Skip to main content

Is That Chocolate or Poop?

If you looked at me at some point after 7:00 AM today, you would notice many splotches of brown all over my pants. Thankfully I don’t have to do the smell or taste test to see if it’s chocolate or poop—it’s chocolate sauce from a student’s frozen coffee beverage from this morning.

I pride myself on having an open and inviting classroom environment. I get to school early to work, and I welcome any students into my room after I arrive. It’s mostly a quiet space, and they can use a computer, print a document, or work with a partner on a project. School was a safe place for me growing up, so I think it’s my obligation to give that back to students today.

Around 7:00 AM, I announced to the students in my classroom that they had to get to first hour. I needed to visit a colleague, and it’s not good practice to leave students in your classroom unattended. So as I made my way to the door, another student arrived. Carrying two frozen drinks, she set them down on a desk. Little did we expect, one of the drinks slid off, hit the chair portion of the desk, and opened. The force of the drink hitting the chair sent chunks of the frozen concoction in every direction, including my pants.

I channeled the stoic in me. Accidents happen. I can get mad, but what would that solve? How would that fix the spill on my floor or help the student who clearly had an accident? It wouldn’t, so I instantly reached for the paper towel and we set out to clean up the drink.

I thought I had wiped my pants thoroughly. I thought I had gotten the whipped topping off my shoe. I thought I had wiped the chocolate smear on my pant leg enough. I thought I had gotten everything. I didn’t realize until later that the chocolate sauce was all around my ankles and sides until students pointed it out during a scheduled tornado drill during second hour.

Popular posts from this blog

Handwritten Cue Cards in the 21st Century

I just stumbled upon this behind-the-scenes clip of Saturday Night Live's cue card process.

This is intense writing. This is writing that is dependent upon trust and checks and balances.

Over a short period of time, skits are written, drafted on cards, revised, and the cards revised over and over again.

I also really love that SNL continues to use cue cards and not a teleprompter. Like Wally points out, technology can fail. Handwritten cue cards ensure the show goes on.

Comedy is hard work. Writing is hard work. Changes are made up until the last minute to get things just right. This is a form of real-world writing.

I should’ve taken the time

Yesterday during a teacher observation, a student asked me to step into the hall and talk with them. At the time, it didn’t seem urgent. With this student in particular, we have talked often. Sometimes it was important, other times—from my perspective—it didn’t seem that urgent. 
When I asked her if it could wait 10 minutes, she shut down. I could see the change in how she sat and participated, withdrawing into her desk and no longer asking for help from those around her. There was a noticeable difference in how she interacted with her peers the minute those words came out. 
When I noticed the change, I tried to drop everything right there and talk with her. Let’s go talk, right now, I said. No, it’s fine, she replied. And despite my multiple check-ins while she was working independently, she declined the opportunity to talk again that hour. 
Without even realizing it, I had damaged our relationship. 
We ended up talking later that the day. I saw her as she walked to her next class period…

Like in comedy, timing is everything

I regularly listen to the School Leadership Series and today's episode, "Slump or Spark?", made me think about initiatives, goals, and how we often get stuck in the middle.

Danny encourages us to think about the middle, the "often overlooked time." He encourages us to think about midpoints, the lull, and how we can transform them into sparks instead of slumps. He encourages us to be aware of them, use them to "wake up," and to imagine that we are behind rather than ahead in order to motivate us out of "coast" mode.

He also mentions Dan Pink's When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing in the episode. In this book, Pink gives advice for the varied levels of commitment during the middle: "... when team commitment to achieving a goal is high, it's best to emphasize the work that remains. But when team commitment is low, it's wiser to emphasize the progress that has already been made even if it is not massive" (p. 139).