By: Adam Sutton
“Good morning class! Have a seat on the carpet. Criss-cross applesauce.” Mr. Ferguson belted out. “I like how everyone is listening so well this morning.” A blur in the corner of his eye catches his attention.
“Who is that hiding under my table?” Mr. Ferguson asks to the little person hidden beneath the table. “Why don’t you come out from there for story time?” He was using his most soothing, patient voice. His voice was so reassuring the little fella turned his back to Mr. Ferguson.
After a few minutes of trying to coax Aaron from under the table, the rest of the class was growing restless. “We are going to read Green Eggs and Ham! You can come over whenever you are ready.”
“All right everyone! Find your spot on the carpet. Try to spread out a bit. We are going to work on relaxing today.” The students scurry from their little chairs to their assigned seat on the carpet. Smiles bound across the room. Students pinball into each other, but no one is bothered. After a few moments, Mr. Ferguson continues, “Great job everyone! I’m really excited to try this with all of you.”
Lili’s hand bolts into the air. “Mr. Ferguson,” she points out, “we aren’t all here.” She points her little finger towards the door. Aaron is jumping on the chair Mr. Ferguson sits in every afternoon when he says goodbye to the kids as they leave for the day.
“Why can Aaron do whatever he wants?” Jordan asks matter of factly.
“Ok, everyone. Refocus,” Mr. Ferguson is trying to head off the train wreck heading his way.
“Yea. He never has to follow the rules,” Marlo declares.
“Aaron has expectations and needs that have to be met a little differently, and if we all start doing this fun, relaxing activity today, I bet he comes over to join us.” Mr. Ferguson breathes a deep sigh of relief as his small pupils seem satisfied with his answer. “I want everyone to lay on your backs. Fold your hands on your tummies.” He scans the room. Twenty-five 1st graders lay silently. The 26th member of the class is taking all the books off the bookshelf. Mr. Ferguson wants to stop him, but he knows that if he does, the 25 will take forever to refocus. He ignores Aaron. He turns back to the class. “Ok. Good. Good. I want you to take 3 deep breaths.”
A collective “whoooo” echoes across the classroom followed by a loud and forceful, “whoooosh!” Aaron’s head turns. Mr. Ferguson is busily trying to setup the ocean waves music he downloaded last night for just this moment.
“Aaron!” Mr. Ferguson wheels around to see Lili bolting upright. “Why did you do that?” she demands of Aaron before turning to Mr. Ferguson and complaining, “He stuck his finger in my ear! He always does that!” She was starting to cry. Mr. Ferguson moves closer to her, trying to comfort her. Everyone is now sitting up or on their feet. Aaron is under Mr. Ferguson’s desk.
“Mr. Ferguson, I was in your classroom yesterday to observe a little bit. I want to run through the things I observed while I was there. During circle time, there were at least 3 students up and about the classroom at all times. The most students up and about the room at any one time was 5. All of these actions were distracting in varying degrees. Aaron never sat with the group. I observed every child at some point or another directing their attention away from you as you were reading. Do my observations match with your recollection of class?”
“Yea. Yea, that sounds about right actually.”
“Ok, I think you need to work on management a bit. The students need to respect you and one another. I think you need to get them all seated on the carpet for circle time before you start any activity. Can that be something to work on?” Mr. Wolff asks, looking over the top of his computer screen.
“I can work on it, but I’ll never read a story or teach anything,” mutters Mr. Ferguson, exhausted.
“Well, I think you would teach more if you did this simple thing. Think back to the first day. I bet everyone was on that carpet excited and ready to learn, right?”
“Mr. Wolff, have you met Aaron? Every child has never been actively engaged in my classroom this year. It is not possible.”
“I’m sorry to hear you say that, but I can’t have that attitude either. You just need to work a little harder. We need to build those relationships with all our children. We have to do what’s best for those kids at all costs. I need your best effort, Mr. Ferguson.”
“This is my best effort,” Mr. Ferguson sinks into his chair, eyes cast to the floor.