Playground Posse June 22, 2009Posted by alwaysjan in Teaching.
Tags: Education, Health, Hot Cheetos, Humor, Junk Food, Teaching, The Playground, Third Grade, Yard Duty
As a “highly qualified teacher” it’s only fitting that I’m expected to do Yard Duty for 15 minutes twice a week. (Andy Warhol had the math wrong – It’s 15 minutes of fame 2 times a week for an entire school year!) This job is just too important to be left to amateurs, although my posse includes minimum wage employees.
This year we got to “choose” the days we wanted had to do yard duty along with the times. I signed up to do the “before school” shift, not because I’m an early morning person, but to get it out of the way.
I lucked out and got assigned to the climber and back basketball court. Whew! I managed to dodge the most dreaded of all Yard Duty assignments – Supervising the restrooms. That’s where the real action is. But assignments change each year, so I’m not counting my chickens.
When I’m on yard duty, I’m basically back on Sixth Grade Safety Patrol. Throw in a little Mall Cop and the LAPD’s “to protect and to serve” motto. You get the picture. A lot of school districts hire people just do to Yard Duty aka Playground Supervision, but not my district. This is not a job that just anyone can do.
Case in point. When my husband was in art school, he got a lunchtime job working as a Playground Aide at the local public school. He was fired after two weeks when he kicked a kid in the butt, after the kid spit on him. Unlike my husband, I take pride in my ability to maintain a cool demeanor when spittle is dribbling down my face. A police officer once told me, “I couldn’t do the job that you do – not without my gun.” That’s why us teachers get paid the big bucks.
Monday Morning. “Hey you!” I yell. “It’s Monday. First graders only on the climber!” “But I AM in first grade,” the boy protests. I look him over. This kid is HUGE. Freakishly huge. But several other first graders assure me he is indeed in first grade. Geez Louise. When Tyrano-boy runs across the bridge, the entire structure shudders. I decide to keep an eye on him. “I’m watching you,” I say, just to let him know I’m nobody’s fool.
I spend an inordinate amount of time standing at the bottom of the slide repeating the mantra. “We don’t go UP the slide, we go DOWN it.” I say this so often and to the same kids, that someone suggested we just have a recorded message. Hey, I came up with an even better idea. You know those metal spikes that puncture your tires when you drive the wrong way?
I also do a lot of conflict resolution which usually culminates with rock, paper, scissors or an insincere, “I’m sorry.” Every day it’s the same kids who get in trouble. Hmmm, I wonder.
And there’s always a small group of junkies students who huddle under the climber snarfing Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. NPR did a great segment called Kids Love Hot Cheetos But Schools Hate Them. We teachers know the signs. Red encrusted lips and the insatiable need to drink water.
At my old school, I was on Yard Duty on day when I got a report of illicit activity in the girls restroom. I slipped into the girl’s restroom and could hear the telltale rustling of the bag in the last stall. There I found three Latino girls standing on the toilet sharing a Family Size bag of Hot Cheetos. “You are so busted!” I said. I like to use that line of Kevin Spacey’s from American Beauty. In fact, I like it so much, I actually look for opportunities to use it.
Wednesday Morning. “Hey you!” I yell. “It’s Wednesday. Third graders only on the climber!” Since I teach third grade, I can easily sort these kids out. Third graders have typically graduated from Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to cell phones.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with kids having cell phones, as long as they keep them in their backpacks. But kids seem to have this need to show their phone to friends. They Show and someone Tells. That’s when I step in. “Oh, you are so busted!” I announce, as I confiscate the phone. What they don’t know, is that when I walk away, I can’t help but smile. Hey, I’m nobody’s fool.