Things I’ve Heard Kids Say This Week:
Only old people eat oatmeal.
His braces scratched my finger!
You are pretty without makeup.
Class is over already?!
Wait, where are we starting? (100 times)
Hey, we sound good!
If that were my other teacher I would be getting yelled at right now.
How do you do this?
Is this class crazy Mrs. Vancil?
Do you really like having us here?
The first week of school is always a crazy, exciting (sometimes chaotic) mass of days that seem to fly by and drag on at the same time. The first day was a rush. A rush of energy and a rush as in… a blur. I don’t remember a lot of it. I know I did it. I know I did it intentionally. Everything just happened so quickly and there were so many students. So. Many. Students. The chorus numbers have grown this year, significantly. I remember when I worked at my first middle school thinking that an 8th grade choir of 35 was big. I remember thinking, just last year, that my 6th grade choir of 50 was huge. Silly me. Ya’ll. My smallest choir this year hovers around 60. The biggest is at 73 right now. I have 200 students that I see every-single-day. It’s a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s overwhelming. My skills in classroom management are definitely going to be tested and hopefully sharpened this year.
Monday flew by, Tuesday wasjust as fast. I got home from school on Wednesday with a killer headache that I later realized was from not drinking any fluids all day long. There’s just not much time to run to the water fountain between classes, plus, I’d have to deal with having to pee between classes if I start drinking water and we all know teachers don’t get to pee. Thursday was busy and crowded. I got home and Taylor said Selah had only slept about 40 minutes at nap time and that he had to run to a meeting. Taylor and I never see each other the first week of school. Selah started sniffling like she had a runny nose so I just went ahead and prepared myself. Usually when she has a runny nose, she’s got a cold or she’s teething. Neither are pleasant. Thursday night was rough. There was snot, there was throw up, there were tears. We even pulled out the pacifier. You know it’s serious when…
I stayed up with Selah for as long as I could keep my eyes open. She laid in bed with me until a little after 11 and could apparently only get comfortable enough to sleep with her head on top of my head. Taylor took her around 11 and did some magical Daddy stuff to keep her quiet. All I know is I woke up at 4am to her crying and Taylor in the bed next to me mumbling/whimpering about how tired he feels. I’m not saying this to show how wimpy Taylor is… quite the opposite. He kept her quiet from 11pm-4am without me hearing one thing. Taylor would disagree, I’m sure, but I have mommy ears. I could be dead, my child would cry, and I’d hear her. I went in at 4am, snuggled her for a minute and laid her back down. I basically laid in bed from 4:15am-6:30am with my eyes closed trying to go to sleep. When I left the house at 7:20am Friday morning, Selah was still quiet and so wasTaylor.
I got home today, Friday afternoon, tired from the night before and the work I just did, but I feel fulfilled. I feel fulfilled mostly because of the things I heard kids say this week.
“Only old people eat oatmeal.”
I’ve been doing a very Pinterest-y mason jar oatmeal breakfast every morning this week. I put oatmeal in a jar with some other yummies and the next morning, I just grab the jar and walk out the door. It has made mornings much easier for me. So I was standing in the hallway doing my morning duty and a kid says, “What are you eating?” I say, “oatmeal.” He replies with a confused face, “Only old people eat oatmeal.” I laugh and say, “well, sweetheart, compared to you, I am old.” He says, “You don’t look old.” I laugh some more and say thank you and smile. He turns around and walks to home room. These tiny 30 second conversations that I get to have with students who aren’t even in my classroom truly make my day and I always leave them smiling.
“His braces scratched my finger!”
Student: Do you have a bandaid?
Me: No, are you bleeding?
Student: Just a little bit.
Me: How bad? Lemme see.
Student: *Holds up his finger*
Me: What happened?
Student: Well, his braces scratched my finger.
Me: Why was your finger near his mouth?
Me: Right, so, keep your hands to yourself.
Student: Yes ma’am.
“You are pretty without makeup.”
Student: Are you wearing any makeup today?
Me: If I have makeup on, it’s probably leftover mascara. I’m bad about remembering to wash makeup off my face.
Student: Oh wow. Well, you’re pretty without makeup. You don’t need it.
Me (basically in tears): You’re my new favorite.
“Class is over already?!”
This is my favorite sentence to hear. Like, literally music to my ears. I love it so much. Some kid is having so much fun that time FLEW. I kept them engaged and active that they forgot about time. I love it so much. It warms my heart.
“Wait, where are we starting?”
I promise you. I hear this 100x a day. I really don’t think I’m exaggerating. This question is one of my favorites and least favorites. Favorite because that means they are trying to keep up. They WANT to be with you and they are trying. Least favorite because I probably JUST finished saying “okay everybody. Page 3 measure 27! Ready? Go!” I’m a fast mover. My classes are 45 minutes and my pace is breakneck speed most days. It takes kids a couple of weeks to figure it out and once they do, we are flying! We easily learn 10 (at least) songs a year, plus a musical, so I move fast. The first week is a careful balance of showing them my pace and my expectations vs. resisting the desire to leave them in the dust. The tricky thing with Choir (and with any class, really) is if I leave them in the dust too often, they’ll become disinterested and we start to lose our momentum as a group. I’m constantly re-evaluating in my head… “do I need to have more patience and wait for them? Or will I regret stopping and saying it again in 2 weeks when we can ONLY move at a turtle’s pace?”
“Hey, we sound good!”
YEAH YOU DO!! It’s Friday of the first week of school and they are growing in confidence. God bless their little hearts.
“Gosh. If that happened in another teacher’s room, they’d probably be yelling at me right now.
Okay, let me give you the story. I have this cup from Starbucks that I love. It’s got little fabric stickers that you decorate the cup with. It’s so cute. I use it every day and basically just leave it in my room at school so that I always have a water cup. I set it on the corner of the piano so I can grab it really quick during class. A student walked up to the piano to hand me something and clumsily bumped the cup when he handed my the paper (Puberty, man! They grow tall too fast and can’t control their gangly limbs). The cup fell to the floor (it was empty, no worries) and cracked the bottom of the cup. I stared at it for a second and then looked back up at him and there was pure fear in his eyes he immediately started apologizing profusely and bent down to pick it up. “I’m so sorry. Mrs. Vancil, I’m so sorry. I just bumped it. I’m so sorry.” I just felt so bad that he looked so scared. I took the cup out of his hands, put my hand on his shoulder and said “Hey, chill. You didn’t do it on purpose. Yes, I like that cup, but it’s just a cup. It was an accident. You said you were sorry. It’s no big deal.” He looked confused for a second, looked around the room at the other guys looking at him, and then looked relieved. That’s when he said that sentence above… about being yelled out. Now, I highly doubt that any of the teachers I work with would have yelled at him for such a thing, but we have to stop and think. What made him think that an adult would yell at him for an accident? What made him think that a teacher would? Experiences teach us things and his experiences have taught him that it’s a high possibility that a teacher would yell at him for an accident. Teachers, I’m speaking to you now. Can we be slightly more compassionate towards our students? I’m not saying, go soft. I’m not saying become a hippy and let them do whatever they want. I’m saying… have some compassion. They’re going to have a lot of real world experiences very soon in their lives. Yes, they’ll learn that there are consequences for their actions, but occasionally I think it’s just as valuable to teach them about forgiveness and graciousness and mercy. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll grow up to be someone else’s boss and give that person forgiveness for an accident when they need it the most.
“How do you do this?” “Is this class crazy Mrs. Vancil?” “Do you really like having us here?”
I’m lumping all of these in together, because they all received the same answer this week. I love it. Yes, it’s crazy, but I love it. Yes, I love having you here. I think it’s important for students to see adults that love their jobs. I love mine and if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be doing it. I want them to have the same passion about something someday. Yes, this class of 27 7th grade boys is absolutely bonkers, but not because they are bouncing off the walls or not following instructions, but because they are energetic and dying to sing every day when they walk in and are eager to be silly and have fun with me. And yes, absolutely, 100% yes. I LOVE HAVING YOU HERE. Middle schoolers give me life. They drain me and fuel me at the same time. They are so unique and I wish there was a way to convey that to them. Don’t ever be afraid to tell any kids in your life that you love having them there. Don’t waste those opportunities. They need that affirmation.
To sum up. Do what you love. Love what you do. If you don’t love what you do, get out when you can can. Find something you love. Hold onto it. Don’t ever be afraid to show compassion and tell people that you care about them. Everyone deserves to be cared for and given a chance.