The Purple Basket is Coming for You

I am rather surprised to report that classroom cleaning has gone too far.

The road to the current situation of over-cleaning began with the problem of too much being left out at the end of the day.  A dense layer of pencils, folders, papers, pencils, a plastic fork from lunch, pencils, a tissue, journals, a math game piece, books, a glue stick, plus a couple of pencils, spread evenly throughout the classroom is a typical scene after the kids have gone.  During dismissal, I send out troops to find 4 things that aren't where they belong and to return them to their rightful places.  The pencil sharpeners go hunting for far-flung pencils.  I steer kids in the direction of the folders they've left on their tables.  This seems to do miraculously little, though, to reduce the number of forgotten items strewn around the room.

Then came the advent of the purple basket.  Into this purple basket I toss everything that hasn't been shelved, foldered, cubbied, trashed, recycled, boxed, or tubbed where it should by the end of dismissal.  During morning meeting, we review the contents of the purple basket and try to beat the clock to hasten it all to a suitable home.

One afternoon, Tyrica asked if she could be on purple basket duty.  Clearly this was a far superior plan than me being on purple basket duty.  A new classroom job was born.

Each day at dismissal, Tyrica's haul has been growing larger.  She rounds up folders, papers, pencils, books, and has been lately prone to basketing items that are still actively in use.  Kids in the middle of putting their homework into their backpack have been finding an empty spot where they just set their folder down.

This afternoon Tyrica cast the net of "abandoned items" a bit too far.  "Sticky notes!" she announced and reached for the yellow pad of sticky notes on the table.  In my hand.  On which I was writing.

"These aren't left out, I'm writing on them!" I exclaimed.

"It looks like you're just holding the marker over the paper, stroking it on there" she observed.

"Yes.  That, in fact, is what I'm doing.  Holding the marker over the paper and 'stroking it on there' is called....writing."

Tyrica moved on to another corner of the room, rustling up her daily basketful.  I think it's time to clarify that this is not a contest for how big a collection she can amass....

If you are in our room at the end of the day and have any supplies you value, watch out for our over-eager cleaner!

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Love is in the air!  And by that, of course, I mean red-wrapped, heart-shaped candy is in the air!

Yes, Valentine's Day Candy Season has begun.  And what better way to enjoy a box of chocolates than while reading America's most hilarious writers on the subject of love, romance, and other complications? 

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Who Wears That?

Today I was called out on not having weather-appropriate shoes by an eight-year-old.  Surprisingly enough, it was not the first time an eight-year-old boy has weighed in on my attire.

This afternoon we were out on the playground, kids frolicking in the light dusting of flakes that had begun falling.  I had just intervened in a playground collision incident between a couple of kids in the other third grade class, which ended with Mykell and Donivan both coming out alright.  Just before she bounded away to play, I noticed that Mykell had some fantastic striped rainbow socks, and complimented them.  The three of us all peered down to behold the footwear, and Donivan exclaimed, "Who wears that in winter??"  Some seasonal faux-pas had left him as incredulous as a reality TV star trashing a cast-mate's outfit.

"Wears what?" I asked, wondering what could be so non-winter about the rainbow socks.

"You!  What you're wearing!  Your shoes!" he said.

I looked down to assess the situation.  On the snow-preparedness scale, I suppose my teachery shoes and dress socks would rate fairly low.  I had dressed my feet for standing and checking geometry work, for sitting and listening to kids read, for walking to and from the copier, for communicating to the world, "This is my job!" 

But Donivan knew what a huge mistake I had made in not dressing my feet for extreme weather.  "This lady is leaving herself susceptible to the elements!" he must have thought.  "If an avalanche occurs, she is guaranteed to get frostbite.  I mean, what if we end up outside for 6 hours in a blizzard?  Those thin socks will just not cut it.  Or what if we encounter a sheet of ice and she can't get any traction?  Winter shoes should communicate to the world, 'I am prepared for survival!' "

Donivan dashed off, with the super-sonic speed, ultra-grip traction, and cozy warmth of someone making better choices with their life.  I wandered over to see which of the perpetual "No, I'm not out!" debates I could help settle at the Four Square game. 

On the way, I passed a kid who had stripped down to a long-sleeved shirt.  "Get your coat on!  It's too cold out for you to be wearing that!"  I told him. 
I mean, who wears that in winter?

Keep It on the Down Low

The news would have caused a wide-spread hysteria that I just wasn't up for.

The news, that is, of what was hanging out at the bottom of the recycling bin.  (You know this is not going to be pretty--stories of trash cans and other trash-adjacent receptacles rarely end well.  OK wait--I seem to have amassed a fair number of trash stories over the years....)

We begin at the top of the recycling bin, however, where I spotted a couple of decidedly non-recyclable items.  "You know what does not belong in the bin, children?  Used tissues!"  Annoyed by this persistent problem, I hauled the blue paper recycling bin out into the hall to dump out the offending Kleenex. 

And there, in the hallway, I discovered what REALLY does not belong in the recycling bin.  A dead rat.

Did you just throw down your laptop for fear the germs / black plague would leap from the rat to the computer via the telling of this story, and then from there onto your skin?  'Cause I almost did just now.  Bleh!  Bleh!  Bleh!

I dropped the bin and froze.  I looked up at Layla who had been out in the hallway to throw something away.  She had seen it too.  We wrinkled up our faces and said to each other, Bleh!  Bleh!  Bleh!  I pictured twenty-seven different diseases, taking the form of wavy blue and purple lines, emanating from the [it's just so gross, I can't say it again].  Mustering all of my most grown-up fortitude, I summoned some composure and pushed the bin off to the side of the hallway. 

I then set about the task of convincing Layla, my co-witness of a week's worth of disgustingness, of the need for discretion.

Yes, we would need to keep this on the Down Low in order to avoid mass hysteria the minute we stepped back in the classroom.  Third graders, however, are not versed in the art of discretion.

Their preferred voice level for dispersal of information is ridiculously loud.  Their preferred audience for dispersal of information is everyone within earshot of my ridiculously loud voice.

Ms. Sarah attempts to surreptitiously kill a spider crawling up the wall while everyone is working at literacy centers? "I am going to be the first to tell everyone this!"  "I am going to be the loudest to tell everyone this!"

It starts to snow (which it happened to do today) during writing?  "I am going to be the first to tell everyone this!"  "I am going to be the loudest to tell everyone this!"

"Look."  I told Layla.  "Think about what would happen if everyone heard about what we saw at the bottom of that recycling bin.  They'd freak out, right?  And we wouldn't learn anything, and it would be a disaster, no?  So what we're going to do, Layla, is we're going to go right back in there, and just say nothing about this.  Can we do that?"  Layla nodded.

And that's just what we did.  We kept that dead li'l rat to ourselves.  And after lunch when I reminded everyone about cleaning up their crumbs so as to avoid any unwelcome creatures, Layla and I exchanged a knowing look.


We are NOT Joking Around, Here

This summer I have been getting lots of advice on the impending baby situation that will be happening this fall.   Highlights of this advi...