Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Beautiful First Grade Minds

as witnessed by the tired and frayed synapses of a 50 year old mind.
What a joy (and challenge) these children are. As a substitute fill-in who has only dipped his toe into these chaotic enthusiastic waters, I have nothing but respect and admiration for all teachers of our young.

First thing Monday was introductions. I told the little Chargers that my name is Mr. Carlson. I told them they could call me that, or they could call me Mr. Carlson-nuffaluffagus, Snuffy, or just plain 'ol "Mr. C".

This introduction sufficed when used with the third graders the previous week. For some reason, these weren't enough choices for first graders. Someone shouted out, "Can I call you Kermit?" (as I had delivered a very bad Kermit the frog impression as they entered the classroom.

"Sure," I answered.

Another student asked me who my favorite football team was. I was used to being asked questions seemingly off topic from third graders, so I told him it was the Detroit Lions.

Satisfied, he then told me he would call me "Mr. Lion". (and he did, without exception for the next two days).

The other children started shouting out their own recommended sub names simultaneously (made-up concoctions of unknown origins, other than from their fertile minds), so I told them, "you can call me anything you want, just don't call me late for dinner."

I knew when I told this joke that it would fly right over their little heads and that all I would get would be crickets. I was wrong. They laughed and giggled uproariously! Then it occurred to me that they didn't really care about the underlying humor of my statement - rather, just that I told them not to call me something nonsensical. In other words, I believe I would have received a similar response had I asked them not to call me... "Lord Chancellor of Neverland".

What I didn't count on was that half the class would address me as "Mr. Late For Dinner" for two straight days.


  1. I treat kids in the ER and they are often easier and more fun to deal with than their parents.

  2. Hey Jerry! It is Chris Clark (Barber). I worked with you at the Journal. I happened to stumble accross your interesting story and wanted to lend a few subbing tips, as until last month I had been earning my keep by challenging young minds. One sure way for a sub to get the attention of his or her group is to begin to talk with any accent! I was once with a group of chattering 4th graders and I just broke out in a heavy southern accent and told then," O' my...I do are hurting my pretty little ear drums with the amount of noise ya'll are projecting." Silence hit the room and I was asked to keep talking. So I did a complete Scinece lesson with my new southern accent.

  3. Chuck, you've had to see just about everything come through.

    Chris, Hi, I remember you! Thanks for the tips. I try everything and this sounds like fun. I am able to wiggle my ears (hands free of course) quack like a duck, assortment of cartoon voices and other silly human tricks they seem fascinated by :) the only problem with a little fun is that they don't have an off switch and Mr. Late For Dinner has to turn off the lights, clap 3 times and use his angry voice :(

  4. Understand! I then try positive reinforcements. I was at a classroom for a week or so and gave out tickets for great behaviors etc. At the end of the week they could use the tickets to buy cookies..which I made...or mechanical pencils..which are the bomb...or a lunch with the teacher pass.