Newslines From the Classroom

This is what happens when you have a candle burning on your desk all morning, and then at lunchtime you blow it out and immediately leave the classroom for a few minutes.

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You may also find drops of wax on the desk and on the floor. And you’ll find a troop of happy little girls proudly showing off their wax-coated finger tips. (I didn’t scold them, because I know how much fun it is to dip your fingers in candle wax. But I did make them clean the wax off the floor).

On my way back to my classroom just before discovering this, I met a group of giggling, ghostly-looking second-grade girls who had rubbed chalk all over their faces. I think it just might be time for spring to come so that we can send all our children out the door at lunchtime.

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We had a great time painting last week. My kids love paint. Actually, I love it too, and I think I had almost as much fun with this project as they did.

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I like how the finished product brightens up the hallway now. And I like how I can see my students’ personalities coming out in these paintings.

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If you don’t believe that small things can make a big difference, try being a teacher when lice show up in your school. Be prepared to speak calming words to the mass hysteria and to assure everyone that being infected with lice is not fatal. Yes, we had some cases of lice in our school. For a few days it seemed that lice dominated every conversation, including the teachers’ hangout time after school. And we learned about all the lice-deterring home remedies, while girls came to school with hair smelling of oils, vinegar, and Listerine, and boys showed up sporting super-short haircuts. I think lice could correctly be spelled D-R-A-M-A.

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Josephine has been found at last, after being in hiding since the middle of December. The girls all knew where she was, because they had hidden her one day at lunchtime when the boys had already rushed off to play dodge ball. The boys mostly gave up looking for her. But then one day last week they finally found her. So Josephine is back with us, looking rather pleased with herself after her winter’s hibernation.

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And I’ll leave you with a misquotation of Bible memory by a student: “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my medication” (Psalm 119:99).

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Lunch Break, Philosophy, and a Conversation

Sometimes lunch break at school is simply LOUD. It seems to be a shouting match, really. I have enough to do without trying to enforce voice-volume rules at lunchtime (you have to pick your battles wisely, you know), so mostly I just put up with it. It doesn’t help for me to say ever-so-logically, “If you would all just talk in a normal tone of voice, no one would have to shout to be heard.”

But I do love the times when the volume is (miraculously!) controlled enough to have some intelligent conversation, because lunchtime conversations in an elementary classroom offer a great education in philosophy. After lunch yesterday I had a break while my students left the room for music class, so I ignored my stacks of papers to grade and quickly wrote down as much of the day’s lunchtime conversation as I could remember. Here’s the best transcription I can offer (without real names, since I have a personal policy of never using my students’ names on this blog):

Boy 1 is busy pouring a sugar-free drink mix into a cup of water. He is on a restricted diet because of some health issues. He says to Boy 2: “You should tell your mom to get some of this drink mix. It’s good! And it’s good for you because it’s sugar-free.”

Boy 2: “Well, healthy stuff is more expensive, and all my mom cares about right now is how expensive stuff is.”

Girl 1 (disdainfully): “All my mom cares about is healthy food!”

Girl 2: “I know! It seems all people talk about right now is healthy food.”

Me: “Don’t you want to be healthy?”

Girl 2: “No! I don’t want to live long!”

Boy 3: “Yeah, who wants to live long? You just get old and can’t do anything anyway.”

Girl 2: “So you shouldn’t eat healthy. That way you won’t live as long and you can go to heaven sooner.”

Me: “But don’t you want to be healthy while you’re alive?”

Other people chime in with their opinions, loudly trying to convince Girl 2 that her logic is a little faulty. She finally backs down a little, and thereafter follows a discussion about the merits of a healthy lifestyle. The students conclude, after a fashion, that the purpose of being healthy is not to live longer but to be able to serve God better while you are alive. I merely listen and am impressed that they come to this conclusion on their own. Conversation continues.

Girl 2: “My brother says if he would get cancer he would just go out and preach to a whole bunch of people so that he could help them become Christians before he dies.”

Girl 3: “I hope if I would die I would just die without being in a lot of pain.”

Boy 4: “I know. That would be so awful to be in pain for a long time before you die.”

Girl 4: “Guys. How about we talk about something else besides people dying?”

Girl 5 (suddenly squealing loudly and pointing her finger): “Haha! It’s (Boy 2)’s fault because he started it!”

Boy 1 (entirely too eager to claim the credit): “No, it was me! It was me that started it because I was telling (Boy 2) about that drink mix. It was me, it was me!”

Boy 2: “Come on. Let’s go play dodgeball now.”