This is a long school year. There were snow days. Many, many snow days. There were weeks I managed to forget how to work full time. I like a good snow day, don't get me wrong.
I do not love a long school year.
We are hanging in there. We are, perhaps, a little more flexible in our teaching strategies. We are doing what it takes to somehow get this group of kids through to the last day with a minimum of office referrals, suspensions and detentions. My class is particularly prone to this sort of thing, I fear.
This is why I didn't really say much when The Boy With The Bass Booming Earbuds asked to go outside for a walk between classes. A staff member was available and he really needed the break. My patience was a little more tested when he came back inside with a friend.
"It's my new pet worm," he proudly announced. "He is green, he bites a little bit and his name is Squirt. Say hello to Squirt. Do it. DO IT!!!"
Sure enough, it was a green worm of the Very Wiggly Variety. I dutifully said hello because, if I didn't, I suspected TBWTBBE might take exception to that. Then I dug deep down into my reserves of Teacherly Tolerance for the strength to not make a big deal out of this. As much as I don't want a very wiggly worm (that bites) in my class, I knew it was a distraction and perhaps enough to keep a boy who is already done with this school year happy for the day.
And Squirt really did make him happy. He lugged him around the room. He let him crawl on his desk while he worked. He took him down to visit Mrs. Secretary Who Sits At The Back Desk and was thrilled to death when she screamed. Yup. Squirt did a fine job of bringing the happy and if he was looking a little worse for wear by lunchtime, I opted to not notice that. Or how he kept ending up in Spunky Girl's hair, for that matter. I knew that it was an early release day for TBWTBBE. He'd be leaving soon and then we could release Squirt back into the wild and let him run free as green, wiggly worms (that bite) were meant to do.
It was looking promising right up until TBWTBBE decided to put Squirt on the wall map. He wanted to see how far his little buddy could make it across Europe before the lunch bell rang. The fact that he put the worm on Africa doesn't speak well for my recent geography unit, but what are you gonna do? I had bigger problems at that point. It seems Squirt wasn't interested in backpacking across Eurafrica. He was tired.
And he fell into the heater.
TBWTBBE was crestfallen. Heartbroken. Inconsolable. And then it was time for lunch and he forgot all about it because that is sometimes how these things go. I bid a fond farewell to Squirt, thanked him for his sacrifice in the name of education and told the class that there would be no more creatures brought into the room. And that was that.
Except it wasn't.
The Future Farmer couldn't accept that this was the end of Squirt. He believed in the power of the wiggly worms (that bite). He took a stand on the matter and there was really very little I could do about it. He was not going to move on until I allowed him to deal with this tragic situation. And thus I found myself having the following conversation at the beginning of last period:
Mr. Assistant Principal: ...and that is the scheduling matter I'd like you to fix, Ms. Sheep.
Ms. Sheep: Why certainly, sir. Consider it done. Oh, and by the way, you don't care that we took the heater apart, do you?
MAP: Of course not...wait. What?
MS: The heater. We took it apart. See, there was this worm and it didn't want to travel across Eurafrica so he fell and it's not like we could just leave him in there!
MAP: OK. This is the part where you just walk out the door, close it behind you and don't tell me stuff anymore.
Squirt ended up being released, very much alive and well, into the great outdoors by day's end. He didn't go quietly. No, he escaped and hid during math, shutting down the entire classroom while we searched frantically for him. (Squirt is a very fast worm, not to mention crafty) He thwarted his departure ceremony by biting Spunky Girl and causing her to fling him into the grass long before we were ready. He didn't really cooperate with us once TBWTBBE was no longer there to keep him in check, if you want the truth. Frankly, I was glad to see the last of him.
Still, the whole saga helped the day along and that is what we need right about now. We are desperate. I'm grateful to little Squirt, if only for that.
Tomorrow I'm thinking of letting the kids try gator wrestling...
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