Monday, June 5, 2017

Post Dismissal Brain Malfunction

A blog about school days may seem anti-climactic now that the doors are closed for the
summer. But it is only today I can reflect on what actually happens to my brain during the
academic year on a daily basis.

When the dismissal bell rings and the last student leaves at 3 p.m. so does my ability to
formulate complex sentences. I can't remember words like "pencil," "website," "classroom,"
or even my name. In an effort to recapture the lost vocabulary, I stare into space, as if the word
is going to come soaring at me from above and pop into my head. Instead, my head
resembles the brown rim at the bottom of a coffee cup at day's end. Nothing there, empty, sad,

It's really bad when a parent stops me in the hallway to ask a question after a day of instruction.
Here's what it sounds like:
Parent: "Hi, Do you know what happened to Susie's benchmark test results from the fall
and if her grade has improved for this 6 weeks' progress report?" It's February.
Me. "Ummm ...yes. She. Did. Good. Ummm."

So then I start snapping my fingers as if high level vocabulary words will magically appear in my head, like Cinderella's fairy godmother with her dress. Alas, I appear as if I'm
musically challenged and looking for a lost rhythm with my snapping.

Parent: "Do you know what skills she's struggling with in reading?"
At this point, academically challenging words like "author's purpose" or
"fluency level" have left me like a plane bound for Cancun.
Me: Hold up the imaginary phone in my hand, nod and mumble, "Conference tomorrow?"

This is largely because for a full seven hours... and I'm talking FULL, a teacher says things like
"Stop. Pick that up. Please. Get out your journal. Yes. Bubble in your mouth. Raise your hand.
Fabulous answer. Not exactly, but good try. Put away the fidget spinner. This is your warning.
Where is your permission slip? Get your finger out of your nose, please. Put some hand
sanitizer on it, you'll be fine. Stop drumming on the desk. Please. THE FIDGET SPINNER IS MINE FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR AND ALL ETERNITY!"

I feel especially sorry for my own children when I come home and they ask what we're having
for dinner. "Ummm," I answer, snapping for the magic to happen. "The yellow stuff, box,
cheese. Meat. "
My daughters look at me with that special teenage gaze. So loving and helpful.
"You mean mac and cheese with meatballs?" they answer.
"YES!" I jump and point emphatically, like a winner on Family Feud.

When will the words return? I wonder. I try to revive my brain cells with an adult beverage
or two, which only results in more staring, snapping and silence. Not effective.
Maybe this summer I'll develop a series of post-dismissal communication queue cards.
When I have after-school meetings or parent conferences, I can just point to cards that read,
"Your student is struggling with long-division skills but excels in spelling words with
-ing endings." Or "I agree; small group instruction allows for differentiation among all students."
Genius, right? Just as long as I make those cards before 3 in the afternoon.
Otherwise, they'll read much like talk show queue cards. APPLAUSE. LAUGH. NOD.

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