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Monday, May 16, 2016

I am the island of misfit toys...

This time of year, I collect strays.

They gravitate to my room and orbit my kindness like so many unnamed planets.
My personal island of misfit toys...

I wish I knew why exactly.

I mean, I kind of do, but I kind of don't.

My plan periods come at the end of the day.

That should mean I have time to prepare for the next day.

And until April, it usually does.

But not anymore.

Now, stray children wander in and refuse to depart until they get what they need.

One day it will be an utterly disruptive, but incredibly likable young lady.

Her grade finally reflects her abilities. I don't know if that is my doing, but I have worked hard at gaining her trust and goodwill.

Her behavior has improved. I think she likes the novel we are reading.

But she is still irritatingly loud and volatile and unhappy most of the time.

She came in and asked what jobs she could do for me instead of going to class, because, as she put it, if she had to go in there, she was "gonna go off on that lady."

Last week another day, I played host to two girls who constantly skip my class fourth hour, but wouldn't leave sixth! Grrrrr.

They sat and worked for awhile.

Then they talked. And talked and talked and talked.

They complained about history classes not teaching enough "real" history.

I know what they mean, but I will not tolerate bad-mouthing other teachers.

And I can't change the history curriculum.

They talked about hating their peers for not following directions, even though they fail to follow directions almost every day.

They talked and I worked.

I got annoyed and asked them to leave. They didn't want to so they got busy and quit talking.

Why? What drew them into my space?

Then, another day, a young lady wandered in and told me she wanted to finish her assessment.

I asked her for a pass from her teacher.

She said "No. I am not going in there."

I gave her the rule-following spiel about reporting to the office, and the risks of being truant, and making good choices.

She just sat there and stared at me.

Then she got up and got a computer to finish her assessment.

I sighed, "Fine. But if you are truant and get detention, I will not get you out of it or cover for you."

She smiled "I know."

Explain, world, please, why? Why is she willing to sit in my empty classroom taking a god-awful BORING assessment and NOT willing to go to her assigned class?

It gets better.

Friday, three, yes THREE, of my most problematic task-avoiding, class-dirupting, failing miserably, constantly absent boys, did the same dang on thing.

Two of them at least had passes from their teachers.

And all three behaved perfectly. Used their time well. Worked hard. Read quietly. Asked intelligent questions. Things they NEVER do in my actual class.

Why? Why can do this sixth and seventh hour, but not fifth when they are actually assigned to me?

While they were there, my financial planner visited to have me sign some paper work.

We were interrupted by THREE other students during the five minute passing time.

One came in, walked over to the table, stood between me and my guest, turned her back on my guest and said "I just need a hug."

So I gave her one and she shot off towards class grinning.

Another came in for our signature handshake. This is a kid I have never had in class, but he adopted me and several of my hall mates. He spent over a year teaching me a four part handshake.

And at least three times a day, he comes by my room for a rendition.

He came over and held up a fist.

I didn't even turn towards him, just made the motions. That satisfied him. He smiled down at me and ambled away again.

The third interruption was a request for candy made with smiles, hand motions, and a quick sidling over to the candy bag.

A barely perceptible nod from me, and the child grabbed a lolli and scurried away without a word.

There are more stories like this.

Most of the fly bys are former students. They rarely come to stay these days.

I think I hosted someone every single day last week.

And I probably will do so until the school year ends.

I do know why. At least, I think I do.

I am their safe place. Their haven.

Maybe because I work so hard to make sure they know I love them no matter how much I hate their choices.

Maybe because if they are in my room, they probably won't get in trouble for wandering the halls.

Maybe because I almost never tell a kid they have no hope of passing my class, even when they have no hope of passing my class. I tell them learning matters more.

Maybe because I keep an ill-guarded bag of candy under my desk and look the other way when they want some.

Maybe, for some kids, I am the only one who in the building who speaks their love language.

If you aren't familiar with "The Five Love Languages of Children" by Chapman and Campbell, it is well worth the read. Though I would add food as its own separate category.

This is a curse and a blessing.

A curse because I can't get a blessed thing accomplished.

Because students need to go to class! They need to be independent and learn to cope already.

A blessing because every child should have a trusted adult for when they just can't deal.

Because in my room they are, at least, not causing trouble or disrupting classes. Because

Because they are working if they stay.

The joke on my hall is that I am the island of misfit toys.

My colleagues are also convinced the counselors stack my classes with needy greedy babies.

I wouldn't be surprised, but I don't really mind.

Because their visits are a gift of trust and I should cherish them as such.

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