“The Sub Killed Steve”

I was presenting at the area two Teacher Leader Institute this week, (it went pretty well, thanks) so there was a substitute teacher in room 128 on Tuesday.  I’m interested in how things go when there’s a sub, so I usually have the students do some writing about their day.  But as soon as I got back I was greeted by a group of students who wanted to tell me all about the unfortunate demise of Steve.

Maybe I should back up a little bit.

Sometimes in room 128 there is an ant or two.  Or a moth.  Once there was a fly.

If we are in the middle of something, this can be distracting.  Let’s just say that I’m in the middle of reading a story and twenty-four hands go up and every one of them wants to say, “Mr. Wanberg!  There’s an ant over here!”

My response is usually the same– I will probably say something like, “Yes, of course, that’s Denise.  She’s had a hard day.  Shall we let her carry on?”

Satisfied, the students can get on with their day too.

It’s play and imagination and all of the things that are most important for Kindergarten.

It is also especially important for the child whose first impulse is to stomp on something he doesn’t understand.  That used to bother me a lot.  What I find is that when you give something like an ant a name, a student’s first impulse is to be curious about it.  Not to crush it.

I know in my heart that if the only goal we achieve this year is to build curiosity for and empathy with living things and each other, we will have achieved something that is more important for ourselves and society as a whole than being able to say a certain number of letters in sixty seconds.

So I suspect that the sub may have stepped on Steve by accident.  (He was the one with the red head.)  I choose to believe the best about people.  Maybe she hadn’t been to Kindergarten around here.

Anyway, if your student has begun naming the ants in your kitchen, that’s why.

And bravo.


2 Responses to ““The Sub Killed Steve””

  1. nancysolomon Says:

    Adam Curry is my grandson and one of your students. He’s a lucky boy to be in your class. Thank you. And I’m sorry about Steve.

  2. marni Says:

    this is awesome. i asked aidan about the ants in his class at dinner tonight. he said they were mr wanberg’s friends so everyone leaves them alone. ooooh, and the sub didn’t listen to the kids who tried to explain and she killed them, but otherwise she was pretty good.

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