Saturday, February 23, 2013

Jesse ~ A short story

Jen clutched the clipboard and released a nervous sigh. Looking around the halls, smelling the familiar scents, took her right back to her own days in elementary school. All the technological advances and changes in current events didn't change the feeling of school. She stopped in front of the door to classroom 11. With a deep breath she entered and gave a little wave to the teacher to let him know that she had arrived. She glanced down at her clipboard and looked at the subjects name: Jesse Anderson. She looked at her watch and recorded the start time on her clipboard.

"Hey, you coming to watch us today," one of the little boys shouted the moment he saw her.

The teacher's aide casually walked over to the young boy and gave Jen a signal. So much for remaining unseen. Her subject had been the first to notice her arrival. Jen moved to the bookcase in the middle of the room and did her best to keep her eyes on the kindergartner without letting him know that she was watching only him. She made a mark on the chart indicating that her subject had gotten out of his spot and another mark to indicate that it was to gain attention.

The students were arranged in a group on a large area carpet with an alphabet design. Each child sat on one of the letters. It helped them maintain their own space and not crowd the other students. Her subject managed to stay in his spot the rest of the time at carpet.

The teacher directed the students back to their group tables. They quickly sat down and chatted until the teacher got their attention to show them their craft project.

"I will give you a bag and a piece of paper. First, I want you to cut out the thumb on the paper. Then, I want you to glue it to the bag." The teacher took a pre-cut "thumb" and showed the students where to affix it to the bag. The teacher's aide passed out the materials while the teacher was giving the instructions. "Please get out your scissors and begin."

Jen stifled giggles as she watched the class using their scissors. Some students had great eye to hand coordination and managed to cut out the shape fairly accurately. One of the young boys, however, kept cutting until his "thumb" was nothing more than a speck.  Jen had to restrain her natural instinct to interfere as she saw her subject, Jesse, cutting the air next to a little girl's braids. She cringed as he got closer and closer, waiting for him to actually cause some damage. He wasn't staying on task, which was one of the behaviors she was looking for, but she couldn't mark it because he had stayed in his chair. She could only record behaviors if he wasn't staying where he was supposed to be. Thankfully, he decided to start cutting his paper instead. Jesse made a jagged mess that didn't resemble anything. The next step was to glue it to his bag.

Jesse opened his supply box and pulled out his glue stick. He tried to pull off the cap. He turned the glue stick around and tried pulling the lid off with his other hand. Jen held her breath trying to keep the laughter at bay. He managed to stay a full five minutes in his seat only because he struggled the whole time to get the cap off of his glue stick.

Jen couldn't handle it any longer and got the aide's attention. The aide walked over to Jen.
"Can I help you?"
"Could you please help him? He can't get his glue open."
The aide walked over to Jesse and had to use some force to remove the cap. She handed the glue back to the kindergartner and walked over to assist another student before making her way back to Jen.
"Why did you have me open that for him? He isn't supposed to be gluing yet."
"He already cut out his thumb. You just can't recognize it."
Both women turned their attention back to the young boy.

Jen couldn't help it, a small giggle escaped. He was coating his white paper bag with the purple glue stick. The teacher intervened and assisted Jesse with the thumb.
"Let's set it right here and let it dry a little while."

The teacher walked to the front of the room with a stack of papers. "Okay class, when you are done with your thumb, you can come and get this paper with your animals on it."

The whole class rushed to the front of the room regardless of whether they were supposed to or not. The kindergartners shoved and pushed. Jesse scolded another student for taking his paper. Jen was amazed at how mean they could be to each other.

The teacher intervened and order was restored for a brief moment. That was until Jesse decided to pretend he was an airplane that needed to crash land into the little girl next to him. In the moments of chaos that this caused, Jen's timer reached 20 minutes. Her observation was over. Time to move to the next classroom. She quietly exited with a small wave to the teacher's aide. Jen felt bad for leaving the other adults to handle the mess. She could tell that the teacher's aide wanted to walk out the door right behind her.

Jen went back to her borrowed "office". It used to be a supply closet and was the only space that the school could lend her. She organized her thoughts and jotted some notes on her observation.

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