SOLC Day 19: Over it!

March 2022 SOLC–Day 19
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.

The kids scramble into the room creating the typical hubbub of morning energy with jostling elbows and bumping backpacks. Greetings and bits and pieces of stories fill the air. I start scanning to see who is there. Who is absent today.

My colleague walks into the room.
“Um, just to let you know.” She gives me a sympathetic glance. “A couple of my students just told me that Arnie is down by the swamp*. Again.”

Ugh. I bite back the words that I want to respond with, and grit my teeth smile. “Ok, thanks.”

Since my classroom is out in a modular, my students have to walk down a path, out of sight of the bus greeters, every morning. Arnie, again and again, has been unable to resist the call of the wild on this journey. It is sadly not unusual for other students to report to me or to other teachers that Arnie is rolling down a snow covered hill. Or has handed someone his backpack to carry in while he’s climbing over the railing. Or whatever.

Now to those of you people who say “Oh, how cute! What a free spirit! He’s investigating nature. Showing his curiosity,” I say “BAH HUMBUG!” Loudly. Defiantly.

I have no desire, no remaining energy, to approach this situation with a lens of curiosity. Or engage in more collaborative problem solving. Or use the power of my words: “I’ve noticed…” or “What might help you…?”

I am 100% over it.

So, after the rest of the kids come in, I go outside and extract Arnie from the swamp with some well-chosen carrying redirecting words. Clearly my reminders and our ongoing conversations about following school rules, safety concerns and initiating work in a timely manner haven’t gotten through to Arnie.

It’s time to call in the big guns: Kelli R., Assistant Principal.

Once kids are settled and working, I pick up the phone, dial, then pull the cord around the door to step outside the classroom. Even though the door is mostly closed, there’s a well placed window in the door, so I can see what’s going on in the room.

The phone rings.

Kelli picks up.

“Hi, Kelli, ” I begin, “I’m wondering if you could talk to Arnie for me.”

In the room, Arnie looks up. The kids seem restless. I step a little further away from the door, lower my voice and continue, explaining the situation to her. As our conversation ends, Kelli agrees that she’ll speak to Arnie and says she has time right now.

I walk back in the room, hang up and cross toward Arnie, preparing to send him off.

“Mrs. Hogan,” several kids chime in. “Your mic was on the whole time.”

I stop in my tracks.


“Yeah, who’s Kelli?”

Frozen, I quickly retrace the conversation in my head, trying to figure out what they’d overheard.

You need to know that we have a classroom audio system that sends our voice into all corners of the room. So, if I’m writing something on the board and still talking, kids can hear me easily. Also, kids in the back of the room can always hear as well as kids in the front. It’s a great system.

Until it isn’t.

In this instance, while I had been careful to step out of the room and lower my voice, I had neglected to turn off the microphone around my neck. Luckily, I’m pretty sure I kept it professional. I mean, I was talking to the Assistant Principal

So, after quietly apologizing to Arnie for broadcasting his situation through the classroom (he really didn’t seem to care and I’m not even positive he realized he’d been the topic under discussion), I then told him where he was going and why.

“But, they told me to do it!” he exclaimed.

“Well, that’s a really good thing to discuss with Mrs. R.,” I said, while handing him a door pass to get into the building.

Yup. Over it.

*The swamp in question isn’t a full-fledged swamp, it’s more of a cattail-filled retaining pool for draining water and, evidently, for attracting wayward ten-year-olds.

16 thoughts on “SOLC Day 19: Over it!

  1. Oh the call of the wild is strong with Arnie. I totally get your frustration, and a “pep talk” from the AP may be just what A needs to get himself to class. Good luck!


  2. This post is honest and timely. Your details “jostling elbows and bumping backpacks” capture the classroom spot on. Your mic not muted adds another layer of the chaos we are all witnessing. Wishing you a restful weekend and a new week without swamp incidents.


  3. maryleehahn says:

    Ruh-roh. I can just feel that gut clench when you realized what you’d done!


  4. humbleswede says:

    Ooh, that mic thing could be quite dangerous. I know the mic that some teachers wear for a hearing impaired student has caused some embarrassing issues as well. I hope Kelli’s chat made an impression.


  5. Amanda Potts says:

    Ok, I admit it: I laughed when you said you were 100% over it because of course I’d been thinking it was a little bit cute that he was so interested in the world. But I got it right away because I have stories from high school that seem relatively innocuous but they are NOT. And I cringe-laughed about the mic being on; I wear one for a student this year, and this is my nightmare. What a Friday! Here’s hoping the talk with Kelli helps Arnie and that your weekend is restful!


  6. kd0602 says:

    Oh Arnie! I feel like we all have that student–the one who just does what they want, because they just can’t help it. But the mic–that’s might be the reason why I just keep “forgetting” to use mine. (And it’s not a fancy one–just meant to help with the masks–the ones we no longer have to wear.)


  7. gailaldousmsncom says:

    Your first sentence immediately hooked me, Molly. Your descriptions, dialogue, and thoughts are so honest and realistic that I felt like I was there with you. I love “100% over it, time for the big guns, swamp, unable to resist the call of the wild, What?”, & “Until it isn’t.” I love how you crossed out your thoughts in your response. I FEEL your frustration here. Years ago, I had a hearing impaired student, who I wore a mic for. I remember leaving the mic on a few times; I laughed about my mistake so the kids did, too, and that was the end of it. Kids understand mistakes.

    I hope that you were able to unwind/relax somehow after school that day. I hope that Arnie isn’t going to the swamp anymore. Teachers are heroes, especially in today’s world.


  8. How did Arnie do today? He sounds like a free-spirit and you all have made a good faith effort to support him in following the norms of the school. I bet he’s back down the hill or will be in a week! By the way, do you use the word “support” when dealing with kids rather “help,” which diminishes their agency? Does that make sense? Support suggests we are working together as a team to deal with any situation.


    • mbhmaine says:

      “support him in the norms of the school”–oh! I’m definitely going to have to use that phrase. Your question about support vs. help is interesting. I think I tend to say “support” …but now I’m going to pay attention to confirm that!


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