## Tuesday, April 04, 2006

### 250 Students and No Class Bunny

I totally (heart) Phillip Done. He's a veteran third-grade teacher and author of 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny. The man can write, and the book is a riot.

I also find myself identifying to an amazing degree with what he writes about teaching third graders. Sometimes teaching college students doesn't seem that different. Some things are different. I don't have lunchroom duty, I rarely meet parents, and I've never had to get a student loose who has licked a frozen flag pole on a dare. (It rarely gets cold enough for that here.) His opening essay is about being a teacher, which starts with:
I read Charlotte's Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory every year, and every year when Charlie finds the golden ticket and Charolotte dies, I cry.
I take slivers out of fingers and bad sports out of steal the bacon. I know when a child has gum in his mouth even when he is not chewing. I have sung "Happy Birthday" 657 times.

OK, so I read Calculus: Early Transcendentals every year, and I no longer cry when my students say the derivative of ex is x ex-1. I know when a student is not paying attention even when they are looking at me. (The iPod buds in their ears are a good clue.) And although I have not yet set it to music, I have definitely said "Integrating the rate of change gives the total change in a quantity" more than 657 times, possibly just this semester. They guy in the office next to mine can probably attest to that. (And probably wishes I would stop.)

But when I got to the following, I had my first major guffaw of appreciation:
I say, "Use two hands!" when they carry their lunch trays. I say, "Accidents happen," after they did not use two hands.

And I understand. I feel like I spend a great deal of time saying "Accidents happen" to students who "did not use two hands", although it usually sounds more like: "Yes, printers sometimes run out of ink. You can turn it in tomorrow. But next time, try not to print out a major assignment two minutes before class."