Friday, December 09, 2005

go ahead, make fun of me

At least ten times a day a kid will say to me, "Mr. Bowers, he called me dumb" (or short or fat or get the idea). I always ask the kid, "Well, are you?" If they say "yes" then I tell them to tell the other kid, "thank you". If they say, "No, I am not", then I tell them to tell the other kid, "No I'm not!" The kid usually goes and tell them. Sometimes I tell the kids that if someone calls you name, you can always agree with them and try to defuse the situation. For instance...

JOHNNY: You're fat!
BILLY: I know, I weigh so much! It's awesome!

or like this...

JOHNNY: You're ugly!
BILLY: Iknow, I wish I were handsome--like you! :-)

or this instant classic...

JOHNNY: You're dumb!
BILLY: I know, sometimes, I can't even spell my own name!

The point is, I tell the kids, that bullies are looking for someone weak to pick on and someone who they can bother. If you let the bully bother you, then they win. If you know that you are a good person and you treat other people in a nice way, then it doesn't matter what a bully thinks of you, so don't let it bother you.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

end of the world

This kindergartener comes to my class with his thumb all wrapped up in bandages and I ask him what happened. He tells me that he cut OFF his thumb. He was carving a pumpkin--go figure. They were able to take him and the thumb to the emergency room and get it sewed back on and the thumb is fine. Anyway, I asked him what he thought when he saw his thumb lying on the table. He said, " Oh well, end of the world. I have no thumb."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Where ya from?

Boy, my school is getting flooded with kids from New Orleans! (That was probably a bad choice of words). It is November and there are still kids coming in. Every time a new kid comes in from "the Big Easy" I introduce them to the other kids who are from there too. It is so cool watching them make friends with each other and with the Texas kids as well. Some have lost relatives and been through so much, it breaks my heart.

Whenever we get a new kid I go through the "Welcome to Texas" routine. First, I teach them how to give a good Texas handshake. I tell them, "When you meet someone new, you should give them a good Texas handshake to show them that you mean business." Next, I see if they can say, "Howdy" and I tell them (in my best Texas accent) that we all talk like this and if you want to make friends, you have to talk like this too. Then I tell them that its nice moving to a new school because it gives you a chance to start over. It gives you a chance to make new friends and be a better student. I also tell them that the first friend they need to make is with their new teacher. Finally, I say, "Be yourself, smile and pay attention and the friends will come to you."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

You are a puppy.

Yesterday I saw a kid sitting in the hallway outside his classroom pouting because he was in trouble. I have known this kid since he was in kinder. He has a big sister who I also taught. I have met his dad several times and even called his dad when the kid was in first grade because the kid had been acting so wild in my class. As I wasked by, I suddenly felt a speech coming on:

Hey buddy, you in trouble? (yes) Hey, have you ever had a puppy? (yes) Did he used to poop on the carpet? (yeah) What did you do? (I had to put him on a leash and take him outside.) Did he chew up everything in the house? (yeah) Did you teach him to only chew on his chew toys? (yeah) Is he a big dog now? (yeah) If your puppy didn't learn to go outside to use the restroom and stop chewing everything up, would you have wanted to keep him when he became a big dog? (no) Well, right now, you are your dad's little puppy, and when you misbehave at school, you are just like that puppy, poopin' on the rug and chewing everything up. Your dad wants you to learn to be a big dog and behave at school. Someday you will be on your own and you are gonna have to look after yourself and find a job. Is anyone gonna hire a person who poops on the rug and chews everything up? ([giggle] no) Thank you, have a nice day.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Not on my new carpet!!!

Yesterday, the kinder class had just left, and I noticed a dark spot on my new carpet. AAAAGGGGHHHH!!! I just got that carpet because the old one had been used as a restroom so many times in the past. I hate that! I must teach a fun class if the kids would rather wet themselves than leave the room. It reminded me of the first time a kid had an accident in my room. The kid was a kinder, and he was real embarrased about his accident. I comforted him the best I could. On the inside, I was so mad, but I didn't let him know that, of course. I was so worried that this was gonna be one of those traumatic events that would ruin his life. His spot was cleaned, but if you turned the carpet over, you could still see it. Well, the kid stayed at my school all the way through 4th grade, so at the end of his last year, I showed him the spot and told him that was where he went to the bathroom when he was in kinder. He didn't even remember doing it. So much for the trauma in Drama.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Drama Club

Every year I have a Drama Club at my school. We meet after school and basicly work together to put on a production. All you have to do to get into Drama Club is turn in a form. I ususlly get around 200 forms and pick 20 names out of a hat. This gives me a group of about 5 kids that want to work and 15 who want to goof around and a act crazy. Usually, it is the parent who signs the kids up for Drama Club. Most of the kids who are in the club don't realize the amount of work it takes to put on a play. You know, hard work like standing still and speaking loud--tough stuff like that. Hey, for some kids, standing still is almost an impossibility.

Anyway, this year, I decided to audition the kids for the club. I gave all of the 3rd and 4th graders a sheet of paper with 9 girls monologues and 9 boys monologues. They were told that if they wanted to be in Drama Club, they would have to memorize one of the monologues. I never officially told the parents of the audition. A few of them would ask about Drama Club and I would tell them the deal. A couple of times times a parent would come up to me and say that their child had lost their monologue sheet and request another one. I would tell the parent that part of being in the club is responsibility. If they lost their sheet, they could borrow one from one of their classmates--they all received one. The best thing about the whole audition was that out of 250 3rd and 4th graders, I now have 15 kids who all have memorized a monologue and that I can count on.

The kids who auditioned were fantastic. I was able to work with them on finding the right emotion or feeling and get them to do the monologue again and see the improvement right away. It really was like molding a piece of clay--or play dough.

Monday, October 24, 2005

buckin' broncos.

I had a rare treat today. I actually got to smile with the class that never makes me smile. It's crazy, but no matter how hard I try, I can never seem to be myself with some of my classes. Some groups of youngins get me so furious in the hall as they walk up to my room, that I am a real bear of a teacher. I know it's not the whole class' fault, but It's hard to narrow it down to one kid, and you hate to make a scape goat outta anybody.
Well, today I get this class coming to me, and they are usually a handfull. These guys are 2nd graders and they like to tattle, argue, cut in line, hit, push and shove each other all day long. You get the idea. Now, for some reason, today was different. First, they were really nice walking down the hall, no problems. I started to praise them right away--they love that. I kept easin' em into the room nice and slow, continuing to point out kids, individually, who were trying real hard to use their *self control. After I got 'em settled down and in their seats we had a real nice lesson and I was able to teach them something besides discipline. They were all smiling at the end of class and so was I.

*One time, I had been talking to this kids' class about self control. After school, as I was walking to my car, one of the after school program teachers offered me a slice of pizza. Of course I accepted. As I was getting a slice, I hear this kid say, "Mr. Bowers, self control." I told him thanks and gave him the thumbs up signal and left the pizza alone. In the car on the way home, i really regretted teaching them self control.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A New Generation of Houston Fans

As I sat watching Albert Pujols's ball crack the window of Minute Maid Ballpark, I tried to find a silver lining. I know the series isn't over yet, and who knows how it will end, but I found something good about it. All the kids at school are learning the pain that is necessary to be a Houston Sports fan. I tell them that if you are gonna be a Houston Sports fan, you have to give up on your team for them to succeed. You have to think that there is no chance for them to win before they do. (I think that the Texans have no chance of beating the Colts this Sunday. We'll see what happens.) Maybe the 'stros will pull this out. If they do, there is no chance of them beating the White Sox. It is only fitting that the day of the game was the 45th anniversary of Houston being awarded a franchise (a ceremony that took place in a hotel room in Chicago--where this year's world series will be partly played. The team was the Colt 45's. We lost 4 to 5. The losing pitcher was wearing number 54. aaaaaagggghhhhh!!!! That's the kind of things that the Houston fan has to do, find a way to deal with the insanity.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I want to be bothered!

Yesterday I had a 1st grader who kept bothering the kids around him and disrupting the lesson. I asked him to stop several times. Finally, I asked the class, "Is there anyone in here who wants to be bothered? I need someone who will sit next to this guy so that he can bother them and we can go on with the lesson. Is there anyone?" I had it all planned out. No one would answer, and the botherer would realize that no one likes to be bothered. Well, the sweetest, little girl in the class raised her hand and said, "I will sit next to him." "You don't mind if he bothers you?" I asked. She said, "No." Now, I know this little girl and have taught both of her older brothers and one of her older sisters, so I kinda figured she could handle anything that the other boy had to dish out. I let her sit next to him and went on with the lesson. The boy poked her shoe. She did nothing. He poked her shoe again. She did nothing. After that, he settled down and didn't disrupt the lesson again and at the end of class I complimented him and told the little girl, "Thank you, you made my day." She just smiled and scurried on down the hall. This is the kinda thing that makes teaching fun for me.

Friday, September 30, 2005

the Golden Rule

Of all the things I teach (I am supposed to be teaching Drama) I stress the Golden Rule more than anything. It is so hard to get the kids to completely understand the Rule. Treat other people the way you want to be treated. I tell them to imagine that every other person on the planet is YOU. Everyone. Your mom is you. Your dad is you. Your teacher is you. All of your classmates are different versions of you. Think about how the world would be. Would there be any crime? Would people share with each other? Would there be any violence? Then I tell them the old shakespeare. If you prick my finger what will come out? Everyone is different, but there is the one thing that is constant. Everyone feels pain and can be hurt. DON'T HURT OTHER PEOPLE!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Whenever two kids are trying to fight each other at school, I sometimes tell them, "Look, if you really want to fight this kid, why don't you invite him and his family over to your house. Then you and he can fight each other in the yard while your families watch and cheer you on." This usually gets them to start thinking about why they are fighting. I tell them that school is my job, and that there is no fighting allowed where I work. I also tell them something that Will Smith's grandmother told him and that I heard him recall in an interview. She said, "Will, truly intelegent people don't fight with their fists, they fight with their words."

Sometimes a kid will say, "Mr. Bowers, my mom told me that if someone hits me, I should hit them back. I ask them if they would bite a dog if he bit them first. Then I explain that their parents don't want them to be bullied around, but they want them to be smart. I tell them, "I think your parents mean that if you are being attacked, then you might have to fight back to protect yourself. When you get hit you have a choice. You can hit back, or ask the person why they are hitting you and try to figure out the problem. Hitting doesn't solve anything.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

teeth and crying

Every time a kid tells me that he lost a tooth, I tell them to retrace their steps. This really confuses them. Sometimes, I will get the whole class to start looking on the ground real quick. The kid will usually start yelling, "No, no that's not what I meant!" I love it!
One time a kindergarten girl from Columbia told me, "Mr. Bowers, my tooth fell off."
I always argue with the kids about the price of teeth. When I was a kid the tooth fairy would usually give me a quarter. Nowadays, the kids sometimes get up to TWENTY DOLLARS! That is crazy! I tell the kids to leave the tooth fairy a note telling him that the price has gone up and that if he wants to buy a tooth, that it will cost him one hundred dollars! I haven't heard from any parents about this yet, but I bet I will soon.
Yesterday a class was walking down the hall and one of the kids was crying. I pretended not to see him and I stopped and told the kids to listen as I looked up at the ceiling. They all got real quiet and listened. All you could hear was the boy crying. As I looked at the ceiling I said, "Shhh, listen, someone's crying up there." The kid who was crying bust out laughing and yelled out, "It's me Mr. Bowers!" Turns out he just had a toothache.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Monday's are great!

One of the strange things about being a teacher is that the days of the week are kinda reversed. On Monday, the kids are real tired and so they sit real still and don't talk much. As for me, I am well rested and my tolerance is at a high. By the time Friday rolls around, the kids are climbing the walls and I have no tolerance.

Well, this past Friday, I told the kids when they walked into the room that my fuse was about "this long" and made the little thumb and forefinger signal for short. Well, the kids behaved really well, and we had a good time. As the kids were walking out, one kid says, "Mr. Bowers, your fuse looks longer now".

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Mr. Bowers took my snack!

I teach Elementary School Drama and there are so many strange things that happen at my job. One time as the kindergarteners were leaving my room, I was giving them high fives. After all of the kids had left, I looked at my hand, and there was a nice rolled up booger stuck on the side of my finger. I then realized that some kid was gonna have to deal with the fact that Mr. Bowers had taken his snack.