Every year, we get a visit from the Mobile Dairy. The Mobile Dairy is a huge trailer with a Dairy Cow on board and a rusty old COWBOY full of information about milk and cows and all of the processes that get the milk from the cow to the table:
COWBOY: Now, boys and girls, why do cows need energy?
At an audition, actors are like paint brushes while the director is like the artist who is selecting which brushes to use. The actors just have to be the best brush they can be and maybe the artist will pick them. If the artist doesn't pick your brush, then it doesn't mean you are a bad brush, it just means the artist is in need of a different brush for this painting. You wouldn't want to use a fine brush to paint broad strokes! Therefore, do not be nervous at an audition, just show your skills and hope for the best!
At least five times today, I heard a kid tell another kid that the Texans won the game last night. Poor little fans don't know that you never go to bed on a Houston team. I was sad to tell them the bad news, but was quick to point out that the reason they lost to the Colts was because the Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck IS FROM HOUSTON! He went to Stratford High School, which is on Dairy Ashford, which is only about two miles from our school, which is right down the street from the Dairy Ashford Roller Rink, which is where all of our safety patrol parties are held, which means that they skate on the very same rink that ANDREW LUCK (might have) skated on!!! You may have even worn the same skates as him! Those skates are pretty old!
So, ummm, that means that, umm, you might someday leave Houston and come back into town and beat their football team...or something like that.
There are plenty of bilingual kids at our school, and they say the darnd'est things:
LESLI: Mr. Bowers, there is something of the spider there!
MR. BOWERS: What??
LESLI: There is SOMETHING of the spider there!
MR. BOWERS: Uhh, you mean a WEB?
LESLI: Yes, there is a web of the spider there!
This Wild Child has been out of control since PreK and is now in 1st grade. I decided that it would be best for her to sit in the front of the rug on the purple squares. She shouts out that she wants to sit on THE RED SQUARES--which were on the back! I had a great idea! I got everyone to move off of the rug, turned it around so the red was on the front and asked everyone to sit back down. Wild Child went back to her seat on a RED SQUARE which was now in the front of the room. However, she remained WILD. I'll try again next time.
To show respect to your teacher, you should listen to her like she's the favorite part of your favorite movie. If she calls on one of your classmates to speak, then they are your new favorite part. If someone next to you is talking out of turn, encourage them to also watch and listen to your "favorite part!"
We were discussing self respect and how you have to accept who you are and do your best and how life has its ups and downs and you gotta keep a positive attitude and keep trying...and one of the 2nd grade boys said, "My life rarely has ups." His voice was really heartbreaking.
Wow. We all tried to point out good things in his life, and even talked about another kid on campus who is IN A WHEEL CHAIR!
When I asked him what was the worst part about his life, he couldn't think of anything.
I got a letter from a parent today and it made me feel proud, I wanted to
share. The names have been changed to protect the innocent:
D'brickashaw told me yesterday that he was uncomfortable doing the class
activity and that you helped him through it. He said I felt really good when Mr.
Bowers supported me and complimented me.
I am sure you have had your share of boys/girls who were shy or didn't feel
comfortable acting out things in class but you sure know how to handle it. You
made him feel good and I appreciate you!
Yay! I did it! When I do get a kid who is shy, I don't push it, however, I try to make a deal with them that will get them to try again next time. Also, getting them to act in larger groups in front of an audience helps them get over their fear.
Now, if the kid is just being lazy, I tell them that they don't get to tell the math teacher, "no" when they have to do math work. This is Drama work and it is part of the school day!
Our school used to be nick-named the Indians, but about 15 years ago, we had a contest to change the name to something more politically correct. The contest was put on by our Principal at the time, and thankfully his favorite name won. Our school nick-name is now, "All-Stars." Lately, I've started taking the name to a another level when we get a new kid:
MR. BOWERS: What school did you come from?
NEW STUDENT: ( _____ Elementary)
MR. BOWERS: Oh, yeah, well you must have been the best kid at your school because for some reason, you are now an ALL-STAR. We take all the best kids from every school and bring them here to be ALL-STARS. Were you the best kid at your school?
NEW STUDENT: Yes.
MR. BOWERS: I knew it! Well, welcome to our school, you are now an All-Star!"
At the beginning of the year, I like to introduce Drama to children by talking about how Cavemen might have "acted out the hunt" around the fire for the people who stayed home. That must have been the origin of Drama. I let them group up and get them to show, "how they caught the dinosaur!"
This year, a group of 4th grade girls acted out that they were cooking up some roast beef in hopes that the smell would lure the dinosaur out of the jungle.
If dinosaur meat tastes better than roast beef, I really need a time machine!
So, the very first rule at our school is Show Respect. The first week of school, I am teaching this concept to all of the children. My discussion begins something like this:
"This is a pocket dictionary. What do you think it says as the definition of respect?" (All kinds of answers are given and all are validated). I then read the definition which is very simple. To hold in esteem. Then I look up esteem which says--to regard. I finally look up regardwhich basicly says to look apon with favor, or to love. "So, children, our principal wants us to treat the things and people around us with great respect, as if they are our favorite things and people. To respect, or at least act as if you respect everything and everyone around us."
FIRST GRADE GIRL: We have to respect a rock! MR. BOWERS: Well, lets think about that...what if the rock was part of our living garden and was put around a tree for decoration? ANOTHER FIRST GRADER: YEAH! Like it was some ART! THE CLASS: Yeah, we cam respect rocks! FIRST GRADE GIRL: Why do people decorate their trees with rocks??
So, yesterday was the first day back with the children. Nothing too crazy went down. One kid said, "Your hair is new!" I guess I had let it get pretty shaggy last year.
We talked about respect, and one of the Kinder kids said, "When you're not respectful, Jeses gets mad."
Shiva, a 1st grader, said that I could still sing the funny song I made up about his name, but that I could only do it when he came to Drama and "not in public."
Today, I made a 4-year-old's day when I noticed her Little Mermaid lunchbox and immediatly broke into song, "I wanna be where the people are...walking around on those--what's that word--FEEEEETTT!" She was truly amazed!
Another year, another ice cream social. This year's discovery: One of my former students child will be attending my class. It doesn't seem possible, but this is my 18th year at our school. That can't be right, I'm only 11 years old (according to my wife.)
My quiet signal needs to be retired. I know how to use many quiet signals, but when I get frustrated with the noise, I draw my quiet signal out of my holster like a six-shooter. It used to work brilliantly. It used to amaze new students. It could silence a cafet-orium full of noisy children instantly. My quiet signal is dead.
Here it is: I clap out shave and a haircut...you clap out two bits, then give me your attention.
Here, at the end of the school year, they clap. "two bits," then resume talking.
Maybe I'm the one letting them down. I'm not good enough to keep their attention.
However, If I put my lesson on a television, I can keep their attention for as long as I want! I'm gonna have to make some commercials.
MR. BOWERS: Y'all, someone stole my birthday quarters.
NAKAYLA: Mr. Bowers, I know I didn't steal your quarters.
MR. BOWERS: (joking) Are you sure you're not a thief? You didn't rob any liquor stores on the way to school, did you?
NAKAYLA: I don't even like licorice!
I have had so many kids crying for me in the last two days. One was crying because she has to wear a little heart monitor on her belt for a few days. Another was crying because she strepped on a kids finger and felt so bad about it, she started bawling--even though the kid who got her finger stepped on didn't even cry. The final one cried because she didn't understand how to play the game we were playing. Geez! Do other people have to console cryers everyday at their jobs?
For the 5th grade puppet activity, the kids had to draw on conversations that they were involved in or had listened to in the past. They could recreate arguments, times they were in trouble or even funny conversations.
One of the kids volunteered that he always has to listen to his parents yelling at each other and how he hates it when that happens. Then he said that his parents are divorced and they argue every time they see each other.
Of course, many hands went up in the air to tell me stories, because of so many kids have been involved in divorce.
By the time it got to be my turn to speak on the subject, here's what came out of my mouth:
Well, my parents got divorced and they hardly ever saw each other again--but then at my wedding THEY HAD TO SIT RIGHT THERE NEXT TO EACH OTHER IN THE CHURCH!!!Don't you worry, you'll get the last laugh at your parents. When you're like 35 years old, and you start having kids, they'll be right there together in the hospital saying, "Awww! Now we're grandparents, I guess we have to get along!"
Dash is a very special first grader who sometimes says the strangest things. One of his classmates was asking me about a child on our campus who has Autism. Dash provided his thought on why the Autistic child walked and acted differently that himself.
DASH: Mr. Bowers, you know Transformers? He's a Decepticon!
With the kindergarteners I was doing an observation activity where two people look at each other for a bit, then both players turn their backs to each other and make three changes in their appearance. Then they turn around and try to discover the changes. I was first to demonstrate how to play:
MR. BOWERS: OK, now, you turn your back while I make my 3 changes.
KIAN: I hope he doesn't take off his pants!
STUDENT: Mr. Bowers, he did "this" to me.
MR. BOWERS: Do you know why he did "that" to you?
MR. BOWERS: Let's go ask him.
STUDENT: Student2, why did you do "that" to me?
STUDENT2: Because you did "this" to me.
STUDENT: Yeah, because you did "THIS" to ME!!
MR. BOWERS: Student2, did you do "that" to him?
STUDENT2: Yes sir. :(
MR. BOWERS: Well, what would have been a better choice than doing "that?"
STUDENT2: Probably, "this."
MR. BOWERS: And YOU, Student! When he did "that," what would have been a better way for you to respond?
STUDENT: I could have said, "this."
MR. BOWERS: Ok, now both of you apologize. Then, you may give each other a HUG! --or a handshake.
Lydia, a second grader, has something to share with the class:
MR. BOWERS: Yes, Lydia, what would you like to say?
LYDIA: My mom said she is gonna buy me some new earrings, and one is gonna be the "plus sign" for God!
We were doing some open ended scenes with the 5th grade today. They had to make choices and then act out the scene to see if their choices fit. Two boys did their scene, and it was pretty obvious to me that it was about hiding out from the police after a bank robbery because one of the boys was acting injured and they were looking real suspicious. After the scene, I questioned the class:
MR. BOWERS: Ok, what do you think their scene was about?
BRANDON: The Womens Civil Rights Movement?
THE WHOLE CLASS: WHAT?????
I get so many Valentines from the kids and they are usually just the store bought cards with the kids name on it and sometimes it doesn't even have MY name on it! Well, this year, I got one that had a note attached to the inside that really made me feel special:
Dear Mr. Bowers,
Thank you for being so nice to me. You encourage me to sing and act better. You make my days a blast! You make me feel confident and strong. Keep on teaching! I appreciate all your help.
MR. BOWERS: Diesen! Why are you crawling across the floor?
DIESEN: I'm getting away from Hayden, he FARTED!
MR. BOWERS: Diesen! Do you think Hayden wanted everyone to know that he did that?
CARLA: Mr. Bowers, Hayden told me that he farted.
ALISON: Yeah, he always tells us when he farts.
MR. BOWERS: Hayden, why do you feel the need to tell people when you pass gas?
HAYDEN: I just like to give everyone a "heads up."
MRS. POLK (The Art Teacher): Oh, Richard, you're here early, where's the rest of your class?
RICHARD (Bilingual 3rd grader): I got to go early...our regular teacher isn't here, so we have a prostitute.
So I pick Sarah up yesterday and as she's
getting into the car, she's so excited she can hardly speak
straight..."Mommy, Mr. Bowers pulled a quarter out of my ear today for
my birthday! I watched him real close and I don't know how he did it.
He knows real magic!". Forget I drove to the donut store at 6:15 am for
a chocolate donut with pink sprinkles, brought her a Happy Meal to
school for lunch, lugged 24 melting cookie ice cream sandwiches to the
school cafeteria in a cooler for her class to celebrate...the best part
of her birthday day was having Mr. Bowers pull a quarter out of her ear.
You rock, Mr. Bowers!
Maybe next time you'll bring twenty FIVE cookie ice cream sandwiches.
MR. BOWERS: Awww, I love those shoes, where did you get them?
DAGEN (KINDERGARTNER): At the sto.
MR. BOWERS: Which store?
Sto--kindergarten definition: The place where I get stuff like toys and candy--essentials. I don't have to know one sto from another, they're all the same to me--I don't even have to know my way around the sto, I get to ride in a basket.
MR. BOWERS: Your teacher works for YOU. You know that right? You and your family pay taxes and those taxes are used to pay firefighters, teachers, policemen....so, what if you hired a gardener to work for you to build a nice flower bed outside your front door, so you could smell the wonderful flowers whenever you walked outside. Then, when the gardener is out there building the garden, you SPRAY HIM WITH THE WATER HOSE! Then, when he's planting the flowers, you RELEASE A HIVE OF BEES! Would he want to do a good job working for you?
MR. BOWERS: He's gonna finish that job as fast as possible and move on to the next job. He's not going to want to do a good job for you!
Well, your teacher is like the gardener of your mind, and she's WORKING ON YOU! Every day! Don't bother her with all this tattling, talking too much and bothering each other...and...don't spray her with water and release bees on her.