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Trouble in the Second Grade
I wasn’t a bad kid. In fact, I like to consider myself the opposite. I was good. I paid attention in class, I didn’t call out, and I did my work (most of the time). But it’s a fact of life that kids are going to get in trouble sometime. It can’t be avoided. When you do get in trouble, hopefully you learn something.
I went to a really small elementary school named Elm Tree Elementary from kindergarten to fourth grade. It had one hallway, with blue concrete walls, unless you count the 20 foot hallway that led back to one room. Every grade had one classroom. The building also had an office, a library/computer lab, a room for the reading specialist, and a gymnacafetartmusicorium (gymnasium, cafeteria, music room, art room, auditorium) that smelled like a mix of food, art supplies, and a little bit of sweat. I would say at any time there were 90 to 100 kids attending the school. The school was so small you could hear the sound of the bus engines and the squeal of the tires from anywhere in the building.
Some of my fondest memories in school are from there. I really liked the atmosphere of the school, and the simplicity, where every teacher not only knows your family, but they knew your parents and all of your siblings. I knew the name of every kid in the school. I could sleep in to 7:30 if I wanted to, because the bus came at 8:05. The cafeteria had only 4 tables, and the lukewarm food was served from a single cart by two food service workers. Since the food was never warm enough (we were the last stop the food truck made), about half the kids would pack a lunch. I remember bringing my lunch, and opening it to that smell the inside of lunchboxes have that’s nearly impossible to describe if you haven’t experienced it.
Rarely did I get in trouble. The first time that I remember getting in trouble was in kindergarten. Our teacher had a number system she used for discipline. Every day, you could earn three numbers. Ones and Twos were warnings, and a Three was a timeout. I only got 3 numbers the entire year. They all came within minutes of each other. My teacher wasn’t happy. I was put in timeout. I got in trouble about once a school year, it seemed.
The granddaddy of all the trouble I ever got in at Elm Tree came in second grade. My teacher had my class journal every day. At some point she decided that every day, two kids would write their journal entries on an overhead, and she would read them to the class. At that age, you aren’t writing anything too personal for everyone to see. Eventually, the day came for me to write on the overhead.
“Today,” the teacher said, “it’s Andrew’s turn to write on the overhead.”
I was an “interesting” kid. At that time I was deciding what I thought of school, and whether or not I liked it. Most the other kids were deciding what they thought of the color green, and whether or not they liked it. I had recently come to my conclusion on this important issue when I received this assignment.
“Hmm,” I thought, not having a clue of the awful choice I was about to make. “I think it would be a great idea to write about how I don’t like school. We should play more games, and have more fun.”
My line of thinking was innocent enough. I wasn’t intending to insult anyone. I frequently got bored during school because, frankly, I was ahead of my entire class. I would catch on to what we were learning about in school a good bit faster than my class would.
So I did it. I took the blue marker and wrote the first sentence: “I don’t like school.” It didn’t end there, either. I kept going. I said I don’t have fun, I’m bored, we should play games, and a whole bunch of things that were unintentionally offensive to my teacher. After I was finished the teacher collected the overhead, or more accurately, the essay.
She placed the overhead sheet on the overhead, and turned on the light. I had made an illustration. If I remember correctly, it had a stick figure standing near a school, possibly unhappily. The school might even have been crossed out, in an X.
She began to read. As she read what I had written out loud, I realized what I’d done. My teacher didn’t like this particular journal entry. She may have even stopped after the first few sentences. I remember some of the points she made.
“I don’t think you all realize how hard teachers try to make school fun,” she shouted, which was true. “Yet you still say it isn’t fun at all! You guys are lucky, because some teachers don’t do any games whatsoever, and we do play games.”
She continued on some more. I felt myself shrinking in my seat. I was embarrassed, even scared, and very quickly learned that it’s a bad, bad idea to tell teachers I think school is boring. Looking back, that was probably the stupidest thing I did in school.
When I think back to all the times I’ve gotten in trouble, I have to chuckle. Most, if not all of them, come from stupid things I’ve done. School really isn’t as bad as it seemed to be back then, I was lucky to have teachers to have teachers as good as the ones I did. To make sure that the same situation doesn’t repeat itself, I’m going to say it clearly: school can be fun.