What do you get when you take four Days of High Stakes Testing, add in a bunch of 11, 12 and 13 year olds, plus a very unusual Earthquake, lots of sugar, and the first really nice, sunny day for months?
Friday morning at breakfast with Mrs. Eagle we discussed tossing our lesson plans out the window. First off, we wanted to discuss the morning's earthquake with the kids because they'll be learning about them next year and it never hurt to give them a leg up. Besides, it could lead to a great class discussion and I could toss in some of my experiences growing up in Los Angeles. It's my belief that we don't talk enough about earthquakes and earthquake prepardness here in The South, and we've got the New Madrid Fault just a few hours away.
Secondly, we took one look at the weather report and decided to take the kids outside. They did great keeping quiet and still during our Very Big Deal State Mandated Tests, which is a lot to ask of a 7th grader. Heck, it's a lot to ask of anyone, quite frankly. These kids are used to getting up and moving every 45 minutes when classes change (more often in my room as I tend to have them move around a bit), and this week they pretty much had to stay quiet and still from 7:30 to 10:00 am. Mrs. Eagle and I are both huge believers that middle schoolers need to be outside more and need to blow off some steam. We decided to take advantage of the good weather and take them outside.
This worked great for three periods. Our two classes combined, played frisbee, tossed around some footballs, kicked a soccer ball, and drew with colored chalk all over the road. (I may add that we don't really have a playground or anything to put the kids on - we take them outside of Mrs. Eagles room which consists of some grassy areas, but mainly parking lot and a driveway going around the school to another parking lot area.) It was great. The kids loved it, we loved it, it was wonderful.
Until some morons in fourth period decided to have a fight. Mrs. Eagle and I spotted it starting and ran over and broke it up fairly quickly. It was between two of her kids, and four of mine helped break it up by pulling the boys off of each other. She marched them off to the office, while I marched all of the rest into her room and made them cool their jets and write witness statements if they saw anything. Great.
Fifth period rolls around and we decide to take them out again because they shouldn't pay a penalty because fourth period had some idiots in it. No problem with this group (of course, I think we both scared the hell out of them regarding behavior requirements before we left the classroom). Later Mrs. Eagle and I both had to talk with Mrs. Squirrel who was working the referrals as the two boys who were tangling said that when my kids pulled them apart they started beating them up - something, quite honestly, neither of us saw.
What bothered Mrs. Squirrel, Mrs. Eagle, and myself was that we all firmly believe that these kids need to get outside, need to blow off steam, need to breathe fresh air, run across grass, and stare at clouds if that's what floats their boat. However, these kids may have ruined it for everyone due to their behavior. I certainly hope not.
In the meantime, The School had a huge reward for all the students who were on time and present for every day of testing. They had a choice of a concert by a local country artist in the gym, a movie (Alvin and the Chipmunks) in the theater, and concessions in the cafeteria. All teachers were expected to help monitor and keep the kids in line, which meant no planning for the seventh grade. It also meant trying to maintain chaos with over 1000 kids who had been cooped up all week. I'm surprised we didn't have a fight or two in the concession line.
The best part was that we got the kids all hyped up on cotton candy, soft drinks, and other junk food and then put them on the buses to go home. Oh yeah, the other best part was the rumor going through school all morning that the movie was going to be The 300. Yeah, like that's going to happen. Middle Schoolers can be so gulible
The worst part was that the time dragged on and on and on. You can bet that when the last bus rolled down the street, and the last walker had left the building, we were ready to go home.
It was definitely a two-glass of wine night.