Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Multi Tasking

I was multi-tasking back when it was called “being scattered.”  It is a skill that is inherent in teachers.  If you are missing that particular gene, you are better off becoming an accountant or some profession that does not involve swarms of children.

I recall one bright, sunny, Friday morning.  I walked down the sidewalk to greet my students, who were standing in a quiet, sleepy line.  I said “Good morning,” and one little girl answered my greeting with a dramatic, “I need to take my spelling test!”

“You can take it later when I give it to the rest of the group, and good morning back to you, too.”

“No! No! No!” she exclaimed nearing hysteria, I didn’t get to take it yesterday because I had to go to the dentist!  I need to take it RIGHT NOW!!”

I should explain.  At the time, I gave the spelling test on Thursday afternoon.  The children who made 100% got to read a book of their choice on Friday while those who did not get one hundred percent had a second chance to achieve that goal.  There was a self-imposed stigma upon those who had to take the test on Friday. Clearly, this one didn’t want to be a part of the dreaded Non-One-Hundred-Percent-on-Thursday-Group.

“Oh good grief, OK,” I gave in.

We entered the classroom in a noisy scramble of getting homework out of backpacks and preparation for the day. 

“Josie, get your paper ready for your spelling test.”

-Take your seats, please.  Who’s absent?  Jason?  Is he sick?  Does anyone know anything about Jason?”

Interrupting child: “My mother sent you this note.  It’s about multiplication.”

Me: “Put it on my desk, please.”

Here’s your first word Josie, *circle*.

Me: “Raise your hand if… (Phone rings.)

 (Word number two—*shirt*.)
Interrupting child, “Jason’s not sick.  He is just going to Disneyland.”
Another child: “OH. Luuucky.”

Me: “Michelle, they need you in the nurse’s office.  I don’t know why.”

Josie, number three, *dirt*

Me “Raise your hand if you are eating in the cafeteria.
Katie, will you collect the permission slips for the field trip?  Thank you.”

Number four,  *hurt*

Me: “Only three people are eating in the cafeteria?  Let me guess, they are serving that mushy gravy stuff today.

(Sounds of groaning fill the morning air.)  

Me: “Sweetie, go get a tissue and wipe your nose.”

What number are we on, Josie? Oh, yes, five… *circus*

Interrupting child: “Can I call my mom?  I don’t want to eat in the cafeteria after all.”

Me: “You can call at recess.”

Interrupting child: “Mrs. Guinn, how old are you?”

Me: “Go sit down, Please.”

Number six…*bird*

Interrupting child: “I can’t find my homework!  Can I call my mother?”

Me: “You can call at recess.”

Interrupting child: “Someone stole my lunch money!”

Interrupting  child: “OH NO!”  (Something is scattering all over the floor.)

Number seven…*bird*

Josie:  “You already said that!

Me: “What? Oh, sorry, *curtain*.

Interrupting child: “Help, my pearls broke!  My grandma gave them to me and they’re REAL!!!”

Interrupting child: “Here is my homework that I forgot yesterday.”

Me: “Put it on my desk, please.”

Me: (Now crawling on the floor.)  “You shouldn’t wear something like this to school!  Pearls do not belong at school.”
To Josie *CHURCH*

Interrupting child: “Here are the permission slips, Jeremy forgot his.”

Me: (Still picking up the Real Pearls.)  “Put them on my desk, please.”

Me:  *certain*  “What number was that?”

As I sit back on my heels to survey the room for any more errant pearls and check the book for the next spelling word, Michelle comes back from the nurse’s office and leans down to whisper in my ear, her luxuriously, long hair falling all around me, “Mrs. Guinn, I have to go home.  I have head lice.”

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