Monday, January 24, 2011

Teacher's Pet?

Being a teacher of little kids is a lot like being a mom to little kids.  In other words, totally frustrating, completely chaotic, and often horrifying.  haha!  I am not even kidding.

One thing that comes up a lot is the idea of "favorites".  I tell both my kids they are my favorite.  And it's totally true, so I don't feel bad at all.  Maybe there's some way I'm supposed to avoid using the word "favorite" at all, maybe I'm damaging them both (add it to the long list of things they'll be discussing in the future with either a talk-show host or a therapist), but it's true anyway.  They are, each of them, my very favorite person in the whole world.  I don't understand the physics of how this works, it just does.  It's like the sum of your favorite is greater than the parts of your favorite.  Or something.

Okay, so it works with my boys.  But then I run into this problem at school, too.  And it's not because I have "a favorite" in my class... it's more because every kid totally needs something different at different times, and I can't meet every need (see also:  I am only human) but every once in a while, there's such an obvious choice I can make to do something for someone and it always makes me stop for a second.  Should I not do THIS THING for THIS KID if I can't do EVERYTHING for EVERY KID?  When I write it out like this, it sounds absurd!  Of course, any rational person would choose the first, knowing the latter is impossible, and that even the question itself is totally ludicrous.

Yet, here we are.

Bianca is in my class, and she and a few other students gave me presents before the winter break.  I got drug store chocolates, a teddy bear, some Dove soap, and a beaded glamour bracelet.  I love each and every thing, and I wrote each student a thank you card and sent it to their homes during the two week break.

I probably don't have to tell you the profound effect this had and these kiddos.  I totally get it of course.  I feel the same way when I get mail today that's REAL mail, you know what I mean?  And I'm grown!  For a kid to get mail?  From teacher?  On a handmade card?  It's the trifecta!

I don't hand make cards, but I have very talented friends who do (that would be in Real Life and The Internets!) so they got some dang cute cards, I don't mind telling you. Bianca, in particular, asked me about how to make these.  She's carrying it around with her, by the way.  They all do.  

So, I don't make cards, and I don't scrapbook either, but for some reason, I have some supplies in my possession.  Pretty papers, some card stock, stickers, embellishments... I can remember coming across a couple of kits at deep-deep-discounts (like, a few dollars instead of forty!) and picking them up, but then never using them.  As you do.

I was cleaning the garage this last weekend, and I found this wooden box and these supplies.  I loaded a sampling of the papers and cardstock, plus just about all the sticker and embellishments, into the fancy box.

One thing that I included was this fun pattern for making your own envelopes.  It's the one thing I've used the pretty patterned paper for, actually, and they are super cute, for sure.

So, I opted for a tactical offensive move.  I get to work early, and no matter what time I get there, there are a group of kids eager to come into the classroom with me.  (Sometimes I need quiet; but I never turn them away...I turn them away at lunch at least twice a week though.  Honestly, sometimes I just need peace.  Left to their own devices, 80% of my class would never leave the room.  Okay.  But get out of my grill for 10 minutes, what do ya say?) This morning, the young ladies who joined me, I shared with them this present for Bianca (she wasn't there) and together we made a sample card, using the supplies so they could see how it worked.  Then, we decided there was something missing, so we  added glue and a couple pairs of scissors I've had forever, they are fancy scissors that cut wavy edges?  I told them this was for Bianca, and because B is such a peach of a kid, and because I managed to make them feel like the present was also from them, they were all on board for the gifting.  We left it on her desk and she LOVED it.

B of course is the kind of kid who shares readily, and soon enough, a group of girls was working on a card for Sweet Alice, who was missing her uncle in the cafeteria (I do not pretend to understand) and everybody seemed pretty happy.  Of course, tomorrow I'll be parsing out the rest of the patterned papers I have here at the house to the other girls who were such good sports about it all.

I'm such a sucker.  :)


  1. What a great story! I bet your students just love you so much. We used to have a box with notecards, envelopes, paper and stamps so the kindergartners could write cards. They LOVED that activity.
    You know, with my own kids, I give them regular favorite child status updates. The favorite child being the one who has most recently called or visited me. :-) And just because they have some phrase, what is it ?, "guilt trip phone message", doesn't mean my game doesn't work. Does it?

  2. Mia, I remember, to this day, my 9th grade algebra teacher, Mrs. Hung, upon handing out grades said something like the grade you receive depends on whether or not I like you. Let me just say she didn't like me and I was not even a trouble maker. I just needed a little more attention. Happy to say I can do algebra today- no thanks to Mrs. Hung. Moose

  3. Did you not learn anything from our trip to the grocery store back in High School? I only had one quarter and there were several kids in front of the candy machine... I told you then that it is human nature to pick a favorite. lol!

  4. You are so funny. Aren't all teachers human? I think we spend precious time beating ourselves up. I know I do! I really love that you used your cards for your students... don't you love how little people appreciate things like that? So sweet.

    P.S. Thanks for the internets love. :)

  5. @Laurie ~ I'm totally going to use your strategy! My love, it can be bought, with phone calls and visits. You're a genius!

    @Moose ~ That story horrifies me! I'm glad you didn't let her keep you from quadratic equations. :)

    @Tra ~ ha!haha! You would NOT believe how many times I've thought about that exact moment over the years!

    @Carmen ~ You know, I think I've told you this, but I was totally hoarding the cards you made me, but I did use two of them, ever-so-lovingly, and you are so was exactly the right decision! I could not have planned better the exact right people. :)

  6. Love-love-love!! Bianca will have such a treasured memory!! Sometimes I wish I was a regular classroom teacher for this very reason. Being the music teacher, I only see my students once a week, and even though I have them from K-5th grade, I don't feel like I get to know enough of them. I teach about 700 students, so I try not to beat myself up about it.
    Thanks for sharing this lovely story!!

  7. @ Nancy ~ Did I know you teach music? That's wonderful. I have been grumping and stomping all year because my babies haven't gotten music!! FINALLY they switched us with another class (mid-year) so now we're getting music. The other class is getting a double-p.e., which they say works for them, so I didn't spend too long poking at that! Every once in awhile, I consider teaching middle school or high school math, but that 700-students-thing is exactly why I stay put! It's just so lovely to have ALL THAT time with ALL THOSE KIDS. :)