Can you feel the extra B vitamins?

By Mir
April 10, 2006

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!
Chickade: Mama!
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.


  1. DebR

    We must hear more quotes from Chickadee’s boyfriend. I kinda love him too!

  2. Jennifer

    You have so accurately conveyed the feel of trying to wrangle small (medium-sized?) children into some sort of activity. I swear, I have the same experience with Brownies every other week — although you must add in the part about running to the bathroom every 3.5 minutes and splashing water all over the floor each time. But perhaps that’s only girls. And Katie can be a bit more obnoxious than Chickadee in her leader’s daughter role. Good luck with your continued role of “mentor” — I got my rewards this weekend when one of my Brownies held my hand at our mall cookie sale and told me how nice I was. A great reward, considering I feel like all I do is tell them to be quiet and pay attention and stop splashing water all over the place!

  3. Cele

    I get to deal in Teens, at work we have a one hour weekly radio program run and produced by students at our local high school. Tonight was my night (3 of us rotate.) I literally have one student who was ridiculed by all the other students because she couldn’t understand why anyone would drive to see a museum full of air, after having read the words Air Museum on the side of a huge airplane hangar.

    She is a sweet 4.0 senior in high school though.

    I’ll trade you two of yours for ne if mine.

  4. Jim

    You read my own post regarding childhood math but I’m stoked I didn’t have to do half the work you did – sheesh!!!

    Notably, I didn’t have to tolerate a Mr. Wonderful.

    Give them String Theory and their little minds get blown. Sure, it leads to neurotic kids but at least you no longer haver to do math homework with them!

  5. Theresa

    WOW! She picked a smart one! Good girl!

  6. Mama C-ta

    Does Chickadee’s man have an older brother? Like in 12th grade at least?

  7. Aimee

    Heh. Chickie’s crush sounds like a character from the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters. Amelia has a very precocious son, Ramses, who’s always saying things like that. Too funny.

  8. Steff

    You are soo brave!

  9. Sabrina

    I agree with the PP in saying you are one brave woman! LOL I love the hug when no one’s looking. I get that ALL THE TIME!

  10. Kris

    I’m kinda crushin’ on boywhomchickadeehasacrushon also! Does he have a much older brother? (Aw heck, his father’ll do! LOL!)

    THey just don’t grow them like that anymore!

  11. Zuska

    How, exactly, do foam shapes help teach base numbers? And do I even want an answer to that question?

    I heart BWCHACO!! Keep feeding him shocking statements each week and let us know how he reacts, okay?

    Once when MegaBoy had a friend over, I had to go down the basement and get something and I said, as I often do to my two “When I come back, I don’t want any dead kids, okay? That would be bad, and Michael might not be allowed to have a playdate here again.” Well, my two were fine, but I think I scared the heck out of Michael!

  12. Snow

    Ah, the free range elementary school wrangling! Is it any wonder why I’ve never used that music degree to teach?

  13. Vee

    I get to “supervise” the 5th grade Easter party at my son’s school this Thursday. I’m SO looking forward to it. I know how much ‘”fun” it is to supervise parties and field trips, I couldn’t imagine how “fun” it would be to actually attempt to teach them anything!

    My son’s class is comprised of 15 boys and 5 girls. It smells like little boy sweat and farts ALL THE TIME.

  14. Heather

    That is the greatest quote I’ve heard in at least 48 hours. I would love to hear more from BWCHACO!

  15. ben

    Vee – that’s what our house smells like, especially if you add “dirty dog” to the mix.

    Sounds like a great math experiment, and the pounds / grams thing cracks me up. When they grow up they’ll be like me and just stick a couple extra stamps on there instead of weighing it right. (Sure, it costs money, but since winning the lottery I’ve got PLENTY)

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