Saved by a Book

  You know those nightmares you have before school starts where everyone and everything is out of control?  I had one of those days today.  Ok, it wasn't the whole day.  It was just math class.  But I was ready to throw in the towel by 9:30 AM (and it takes a lot for me to want to throw in the towel).  The math lesson was too hard, I had a child in tears because he was frustrated, and on top of that the document camera kept shutting down as I was trying to walk the kids through our lesson.  I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks, as I struggled with the Elmo camera and heard the following at the same time (I might add that both kids were out of their seats and standing right behind me as I wrestled with the technology):  "Mrs. Johnson, I have to go to the bathroom.  It's an emergency. Mrs. Johnson, my throat is really dry, even though I keep getting drinks.  I told my mom but she didn't say anything."  I wish I knew how to write those two sentences on top of each other, because that's what it sounded like.  The noise level was rising (reminding me of my own classmates talking as the teacher fiddled with the film projector), as was my frustration.  As I imagined leaping into my car and driving far, far away to some sandy beach with blue water, I took a deep breath and stopped.  I didn't finish the lesson. I just stopped and told the kids that we needed to take a break from math.  We all did some deep breathing and I glanced on my desk.  Sitting there was a new title that a colleague had given me, telling me it was hilarious.  I knew it was what we needed.

I gathered my young learners around me and we opened the book.  In this story, Michael loves to collect words, all kinds of words.  Then he hears a bad word that he kind of likes.  His sister warns him that the word is inappropriate, but her pays her no mind.  Before you know it, he's got lots of kids saying the bad word.  My students were laughing out loud as I read the story, piping in with their own stories of bad words.

Before we knew it, it was time for gym - the perfect way to get rid of any extra stress.  We left the classroom in a much better frame of mind.  The Very Inappropriate Word helped us regroup and refocus and get on with our day.  Thank goodness!  I really can't afford an exotic vacation right now, and I really do love my job.  Lucky for us, the rest of the day went on without a problem and we all agreed that we were glad to have that math lesson behind us.

Thank you to Ruth and Stacey for hosting Slice of Life Tuesdays.  You can read more posts on their blog.


  1. You know I'm going to say we've all been there. The great teacher still notices that something different is needed, AND that one idea is right on the desk! Good for you, Julie, books win (and students too).

  2. Thank goodness for the colleague who left you that book! Everything gets better with a funny story. Glad the rest of the day went better.

  3. I love that you stopped, told the kids what was going on, and let yourself be saved by a book! This little slice of your teaching shows what a truly exemplary educator you are, because real teachers care about kids!!! Good luck with the math tomorrow -- I'm sure you will make the perfect adjustments!

  4. Way to knew when to stop the lesson, shift gears and regroup. And how marvelous that you had the perfect book with which to do this!

  5. Part of being the best teacher is knowing when to admit frustration,change directions and figure out what everyone needs next. I love your honesty as you give us a slice of what real teaching, in a real classroom with real kids looks like. And of course, you know I have a prompt on bad words
    (Head Swivelers) so I just have to buy this book ;-0

  6. I love how real you are, Julie. You celebrate every bit of learning that goes on in your room -- including those unplanned heat-in-the-cheeks (the face ones. hehe) moments that we ALL have, and that you were very transparent with your kids about. That's a class period to celebrate!

  7. Great teachers are suppose to think on their feet. You displayed this, by doing just that.I admired the way you took control and did not let the fact that things were not going as planned kept you flustered.Instead you took control and redirected your students energy into an enjoyable activity which i am sure impacted on them.while doing this you also taught them an important social skill-the importance of appropriate words,as teachers we often neglect this side of the students development and instead focus on content delivery in order to measure concepts understanding.

    I am sure your children enjoyed the rest of the day because of your inventiveness and the fact that you remained in control of the situation , we all know this could have ended differently.

    I especially admired your honesty about the difficulty of math lesson ,some teachers might have blamed the student instead of examining his or her self.This shows that you care about your students and know when things are not going as they should.

    It is my conclusion that you are not afraid of self-evaluation, as many teachers i know are.your handling of the situation and your honesty has led me to believe you are a great teacher.I will certainly employ your strategy if i am ever faced with a similar situation.

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