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An Apple A Day Keeps The Children At Play

, , , , | Learning | June 10, 2022

I’m a middle school teacher in an area where about half of the students come from socio-economically challenged families.

One of my coworkers moved into his parents’ house when they became too elderly to care for it. He had no interest in the massive amounts of apples that he could enjoy every fall from his mom’s orchard. So, every morning, he picked two bags full of apples and put the bags next to the door in the teachers’ lounge. The students were welcome to get free apples as long as the core ended up in a trash can. If a single apple core was thrown in the wrong place, there would be no more apples. Not a single core ever ended up outside a trash can since no one wanted to be the reason for ending the apple bonanza. 

As the final two classes of the day began, most teachers brought with them a supply of apples and handed them out to the students to munch on in class.

Some days, we still had plenty of apples left at the end of the day, and my coworker then convinced some student we knew came from a struggling home to bring home the leftover apples. Almost every time, the students dropped by the next day and told us in great detail how their moms had used the apples for all sorts of goodies.

When the students in more well-to-do families told their parents of our apple bonanza, several parents brought in bags of apples from their own gardens. That was incredibly sweet, but we struggled a little with getting through up to eight huge bags of apples per day.

We noticed that during the weeks when the students got these free apple snacks, in the afternoon, they were a lot more alert and active in these last classes of the day. It was almost like they were somehow energized.

Maybe More Kids Would Enjoy Math With More Teachers Like This

, , , , , , | Learning | June 3, 2022

As a little kid, I was such a geek that I actually enjoyed math, and since my parents were often doing math with my older sister, I picked up some things by listening in on them. One of those things I learned ahead of my class was the impressive feat of adding a whole three numbers at once!

But when it came time for the class to learn the same thing, they didn’t add the numbers right — at least that’s what young me thought. Our teacher taught us to add all numbers in the ones column, then the tens, etc. By contrast, I’d always added the numbers by adding the first two and then writing the third number under the sum of the first two and adding those. The way I had learned seemed less error-prone. I mean, adding three whole numbers in your head at once — who could possibly manage such a feat?! So, I chose to ignore the way our teacher was teaching it and keep doing things the way my father had taught me.

Then, one day, the teacher had multiple problems written on the board and she called four or five students up to solve their problems at the same time in front of the class. I was on the far end, away from the teacher, but I was worried that she would catch me doing things the “wrong” way, so I did things my way, put the answer, and then hastily erased my work so she wouldn’t see how I did things.

She wasn’t having any of that. When she got to me she agreed that the answer was right but insisted that I needed to show my work. So now, I got extra attention as she made me redo my work in front of the class with her watching me as I did my math “wrong”.

I was honestly expecting a scolding for not doing things the way she had taught us. Instead, she acted surprised and asked me to explain my “complex” logic for how I was doing the work to the class. She told me that was a good way of doing things and actually said she was fine with kids doing math however they wanted if they got the right results.

Come our next math test, we were asked to add numbers the way she had taught us, but the very next question asked us to add the same numbers “[My Name]’s way.” She continued to encourage kids to learn both ways, and I was proud to have a whole way of doing math named after me!

It’s only later as an adult that I can fully appreciate how refreshing it was to have a teacher willing to encourage kids to solve problems their own way rather than insisting we all stick to the officially taught way of doing things. Thanks for being flexible, Ms. [Teacher].

And Man, Was His Face Rouge

, , , , | Learning | May 31, 2022

In French class in junior school, when we were all aged ten or eleven, the teacher went around the class holding up two pens, one red and one blue, asking us to name the colours in French.

Everyone got it right except for one boy. Eventually, the teacher told him to answer in English, and he still got it wrong.

That’s how, thanks to a French class, an eleven-year-old discovered he was colour-blind!

Everyone Needs A Healthy Beating Now And Then

, , , , , | Learning | May 22, 2022

My acquaintance’s daughter had problems with congestion in her lungs, so her mom would have her lay across her lap and she would rhythmically hit her daughter on the back — not hard enough to hurt her — to break up the congestion.

Her daughter was about six at the time. She went to school and said her mom beats her. As you can imagine, this did not go over well with the school.

They called my acquaintance in, and she had to explain what her daughter meant.

This Kid K-needs A K-nurse!

, , , , , , , , | Learning | May 19, 2022

This happened when I was eleven years old, in year seven at secondary school. I was running late one morning, due to my younger brother throwing a strop over not wanting to go to school. As a result, I was riding my bike as fast as I could down the pavement on the street my school was on. Until, that is, I saw a fire officer’s car coming the other way. Being a pre-teen obsessed with shiny things — which a red and reflective yellow livery most definitely was — I lifted a hand to wave to the car’s occupant.

And I promptly fell off my bike. 

To his credit, the fire officer immediately stopped his car and came over to check on me. I was mostly unhurt, apart from a few grazes and an impressively skinned knee where I’d slid along a few feet. I remember being more worried about my brand new tights — completely shredded — than the multiple places I was bleeding from.

The fire officer got me loaded into the front seat of his car and my bike into the back, and he turned round to take me the rest of the way to school. He carried me to the visitor’s reception and plonked me down into one of the chairs there.

He asked the receptionist to call the nurse up from her office to come take care of me. The receptionist was unwilling to do so. I don’t remember the full conversation, as it’s been quite a few years since then, but the receptionist was arguing that the school, and therefore the school nurse, was not responsible for dealing with anything that happened off of school grounds, even if it happened on the way to school and practically within sight of the gates.

An offer was made to have an older student, a sixth-former who’d made the mistake of wandering into sight at the wrong time, escort the fire officer and me down to the nurse’s office. The receptionist dismissed the possibility that the nurse should be the one coming to a student with an injured leg. I was just faking it, by her estimation.

The sixth-former wasn’t stupid, though, and ran off during the argument — straight to the nurse’s office. He did what the receptionist wasn’t willing to do and told the nurse that she was needed in the visitor’s reception. A few minutes later, she arrived, and she promptly tore a strip off the receptionist while simultaneously reassuring me and getting all the bleeding bits bandaged up.

The fire officer left once he knew I was being taken care of, leaving my bike in the care of the groundskeepers, whose office was next to the bike sheds. The nurse had the helpful sixth-former carry me round to the student reception and pastoral care area — through the staff corridor, which was a big treat at that age — so my parents could be called to come collect me and take me for a checkup and proper wound clean at hospital.

My leg was fine, but the experience left me with a nice scar on my knee. And a few days later, some of the little jerks I went to school with decided to shove me along a pebble-dashed wall so that my other knee was also ripped up.