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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
30 Rock


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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Vanna, Show Them What They've Won!

I realized something the other day. The school year is already halfway over. I also realized my class roster has changed more times than the revolving door that seems to service Winona Ryder's boyfriends. In fact, if my class were a game show, it would be The Price Is Right. Kids come in, take a few guesses and leave soon after, never to be seen or heard from again. I thank them for playing and they get a few lovely parting gifts in the process.

At the beginning of the year, I had say 20 students on my class list. I'm guessing here because right from day one a few of those people never showed up. Then there were a few others that DID show up that were not on the "guest list".

Now stay with me here cause it gets rather murky in spots...

The first few weeks I got 2 new kids, one of which had the same name as 2 other kids in my class (let's call them the "Bryans"). But within the few weeks following that they took 2 kids out of my room (2 of the "Bryan's") and moved them to another room. This was a good thing because first year teacher (that's me) was swimming in "made for tv movie" children in the making, not to mention, a whole lot of "Bryan's".

All kidding aside, do you know how much work goes into getting a new kid? It's not as la di da as you might imagine. First, you have to make sure he has all the textbooks, notebooks, folders etc he needs. Then you have to feel out what type of student he/she is. Where they can and cannot sit. What they can and cannot handle academically. Then you have to orient them to the room. The kids love to do this. After the 30th new kid or so though, I'm sick of explaining the behavior plan. Silly me wants to do things like, oh I don't know, teach.

But then, the 2 new kids I had gotten? They were soon gone and along with them the last of the "Bryan's". So, poof! just like that, I went from three Bryan's to no Bryan's.

Then around Thanksgiving another one of my students left. Have no fear, however, because soon after that yet another student took his place. Now this student du jour was absent constantly and late even more so than she was absent. So, it came as no surprise that she was failing. Then around Christmas time, she didn't come to school for a whole week. Her mom called the office and said there was a death in the family. The school asked for a copy of the death certificate (the school is hard core that way). The mother said she would stop by to pick up the work her daughter had missed.

I don't think I have to tell you what happened next, but I will anyway.

The death certificate never came. The mother never came. And the daughter? Never. Came. Back.

So we come back from Christmas break and there, waiting for me under the proverbial Christmas tree is...(all together now) ANOTHER NEW STUDENT! She's been with us now for about a month which in my class is a virtual lifetime.

The other day I rearranged my whole room. I now had a good solid number of 18 kids and with February looming on the horizon, I thought it was safe to say I wouldn't be getting anymore kids anytime soon. So I condensed. Four tables of desks into 3 tables of desks. Now everyone could see the board better and I could see everyone better.

And then, it happened.

The phone call came midday on a Friday afternoon. "Miss Branagan, you're about to get a new student."

Seriously, I can't even make this s*** up if I tried.

His name is Jose. I'm using his real name here only to say I'm dying to look him squarely in the eye, scold him and say, "No way Jose!"

I thought to myself well, at least this time they had the decency to call before lugging him up the stairs. But now my wonderful activities in pairs? The 6 desks in a group thing? All of it, went out the window. Not literally, although if I could get the damn windows in my room to open, that would have been a distinct possiblity.

Adding insult to injury the latest new kid started on a theme day. You know. Wear your school color days. Wear your pajamas to school days. But this day wasn't just any theme day. Oh no. It was opposite day.

The kids love stuff like that. Teachers act like students. Students act like teachers. Shoes are on the wrong feet (although I made them switch them back).

You know how much fun opposite day is for the new kid? None at all. It's already confusing enough without "Alica" switching name tags with "Raphael" and "Raphael" only answering to "Rufus". You try figuring out where the cafeteria is when some wise ass wants to send you to the gym.

Everytime I lose or gain a new student, the class dynamics changes along with it. In fact, as soon as this news was fit to print, I got wind of another child leaving my class any day now. And thus the revolving door swings again.

One thing's for sure though, if this teaching thing doesn't work out, I've got a gig as a tour guide in the bag.



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