ABC COUNTDOWN TO RETIREMENT: O is for…

May 28, 2015

A few years ago when I was a bilingual 2nd grade classroom teacher , we were also doing an ABC countdown at school. O was Oreo Day. So today’s entry is called
O is for Outside With Oreos Day, even though it is actually the story of an afternoon field trip.

OreoIn spite of my voice being a little ragged from sinus congestion, the morning went by as usual, with me checking the radar for rain coming in the afternoon. When I checked it around 10:15, the radar showed that the sky would be clear this afternoon, meaning we could take our walking field trip to the library!

Counting Change
During math, I tried to teach the concept of counting up to make change according using the problem suggested in the book. I have always been lousy at counting up to make change, where the cashier starts with the amount you owe and counts up with the coins and bills until he/she reaches the amount you’ve actually paid. I plowed through this but Imaking change was confused and therefore confusing. By the time we got to the activity we were to do, I was only able to get through the sample before it was time to go to recess. So when the kids went out for recess followed by lunch, they had left all their math books open on their desks. After lunch, we right away went on our group bathroom break, so they didn’t have a chance to put away anything. I figured they’d have time to do it when we got back.
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Bathroom Break

I had two chaperones – the moms of two of my students. I wanted to set out promptly at 12:30 but still had kids in the bathroom. One of the boys came out and told me Kevin had thrown up. I sent someone to the office to page the custodian, figuring it would be all over the floor, but apparently he did it in the toilet. Next thing I knew, I got reports that 2 or 3 others had also thrown up!! What was going on? I left the kids under the supervision of the parents and went down to the office and calmly said to the office secretary, “Several of my boys have thrown up in the bathroom.”. The school nurse heard me and said, “Oh, that happens – one vomits and then others see it and vomit also.”
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What?? I’d never heard of this phenomenon, at least not with vomiting.
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Anyway, the nurse decided she’d better come down and examine them. It turned out to be only 3 – Kevin,  Andy and Jose. She took them all down to the office and examined them. Meanwhile, I had the kids sit in the entryway outside the boys’ bathroom.
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By 12:40 she and the boys were back. She said there was nothing wrong with any of them. One of them told me she put a stick on their tongue. Jose still looked a little under the weather, but I told him: It’s okay to stay here, but then he would have to spend the afternoon in the nurse’s office and his parents would be called to take him home. No, he didn’t want that.
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The trek to the library
So finally at about 12:45 we set out, me with a bag over my shoulder containing my water bottle, a packet of tissues and a package of Oreos. I knew we’d probably be late, but had forgotten to bring the phone number of the library to be able to call them and tell them this.
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I walked in front, Mrs. Ramos in the middle, Mrs. Gonzalez in the back. I tried to keep kids from getting too far ahead. Miguel had to help me by calling to them since I didn’t have enough volume in my voice to get their attention. We walked down Ridge, and I had to make sure they all stayed on the left side when a car would come. For some reason, this town doesn’t have sidewalks, (Probably too cheap!!) so we had to walk on the road and on the edges of lawns.
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When we got to the intersection of Ridge and Oak St., I thought we had to keep going. The road curved a little bit, which I didn’t remember from our walking trip last fall, but kept going. I thought the library was on Main St., where there was a cluster of city buildings, or so I remembered. When we started walking down Main St. (again, with no sidewalks, we walked in the tall grass while cars zoomed by), I had a really sinking feeling that we hadn’t gone the right way. I didn’t remember walking on Main St. on our field trip last September at all.
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I stopped my group and let the others catch up to us. I asked the other parents if they knew if we were going the right way. Mrs. Ramos knew we had gone too far. She said we should have turned right at the other intersection, with Oak. But she had been too far behind to get my attention, and I had walked on oblivious.
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Why didn’t I go in back? – that way I could see all the kids ahead of me, I cursed myself. But I thought I knew the way (and didn’t even check the library’s address before setting out?? Really stupid). I felt embarrassed in front of these parents who knew better than I did where to go. And now we were even more late and had to double back. It was hot and we were all thirsty. I had a water bottle but most of the kids didn’t and they kept asking when they could get a drink of water.
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We had brought little cups, at Mrs. Ramos’s suggestion, to pour water into for them, so she did pour some of her water into these cups, which helped a little. I told the kids to hold on to these cups.
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At the library
By the time we reached the library it was 1:20! We were twenty minutes late for a ½ hour stay!! How embarrassing! Mrs. Jones was waiting for us and was very gracious, but she did inform us that at 1:30 another school group from Ike was due to arrive so it would get crowded. But since it was that class’s third visit, at least they knew what to do!
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She showed us where all the different kinds of books were in the youth department, as well as the games. You can even check out video games if you have a public library card! Only three of my students had library cards, so they could also check out books if they wanted.
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For the rest of our shortened stay there, most of the kids chose to play the games – there were giant checkers and chess sets and some other things. I helped kids who were looking for books, feeling a constant sense of urgency and self-anger. It was my fault they were being rushed and my fault that they wouldn’t have time to get free books today. I was glad that at least that morning, I had given them all a free book that had been donated by the district’s reading coordinator to all the kids at the PAC meeting the previous week.
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Oreos
At 2:50 we got the kids all lined up and went out into the foyer, where they took long drinks from the drinking fountains and we passed out 2 Oreos to each kid. With mouths full of Oreos-bagchocolate and white cream filling and cookie crumbs on their hands, we had to rush them outside to head back to school. It was about 2:55 when we finally led them out and began our brisk walk back. Well, brisk as it can be with twenty 7-8 year olds in tow! I was worried about the kids missing their buses!
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Another wrong turn
Even on the way back, I turned up the wrong street – Hodges instead of Ridge, so that we came out onto the road the school was on a little south of the campus and had to walk once again in the grass next to a busy street. We got back just in time – the buses were all lined up in front of the schools! I told the kids that they would have to just get on the buses and go home without their backpacks. They were quite taken aback by this, but really, as I explained, do they really need them? The homework I had given thus far was only spelling which wasn’t due until Friday. This calmed them, so the kids going on the buses lined up already went immediately to their buses.
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The majority of my kids, however, take what is called the “white” bus (it’s not white, but the cone placed on the sidewalk where the bus pulls up is white). The white bus is always late, because it has to go to another school to pick up special ed kids first.  I did allow these kids to quickly go get their backpacks and other stuff if they wanted to, which some of them did – they had taken all kinds of stuff from my recycling that I had put there during the weekend when I cleaned out the big cabinet behind my desk. I had given Diana the cloud dry erase board that I had used at the beginning of the year before I had a Smart Board.
The two girls who were with their moms, of course, were able to go back to the classroom and take their time.
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Quiet at last!
After they were all gone, I relished the silence in my room. I was surprisingly not tired – the brisk walk (probably 2 miles total, since we’d taken a detour) had done me good. I thought about how I had apologized to the parents, and they of course said it was no problem, but seriously, WHAT must they be thinking of me?? This is the most disorganized teacher in the world, probably. No, I thought, just a teacher with ADD!

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