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“When did Mr. Rogers become so important?”

Date: 1/27/2008

So, Thursday, we took our students on an ice-skating field trip. Due to a childhood skating accident (a bruised butt) and the thought of someone skating over my fingers, I decided I would be the “watch the stuff and the “inside” students” person. So I sat inside with a big cup of hot cocoa (mounted with whipped cream) and talked to another teacher friend (free of students), while my other teammates skated with the students. It was such a relaxing trip; however, in the back of my mind, I knew I would be “in” for it the next day. I had students in the first period of the day on Friday. After such a fabulous field trip (which we usually schedule for a Friday, because of the backlash with students), I knew I was in for it!!! So I went on a date with Mike and decided to have the time of my life, because the next day may leave me high and dry with no energy in the world. However, much to my surprise, I was utterly wrong. After my last swig of coffee, my students piled in. I greeted them with the usual “hey class,” told them to look at the day’s checklist (what they would have to accomplish for that day), and told them to begin to read. And like any other day, the students picked up their books and read. It was silent, and the students seemed relaxed. I was able to do a reading conference with six different students. It felt terrific. Even as I started the mini-lesson, the students sat quietly, taking notes, and listening. I felt on top of the world. That is until the class took a CRAZY turn; it went something like this: Me: …she put on her sweater… “Like Mr. Rogers” I give him "the look" …he sits quietly until I hear “I remember Mr. Rogers….” Student A: “Who is Mr. Rogers?” “Yeah, he was the best…” “He used to have them trains and sweaters and s#*!” Me: “Watch that language!!! Class come..” “But he is dead like that other white boy.” Student A: “Guys, who is Mr. Rogers?” “Wait!!! Mr. Rogers is DEAD?” ( I think I see a tear…) “Class YOU NEED TO…” “Yeah, he is dead..” “Did he die from drugs too?” The class then broke out in like five different conversations: “Everyone is dying of drugs,” “How did she not know that Mr. Rogers is dead,” “He was like 105 years old…on-air.” “He was a pimp…I loved his sweaters,” Student A: “Who is Mr. Rogers?” Class BE QUIET!!! The class is now silent. Me: “I cannot believe you guys; we need a minute of silence!” ( we take a minute of silence- I time them while I give them all angry looks) So, when I am speaking, you guys are what!!! Class: Not speaking… A hand raises… I sigh and then answer, “yes, student A.” “Who was Mr. Rogers?” Student B ( a student who has been through a lot): “You don’t know who Mr. Rogers is…what kind of childhood did you have?” Student A frowns (possibly because of her hard childhood). So I butt in “Student A, I didn’t watch Mr. Rogers either. Now back on to the mini-lesson…” As I am writing down instructions, I overhear the following conversation about me taking place between two of my students: “Man, she didn’t watch Mr. Rogers?”’ “I know he was like in the seventies…” “I know that is like her generation!!!” “She really must have a hard childhood.” “That’s probably why she is mean sometimes!” “Right…” chimes in a third student… Now, as bad as I wanted to let them know, I had a great childhood. I said nothing. I just finished instructions and watched as the students began to add to their “wonder” lists. However, in the back of my mind, I said another wonder to my list: “When did Mr. Rogers become so important?”


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