Sunday, September 12, 2010

Math Made Me Cry!

It was a dark and silent time in the cafeteria...just thought I could make it a scary story, but then I changed my mind. Friday before last the lights were out in the cafeteria. At our school this means no talking. We have last lunch this year and my class has been struggling with their behavior. Every time I turn around someone is saying to them, "I don't understand, Miss Martin always has the best class." I want to say to them, "I do understand, they are no worse than any other class, they just have no one else to take up any of the attention." Anyhow, when the lights were turned back on someone in my class decided to express their joy by yelling YEAH! I was innocently enjoying my lunch in the staff lounge when the head custodian came in to give my the bad news. Apparently not only did the yelling occur, but no one would rat out the offender. He told me that I needed to take care of the problem and that until the guilty was pinpointed my class had silent lunch. Silent lunch! What, it is one of two times during the day when they get to talk about whatever they want. We have such a hard time making it to that time of day anyway. I decided that this would come to an end quickly. I just knew that I could handle this situation. Friday after lunch usually involves those who have behaved participating in "Fun Friday" (30 minutes of recess). Hey, I didn't make it up, but have to go along with it because it has always been this way. Those students who have not behaved must stay inside in the "Reflection Room" (a horrible place where they have to miss the time outside and fill out a paper detailing all their wrongs and how they will behave in the future) Again, a tradition and a place I hate to be every fifth week. Anyhow, I was scheduled to be outside as was my entire class. I decided we would take as much of Fun Friday as was needed to take care of this problem and move on. I let the class share I statements about lunch, this means they could say, "I heard someone yell YEAH" not "So and so yelled YEAH". We went about this until I had heard enough. No one was volunteering to say, " I yelled YEAH!", so I decided to take it one step further. Everyone was asked to come speak to me in private in the hallway (just in case they did not want to confess in public). I just knew this would find the culprit. One by one they all came out and one by one they said they had no clue who did it or they blamed someone, but with nothing to back up their blame. This tactic didn't work so I decided that now we were all in the reflection room. I pulled out the reflection sheets and made a big deal about passing them all out. I even had to make more copies and told them that I didn't ever expect to have to use this may in a whole year much less in one week (true). They all wrote down the despicable behavior that got them there and then one brave girl raised her hand and asked "what am I supposed to put for how I will act next week when I didn't do anything wrong?" She was right! I had no idea. I quickly covered up my stumpedness and told her she needed to be creative. They all signed their guilty papers, I signed them and I made a pile to send home to their parents. I couldn't believe this was happening. I told them the story of when I was in third grade and I spilled red kool-aid on my parents white bedspread while no one else was around. When mom discovered it and asked who did it I was not about to confess since no one could prove it was me. Mom gave us one hour to find out who did it before we all got punished. After an hour of "did you do its?" I still hadn't cracked. The time was up and just before the spankings began, I confessed. Oh the horror! I never wanted to feel that way again and tell that story every year to teach the importance of telling the truth. Even Miss Martin has to learn that lesson once! No one cracked! Sincerely what is wrong with this class or was it me. I took it to the next level, technology. I pulled up my e-mail on the SMART board to show them all how I was letting the custodian know that his punishment of silent lunch for the REST of the year would stand because no one had confessed. Before I hit send I asked if anyone wanted to stop me. NOTHING! I thought, OK, one day of silent lunch should do it. I personally felt the punishment was too much, but I can't take back what was already decided while I was innocently eating my salad. Sincerely people, don't say something you are not ready to follow through on. I give the custodian credit because on Monday when it was time for our first silent lunch, he stayed with them. Thanks for not making me do it. One day, two days, FIVE days! I couldn't believe it. Everyday we had a short little lecture and I told the class that I was always available to anyone who needed to talk. By day five I just knew I could no longer take it. The looks of disappointment on the faces of the innocent ones. All along I thought I knew who the guilty one was and I would make sure to look him in the eye whenever I lectured the group about the injustice of it all. Well, you ask, what does this have to do with math and crying. OK, I will tell you. About Wednesday, I started saying that I couldn't believe that someone was making the whole class have silent lunch for 30 minutes each day when their punishment would have been to sit out at recess for 5 minutes. By Friday I was determined to make this all come to an end and so I pulled out my old friend, MATH. Five minutes times one person is five minutes. Thirty minutes times five days is 150 minutes. Well that is the time that one person had spent in silence over all this. Well, 17 people times 150 minutes is 2,550 minutes! I did the math for them and let that sink in. I then told them that we have silent lunch for the rest of the year and 2,550 minutes times 30 more weeks (that's right people, only 30 more weeks of school) and that would be 76,550 minutes of silence versus 5 minutes of recess. I let that sink in while I called them up one at a time to get ready for this week's Fun Friday. One by one they came up. We got to the boy who I had silently blamed all week in my head and nothing. My brain thought, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME! WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE CHILDREN OF TODAY?" I had almost made it to the end of the list when I heard the silence broken, "Miss Martin, I did it, it was me!" I looked across the room to see the tortured eyes of an eight year old. Can you imagine the guilt of knowing all week that it was you causing all this trouble. The class looked around in shock. None of us has suspected this little boy, not even me. I began to cry! I did not realize how much stress I had been carrying around over all this. I could not imagine letting the guilt build for a whole week. I had barely made it one hour when I was his age. I got myself composed and moved on from this whole ugly ordeal and he spent five minutes sitting out at recess after he apologized to the whole class. Luckily for me the lights were out and maybe they didn't realize that math made me cry :)


JLMartin said...

So many things about that story are so sad. Poor kids.

herb said...

I cannot believe the custodian would go so overboard just because somebody yells "YEAH" when the lights come back on.
Seriously? He got nothing better to do than harass little kids and make a teachers already difficult job even harder? I don't even want to imagine what that little boy went through and will probably have to endure until the end of the school-year from his classmates because of that bonehead jerk with a mop!
All those bathrooms and floors better be spick-and-span if he expects the kids to be on nothing but perfect behavior!

Ruth said...

I agree that all adults need to think before they say what will happen, like if you don't stop I am going to kill you :) Now, we don't want to have to kill anyone. Let's keep it reasonable people.
Our custodian is actually the best in the whole world. I have NEVER seen a cleaner school, so perfection he can expect.
I do hope the child never forgets this experience and makes sure this never happens again.
My class was actually very forgiving, as most children are, and were just relieved that the whole ordeal was over.

Cecilia said...

I agree with you that some of the punishments are ridiculous, but what a sweet story. Poor little boy.