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thank you mrs. gabbard

I did not like my first grade teacher. She used to staple notes to my shirt telling my mom that I talked back. She wrote messy on my ditto copied worksheets. She gave me a zero on a paper on greater than less than signs. I had them flipped, meaning I was 100% correct, just backwards…She should have taken off like 10 points or something NOT give me a big fat goose egg. She even made me cry once. I do not look back on first grade fondly.
After my morning teaching 1st and 2nd grade Sunday school though, I am considering writing her a big thank you letter and sending a bottle of wine.
So I seldom do my part at church, so when my friend Christy asked me to sub for her while she was out of town I accepted. How hard could it be. Last time I saw her class there were only 2 kids. I am a teacher by trade, send me the lesson plan and I’ll be good to go. If all else failed I figured we could just color.
I am a little nervous. I am used to much older and much younger kids, but I read my lesson in advance and it seemed easy enough. I got there early to lay things out and ask last minute directions…….and then the boys start trickling in. I should have known when they started jumping OFF the tables that it was going to be a long morning. A cute little girl walked in who was obviously unimpressed with these boys. She sat herself as far away as possible and crossed her arms tightly. 5 kids, I can handle this. Then a large family shows up with 5 more kids. They are new to the church and really want to keep their kids together for the first time. Visitors…..I want to keep them around so of course I offer to take them in. On there behalf, these 5 were shy, eager to please and overall easy, the other 5 were a handful. I mistakenly mentioned that I was a science teacher to one of the un-easy 5 while waiting to start. He got all excited and asked if I knew how to make slime, and if we could. Well…why not. I sent Shaun across the street to buy some. I read them the bible story ( about Jesus washing his disciples feet and serving others) while the new 5 listened quietly on the couch, one girl pouted and 4 boys wrestled under the table. I tried giving them the teacher eye. Completely uneffective. I tried to speak firmly to get them to stop, which they did, temporarily. Very temporarily. Like maybe 30 seconds worth. We got to the question/answer part and I got 3 types of responses: 1. Jesus 2. long rambling ones that didn’t really make sense, but they were sure proud of and 3. blank stares. Thankfully, Shaun came to rescue me with cornstarch. I related the slime to Jesus washing icky feet. For the record slime was a bad idea ( I am sure you saw this coming). White powder was everywhere and I prayed no girls got it on there pretty pink dresses. I know it was a bad idea, but it was actually the only 20 minutes I knew what I was doing. We cleaned up and I tried really really hard to get it all out of the carpet ( just white powder, no permanent damage, but we don’t own the building so I really wanted to be clean). Besides I didn’t want any evidence of my un-traditional Sunday school teaching style.
After a field trip to the bathroom for more clean up the lesson called for game time. Basically you roll a ball to someone in a circle and tell how you can be a helper to someone. I got the same kind of 3 answers as before. Half the group didn’t want to play, while the other half wanted to play crazy wild games with it that I had never heard of like “supersonic silent dodgeball.” I am pretty sure these were not meant to be played indoors, but the silent part did sound appealing. I was praying that they could not hear us in church and tried to conviscate the ball. As soon as I did they found another one. The wrestling increased. I used my firm voice and shot my teacher eye to no avail. Now I just prayed that no one broke a limb while in Sunday School.
Then I moved on to arts and crafts time, surely this would be much calmer. They were supposed to cut out shapes do crayon rubbings over them and write a verse from Phillipians. My easy 5 took this task seriously. 1 did not want to participate. 1 decided to practice his cutting skills before starting 2nd grade ( he told me this) by cutting paper into as small pieces as possible which of course fell all over the floor and I would have to pick up ( did I mention the lesson was on being a helper!) and another drew a pie on a sheet of paper and started shoving it in people’s faces. At some point, part of this paper pie even got eaten. The wresting resumed and I watched the minutes tick by ever so slowly. I felt helpless and completely out of control. Please preacher, end your sermon soon. I managed to get them to sit in a circle and asked if any one had any prayer requests. We prayed for scraped knees, sick grannies and the upcoming 2nd grade. I silently prayed for their parents to arrive quickly …..and thankfully they did. No broken bones, no stiches, I think I got all the powder out of the carpet and now I could go home and write that thank you letter I had been composing in my head for the last 20 minutes.


spaghettipie said…
So that's what I heard during church... :)
You had me completely fooled; the room was totally under control the two times I passed by. :)
Karen said…
Michelle, I taught second, third, fourth, seventh, and eighth grade during my eight years of public school teaching. I have also taught preschool VBS to our church's daycare students for several years. You win the Survivor's Medal--no injuries (including you), no blood, no foul. See you on TWV2.
Katie said…
Michelle . . . I don't know whether to laugh or to buy you cake, cake, and more cake (oh maybe it should be pie). Thanks for subbing, I might have warned you about the "energy" of those boys beforehand. Oops. All in all it sounds normal to me. Come by when I sub in that class and things will look very much the same as you described.

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