March 2022 SOLC–Day 19
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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.