Boys! Hi! Can I have you stop sparring with your pencils for a few minutes and focus up here, please? Thanks. Okay! We have four packages left to weigh… *every hand shoots into the air to volunteer* … and, um, there are five of you here.
This was not in my teacher’s manual. Fortunately, I’m smooth.
Me: So, I’m going to have to kill one of you. The rest of you will each get a package to weigh.
*time slows to a standstill while the boys all gape at me*
Chickadee: MAMA! You’re joking!
Me: Yes, I’m joking. You can all stop looking scared, now.
Boy Whom Chickadee Has A Crush On: I am quite curious about the experience of death, but I think I’d rather weigh a package today. [I swear that is a direct quote. Is it any wonder she loves him?]
Eventually the packages were weighed (the kids all kept saying “pounds” instead of “grams” and OH THE HILARITY that ensued each time I would ask them what they supposed was IN that envelope that it could weigh SO MUCH) and that unit was complete. We moved on to base number systems, and the completely intuitive manner of teaching them via multicolored foam shapes. And, um, encouraging facial expressions.
Eventually it was time to release the kids, and they ran off to lunch. (Chickadee insisted that I walk down to the classroom with her and give her a hug when no one was looking.) I set about packing up the supplies and wondering if I could come up with a good excuse to not be available for the remaining sessions.
But chances are I’ll go back. I can’t wait to hear what Chickadee’s little boyfriend might say next week.