Losing your Marbles

Has teaching ever caused you to lose your marbles? Check out the teacher story and comic below of how one teacher lost her’s, literally!

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My first year teaching I had one particular student in my class who was a real “handful”. He was an only-child, and though being the sole child at home is not always indicative of exhibiting behavior problems in school, this young man seemed to embody all the negative stereotypical behaviors associated with such. Parent-teacher conferences where no help with the matter, as all that seemed to materialize was a plethora of excuses for the boy’s behavior that only served to enable him more. What really struck a nerve with me was that during our very first conference together the mother stated, “he’s always had older, very structured teachers, and that has been best for him.” I remember being so upset about her age-discriminatory comments that I was actually brought to tears after our meeting. I really felt like I was doing a good job keeping his impulse-control behaviors to a minimum, and had made a good connection with this kid, but this was all totally discounted by his parent for the arbitrary reason of my age (being too young!).
One particular story about this young man is forever burned in my memory. It was the Friday before February vacation. I was over the first-year “hump” and the second half of the year was in full swing; I could almost see June in my sights! My class had transitioned back from meeting with their art teacher, and having done a great job had earned the final marbles needed to fill up our marble jar and earn the class reward. Upon announcing this to the class the students cheered, but then this “only child” student suddenly ran over to the marble jar, picked it up above his head, and shook it with all this might as he began some sort of primal celebratory dance. The class erupted in laughter at his actions, and within a second the marbles burst through the glass jar they were held in. At least one hundred marbles, along with innumerable glass shards, instantly scattered all over the classroom. The boy froze with shock, and then bursting into tears (I’m assuming from embarrassment and regret) sprinted to the bathroom.
He cried for the remainder of the day, and the mother reported to me later that he got off the bus still in tears, telling her that he felt so terrible he had disappointed me. The Monday following vacation he came back to class with a new marble jar (made of plastic) as well as an apology note. For the rest of the year, he would occasionally pick up the plastic marble jar and pretend to shake it, saying, “Remember when I broke the marble jar?” As if I could ever forget the incident! When I saw him many years later as a high school student he reminded me of the marble jar and we shared a nice long laugh together.

My lessons to new teachers:
1. You can make a difference to a kid even if their parents might have a different opinion.

2. Never store ANYTHING kids can get their hands on in glass!

-Mindy Murphy

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