Random Notions and Stories of Teaching

April 07, 2005

What a day!

There are days when I really question why I wanted to become a teacher. I am so sick of the griping and the whining and the tattling that I just want to scream! I've become every teacher I swore I'd never be like. I'm every mean sub I ever hated when I was in school. In short...sometimes I have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

But not today!

I love it when an activity really "gets" the kids. You can see them thinking. It's wonderful! Today I worked in 3rd grade again (same guy as last week). Yesterday, I was informed that the students are back to fighting, bickering, squabbling and otherwise being unkind to each other.

When I was there before we did a demonstration with an apple. We were mean to one apple (said mean things and dropped it A LOT) and we were nice to the other apple (were careful with it...didn't drop it). Then we cut the apples open and saw what they looked like inside. We compared the bruised apple to how people feel when others are unkind.

So today, I decided...fine, they're going to experience what they are doing to each other firsthand. I saw an activity similar to this on Oprah and BOY did it stick with me.

When I arrived at school, I made yellow arm bands. Then I put these armbands on the 4 blonde children in the class. I wanted most of the class to feel excluded because it would make a better impact. The 4 kids were then allowed out of their seat when the others couldn't. They got to line up first and go to Composition first. They were able to talk in the hall and the others were not. Luckily, their composition teacher was in on the whole thing too. I told her how wonderful the 4 students were and that the others were trouble. Already, the "unfairs" were being heard.

She truly made the experience stick. She only let the 4 students use the computer...the others had to sit down. She told the 4 students to correct their mistakes on a paper, while the others had to completely rewrite it. She gave one of the 4 students her brand new crayons...another student that asked for crayons had to borrow from someone else.

The kids were truly stunned. I might be crazy...but one of their regular teacher's was doing this? What the heck!

Halfway through class, it was time for them to go to the library. CT (composition teacher) had the 4 children sit in the front. Others came to sit around them..."oh no...they need to be in the front where they can see and hear best. You sit back there with the rest of the class." Luckily, the librarian played along too. After the story, the other children weren't allowed to check their book out until the 4 children had found and checked their books out. All the while...."unfair!" If looks could kill....whoa. I met them walking up the hall while I was picking up my second class and one of the 4 said to me, "If this continues...I won't have any friends by tomorrow." That's right he wouldn't...he was enjoying his "specialness" until about then...now it wasn't so fun.

When I got them back, I switched. Suddenly the 4 children weren't the best. They had to sit at a table all by themselves. No matter what, I wouldn't call on them to read. I even told them they would have a homework assignment and the other students would not.

At that point I stopped the lesson and began the real lesson. First, I had everyone get out a sheet of paper and write how they felt. Once I had those, we made a list on the board of the feelings they experienced...sad, mad, angry, frustrated, left out, lonely, etc.
We talked about how they felt and how that relates to the hatefulness that they're doing in class and at recess. I could see the lightbulbs go on.

It truly was a great day! Now I just hope they remember this for more than a week.


  • At 2:27 PM, April 17, 2005, Blogger Sub007 said…

    Wow, what a great idea! This would be an excellent exercise (and the apple one) for those teachers who struggle with their students always fighting with each other. Unfortunately, it won't work so well with the upper levels, but it's an excellent idea for primary schools.


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