Tear Here

Lunch items of various descriptions have been particularly hard to open this week--Thermos caps that won't unscrew, juice pouch straws that won't poke, fruit snack pouches that won't "tear here." Often, students do not even attempt to infiltrate these impossibly secure lunch containers before seeking my assistance. The task usually requires either fingernails or brute strength. Fortunately, I possess both and thus children in my class do not starve.
  After making a valiant but ultimately failed attempt to open his own ketchup one day, Julius commented, “It should say, ‘Tear and get frustrated here!’” I try to give on-the-spot instructional demonstrations on exactly how students can free that fruit roll from its silver wrapper without me, but it is much, much faster if I just use my fingernails to perform the special little rip. Then we can all get back to our food with a minimum of frustration.
  Unfortunately, frustration is not so easily minimized when it comes to academics. Just when students are starting to think they have a pretty good grasp on the world, some completely new and different piece of knowledge is forced into their realm of consciousness and throws everything off. They’re rolling right along, getting the hang of adding and subtracting numbers, even multiplying and then all of a sudden a seven gets replaced by a slanty n. “When did letters become math?” moaned Ayeisha, head in her hands, the day we started algebra. Yes, you’re right, letters can now be math and “sh” can now be spelled with “ti.” Welcome to second grade—it’s frustrating.

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