Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Marbles in a Jar

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," searching for weapons of mass destruction since 2000! Haven't found any. Sorry. I'll keep looking, though. I promise.

Both of my parents were teachers, so it was the last thing I ever wanted to do. Unfortunately I lost my job in 2004 (after 20 years of service), and about all I could do in a jiffy was apply for a substitute teaching license. Mostly I've been working at a magnet high school for inner city kids, but right now I'm between long term positions and I didn't want to go to that school day-to-day.

To answer your question, yes. I do need a full time job. If you have any suggestions, lob them at me.

Last night the phone rang, and the substitute schedule lady from Snobville was on the line. Would I do a morning in pre-kindergarten?

It was either that or a whole day of sixth grade. Wow, that decision was a no-brainer. Pre-k all the way!

There were seven cute tots in the class with three teachers, including me.

True to the nature of young human beings everywhere, the tots sized up the situation and promptly moved into "hey, we have a sub" mode. In other words, they were a just a bit je ne sais quoi ... rowdy. But not too rowdy. Looking around, I wouldn't have thought they were exponentially more rowdy than they would be with the regular teacher standing guard.

The regular teacher had a jar of marbles on a book case. I was told that when the students were good, she added marbles, and when they were bad she took marbles out. The object was to fill the jar to the tip-top and then have a party.

Morning circle had hardly commenced before the teacher's aide snatched a fistful of marbles from the jar. Then we moved into small groups. A darling little girl in my group told me I was sitting in the wrong chair and showed me the teacher's chair. For that, I said, I would put a marble in the jar.

"Only one marble!" the teacher's aide told me.

Dutifully I snatched two marbles and dropped them discreetly into the jar.

We did the math worksheet, broke for snack, and returned to small groups for another worksheet. (Nope, kindergarten ain't what it used to be, geezers, I promise you that!) Then we returned to our circle, and the kids got just a tad rowdy again. Just a tad. An iddy biddy tad. No reason to call 9-1-1 or anything. No neighboring teacher peeking in to see if the sub needed help. Just a few little boys laughing.

Swoop! Down flies the teacher's aide into the marble jar! Out with another whopping fistful of marbles!

I said to my seven charges: "Oh my. Everyone look at Ms. J. Let's be really good and try to earn back some of those marbles."

Fourteen soulful eyes met mine. Silence reigned supreme.

But the aide said, "Oh, it's not that easy to earn marbles. Not at all!"

By 11:15 I was not only certain that I was the most hapless substitute teacher of all time, but I was also thoroughly convinced that I couldn't hack kindergarten if I had to return to it in the twenty-first century.
I slunk out of that shiny classroom like a snake who just got caught plucking peeps from the henhouse.

Hours later I'm sitting here calculating the marble deficit and wishing I could see how that pre-k teacher runs things when she's there. I did meet her -- she seemed very stern -- but let's get real here. How quiet can you keep seven tiny kids? Guess I sucked at it.

But here's good news for the CIA. I didn't see any weapons of mass destruction in the pre-k kindergarden room at Truman C. Tewell Elementary. So there's one location you can rule out.



Emily G. W. Lilly said...

Okay. That was SAD. Tiny little kids, whose current developmental goal is to MOVE, are forced into sitting still (and quiet!), by a highly long-term bribery project.

Call me a geezer if you want, but the developmental literature does NOT condone this sort of educational environment. It's little episodes like this that have made me switch from calling public education "misguided" or merely "bad" into what it really is: child abuse.

That's why I send _my_ kids to a Waldorf school--no book learning at all until 1st grade, and no worksheets, ever.

If I didn't send them there, I'd keep them home. "No Child Left Behind" is criminal.

Stepping off of my favorite soapbox, I must say that I gave a little cheer when you snuck that extra marble in!

yellowdog granny said...

I would never make it..I would be instigating them into full riot gear...what's the sense of having only 7 kids and not letting them get rowdy?...I'd sneak back and fill the jar up full of marbles..

Maeve said...

LOL! Right on, Yellowdog Granny. That was my first thought "I'd have snuck over there and added loads of marbles". :D

I can't imagine trying to keep pre-K kids still and obedient for an entire morning. *twitch*