Stories from my life as a teacher librarian in an urban school.
Here’s a life-hint regarding children – If you invite open-ended questions, they will come.
In the following scenario(s), I am bold. Students are not bold, although their questioning is bold. (See what I did there?)
“Yes? Do you have a question?”
Student 1: “Miss Evans, why do you have a boo boo?”
And thus begins the questioning.
Well…we often get booboos.
Student 1: BUT ARE YOU OKAY.
Yes, of course I’m okay.I’m here, teaching!
Student 2: I skinned BOTH my knees!
And are you ok?
Student 2: Yeah, I’m ok but I skinned both my knees.
Student 3: BUT MISS EVANS YOUR ELBOW HAS A BIG BOOBOO*(see: footnote1).
Ah, yes. (editor’s note: attempt at deflection) Did you notice I have other boo boos too?
Student 3: WHERE?!
*points to hand*
See that scar on my knuckle? That’s because I touched the hot oven last week. It was an accident.
Student 3: MISS EVANS YOUR OTHER FINGER
Oh. Yep, that’s another boo boo. I hurt myself on accident while cleaning this weekend.
Student 3: *blank stare*
You know, sometimes we just get hurt but it’s on accident. We don’t try to get hurt.
(something close enough to silence to count as actual silence when 20 kids are involved)
Does anyone know the word “clumsy”?
Student 4: IT MEANS YOU LAZY
Student 5: IT MEANS YOU CRAZY
Well, I might be crazy at times, but that’s not what clumsy means exactly.
Student 3 (again): IT MEANS YOU FALL DOWN
Yep, that’s close! Clumsy means sometimes you just get hurt but it’s on accident. Maybe you trip and fall, or walk into a door, or touch the oven, but it’s on accident.
Students (chorus): OHHHHHHHH
So, if you want to use clumsy in a sentence and show what you’ve learned today, you could say “Miss Evans is clumsy”.
Students (chorus): OHHHHH / HAHAHAHA OKAY
So! Are we done talking about being clumsy and can we learn about some animals now?!!!?
Students (chorus of approximately 16): YESSSSSS
Students (chorus of approximately 4): NOOOOOOOO THIS ONE TIME I GOT HURT AND
So let’s LEARN SOMETHING TODAY other than what clumsy means!
Class resumes at a moderate volume level; students proceed to learn about different animals.
- “I had a flamingo once but it ran away”
- “What’s a dugong DOES IT LIKE TO EAT PEOPLE” [answer: no, it likes seagrass]
- “We tried to see elephants at the zoo but they were getting a shower”
- –(student, guessing about new word): “It’s an….OTTER!”
—nope, good guess, it’s an ORANGUTAN. Can you say ORANGUTAN?
–student 1: it looks ORANGE and it has the word ORANGE
–student 2, interrupting: it looks TAN and it has the word TAN
—so, moving on to the PANDA BEAR!
You wish your day was as awesome as mine, AM I RIGHT?
I have a skin condition called psoriasis; it kinda sucks; it mostly shows up on my elbows and they looked a little ragged today. (Lo and behold, I scratched my elbow on accident over the weekend so it was red + psoriasis-y). Hence the questioning. Hence the deflecting, cause I didn’t think the whole “Well, sometimes life hands you lemons when you’re 15 and it turns out the lemons are really a chronic skin condition that’s never going to go away and you don’t even get lemonade outta the deal” spiel was necessary or appropriate for 5 year olds.