Business as Usual

The other afternoon during my lunch break – the thirty minutes minus whatever additional time I need to spend at my lunch duty in the cafeteria herding all the second and sixth graders to recess – I was in my classroom eating with a coworker of mine.  Mr. H is also a new teacher at my school and at my same grade level so it is nice to lunch with him and bounce ideas off each other.

I had just finished my vanilla Greek yogurt topped with fresh blackberries and sprinkled with granola when a student of mine came in escorted by a teacher who was on recess duty.  No good was to come of this, but at the time I had no idea how “no good” it was to become.

This particular student, well lets just say is challenging, and so I was not very impressed that he was sent back to the classroom for the duration of his recess (and my lunch time).

But it was much more complicated than that.

Apparently, completely separate from the reason he was removed from the playground, he had stepped in something most foul (read: dog poo).  I noticed it went I went over to where he was, sitting by the door, legs stretched out, crying and angrily muttering in his home language.  His low top black Converse knockoffs had streaked the fecal matter across the linoleum in two long lines and somehow he had managed to plaster a smear or two on a lower section of the wall.  It was completely unintentional.  He was simply upset for getting in trouble and had no idea what he had tracked in.

I took a deep breath and informed him of the situation.

I gave him a squirt bottle of cleaner and lots of paper towels and asked him to tackle the floor.

I took his shoe over to the sink and cleaned off the bottom of his shoe.  Shoe tread and dog poo are not a good combination.  Surprisingly enough I did not feel all that grumpy about it as I tried to dig most of the poo from the multiple shoe crevices with my fingernails (mental note:  keep an old toothbrush under the sink in the classroom).

I cleaned.  He cleaned.  I told him that I had done this many times before for my own children (all the time thinking in my head that I knew for a fact that he had no one at home that would clean the bottom of his shoes for him).  While we cleaned he calmed down and was able to talk to me about the altercation on the playground.  It was easier for him, I think, to have something to do , something to look at and focus on while he talked.  I listened and said nothing.

He washed his hands.  I washed my hands.  He refused to sit at his desk and instead lurked by the door.  I washed my hands again and then squirted hand sanitizer for extra measure.

I finished my lunch as if I had not just moments before had fecal matter under my fingernails.

The bell rang.

and it was business and usual.

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About shoes

I am an elementary school teacher, a former microbiologist, a mom to a herd of two boys, and a grilled cheese sandwich and beer connoisseur.
This entry was posted in Being a Teacher and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Business as Usual

  1. mamalisa4 says:

    You sound like a great teacher!!

    • shoes says:

      Thank you! Teaching is a second career for me and at the moment I am midway through my first year of it. It is all consuming but very rewarding. I can completely understand how burn-out happens and I am working on trying to find that balance between work and life. I used to be a regular blogger but in the past year and a half (getting my Masters and starting this new career) my blogging has suffered. My hope is to blog more, simply because I enjoy it so.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment!

  2. theroommom says:

    I’ll bet that will be the student who comes back in 10 years and says you made a difference. Glad you took a “mental picture” of the moment!

    • shoes says:

      I don’t know about that. He does not like me very much and has called me, what I imagine are some colorful names under his breath in his home language. He needs so much more than I can give him, but I can give him consistency and structure and support.

  3. Ron Byrnes says:

    Beautiful story. You’re (already) a credit to your profession.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Being a teacher seems like such a challenging/rewarding career. I’m sure that student appreciated your kindness and willingness to listen. 🙂

    • shoes says:

      While I knew it was going to be a tough profession, I had no idea just how tough it would be. I love my students and hope I am making a difference in their lives.

  5. Jilian Monro says:

    I must say that you are amazing educator! My son used to go in a kinder garden where one of the teachers not only didn’t help him to clean his dirty shoe but also make him feel ashamed. I don’t think that this is the main role of the teachers but at least they shouldn’t make your kid feel bad.

    • shoes says:

      Thank you for dropping by and leaving me a comment! I am sorry you and your son had such a negative experience. I hope that incident was not typical for that teacher. I tend to have classroom helpers, those who know how to tie shoes or whatever it is, and they can help their peers with those type of things when I can’t get to them at that moment. That said I would never have another student help clean doggie poo from another’s shoes, of course!

  6. Jilian Monro says:

    I am glad that there are still people like you!

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