Today one of the students stole one of my quarters, and I cried.
I didn't let them see my cry. When I first realized I was missing a few, I very sternly demanded all 29 of my state quarters back, threatened that no one would leave for lunch until I had every last one. I got 28. For the next 15 minutes, the kids dumped out their pencil cases, turned their pockets inside out, and crawled under desks in search of the missing quarter. More time passed, and it became evident that the it would not materialize. I had no choice. I had to let them go to lunch. I can't starve children.
So they left, and I cried. Not because I miss my quarter. Because I work hard for them, and this class just doesn't care. Because I thought of them before I even knew them, because I lugged a coin purse full of quarters in my suitcase. Because I know money is cool to kids, and wanted each to be able to hold his or her own coin. Because the thief went to lunch with everyone else, knowing that he or she got away with it. Mostly, I cried because I still thought these kids were innocent and respected me. Because I was wrong.
The other teachers reminded me how difficult this group has been since they were in preschool. They are the terror of every teacher who has to teach them. And it's true that 28 out of 29 students returned the coins. But that doesn't change the fact that from now on, whenever I teach this class, I will always remember that one of them is a thief.
I tried to not let the quarter thief ruin my other classes, but nothing could be done. I was grumpy and upset. I didn't give everyone the energy I usually do. My last class was the worst. I was so mean to the poor kids, who were a little rowdy, but not too much. At the end of class, I told them they were bratty the whole time and I don't think they learned anything.
But we did! They said.
Oh yeah? What did you learn.
We learned all about quarters! And George Washington is on the front, and a P means it was made in Philadelphia, and a D means it was made in Denver, and every state has their own quarter and there is a picture on the back that represents that state, and the date on the top is the date when the state became part of the United Sates and the date on the bottom is when it was made!!
I can't be certain, but I think this class does respect me, at least a little bit. At least they were excited to learn new things. At least they didn't steal my quarters. I am sorry I was mean to them. I will try harder next time not to be mean to kids that are good.