A Classroom Of Individuals

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A Classroom of Individuals is a must read for anyone whose daily life is touched by children. In this book, Celia Spencer has combined humor, inspiration, and common sense to the everyday situations of a teacher.

Teachers play an important role in fostering the intellectual and social development of children during their formative years. What children learn and experience during their early years can shape their views of themselves and the world in which they live. This book ...

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A Classroom of Individuals is a must read for anyone whose daily life is touched by children. In this book, Celia Spencer has combined humor, inspiration, and common sense to the everyday situations of a teacher.

Teachers play an important role in fostering the intellectual and social development of children during their formative years. What children learn and experience during their early years can shape their views of themselves and the world in which they live. This book will encourage others to provide children with social, emotional, and academic growth in a loving environment. A teacher cannot tell from one year to the next what events will emerge and how they will define their classrooms, but they can control how they will react to those events.

These short stories and educational quotes are a must read for anyone who appreciates the uniqueness of each child.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781449084226
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 2/23/2010
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Read an Excerpt

A Classroom of Individuals

50 Short Stories Along With Educational Quotes
By Celia Spencer


Copyright © 2010 Celia Spencer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4490-8422-6

Chapter One

Tough Little Girl

The first day of any school year always makes me anxious, because I know that first impressions are so important. The tone of the school year starts on that first day, as the students are all trying to figure out just what type of teacher they will have for the year. I want to set the tone and come off as an authority figure, but also someone they can feel comfortable coming to with their concerns. So at the start of every year I say a prayer that the day will go smoothly, and that there will not be any confrontations.

As I positioned myself outside my classroom door to greet all the students, I noticed a new face to our building making her way toward me. She looked much older than the other sixth grade students, so I figured that she would just pass my room and head for seventh or eighth grade. However, she sauntered right up to me with a large coffee in her hand and smelling of cigarettes, and asked me where her locker was located. I showed the new student to her locker. She opened the locker door and placed her large coffee on the top shelf. I explained to her that open drinks were not allowed in the lockers, and that she would have to dump her coffee out and throw away the cup. She informed me that the coffee was her lunch for the day. I explained to her that the cafeteria would be happy to serve her lunch, and she could simply pay for it at a later date. She got up in my face, raised her voice, and told me in no certain terms that she could eat and drink anything she pleased. I had never sent a student to the principal's office on the first day of school before, but I figured that that particular situation called for a higher authority. When I told her that she needed to explain her situation to the principal, she glared at me with such malice that I became nervous. At that very moment, I knew that the tone for the year had been set.

Frankie made my year a living hell on a daily basis. She argued over everything, fought with the other students, cussed, threw things, tore up papers, and even left the school grounds on several occasions. No matter what method I tried with her, nothing worked.

Frankie did not return to our school the following year. It was rumored that she was pregnant by the eighth grade. Apparently she has had to deal with some demons at an early age. I continue to pray for her, and hope that someday she will find the help she needs to turn her life in the right direction.

Theories and goals of education don't matter a whit if you don't consider your students to be human beings.

Lou Ann Walker

The Prankster

Every once in awhile a teacher gets a student that likes to play pranks and this was the case with Eric. He was far from being the class clown as they usually interrupt class time; instead he was a quiet jokester. His jokes were usually only meant for me and seldom were they mean in nature.

I recall the time he had taken my paperclip holder and chained all the paperclips into a very long chain. The class got a laugh every time I reached for a clip as I would need to unhook it from the mile long chain to use it.

Before state testing began, I purchased a box of No. 2 pencils and spent a lot of time sharpening them for the class. I had placed the box of sharpened pencils on my desk, so that they would be handy for the next day. When I reached for the box, I discovered that it was empty. I asked the students if they knew what had happened to the box of pencils, but all I got out of them were snickers. Then I noticed one student's eyes gaze up at the ceiling. There above Eric's desk were all the pencils stuck into the ceiling tile. Although I found it funny, he was given a punishment for his little pencil prank.

There was a donkey piñata in the room that was given to me from a student that did her social studies report on Mexico. His name was Jose and he was the unofficial class mascot. Eric found great pleasure in moving Jose to different parts of the classroom. Sometimes he was easily spotted while other times he was harder to find. One day I went downstairs to pickup the students from gym class, and the gym teacher walked over to speak with me. This usually indicated that there was some sort of altercation during gym class. With a big grin on her face, she asked me if I knew anything about the donkey in the boys' locker room. That was the first of many times that Jose would show up in other teachers' classrooms.

Eric played many pranks on me that year. Sometimes he ended up in trouble, but for the most part we all enjoyed a good laugh. In my opinion, anyone that desires to work with children needs a good sense of humor.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Nelson Mandela

Mother to the Rescue

Keith was a rambunctious fourth grader. He ran through the halls, and could be heard from several classrooms away. He had been warned many times to keep his hands to himself as he liked to push, grab, and hit other children. Although he was not one of my students, I had given him verbal warnings for the behavior I witnessed. His standard response was that he was only joking around.

One day while waiting for my students to return from recess, I witnessed him hit another student on the back of the head. This started an altercation between the two boys. I went outside and pulled Keith out of line to have a talk with him. He started in with his usual denying speech, and then went on to tell me that the other boy was guilty too. I explained that I had witnessed the entire event, and issued him a detention. He started arguing with me, at which time I explained that another detention would be issued for insubordination.

About fifteen minutes after dismissal time, his mother came storming up to me accusing me of being unfair to her son. She told me that her son was not going to serve my after school detention, because he was only playing with the other student. Keith just stood there with a smirk on his face; it was obvious to me that he was getting pleasure out of the way his mother was speaking to me. I explained that I had witnessed the entire event, and his behavior warranted a detention. She went on to say that if her child served a detention, then the other boy better be serving one too. I told her that I was not going to issue the other student a detention as he was the innocent victim. She turned and headed right to the principal's office. In the principal's office I gave a full account of what had happened, and was pleased that the principal had backed my decision. The mother left the office yelling and carrying on as she made her way out of the building.

Part of growing up is taking responsibility for one's own actions. A student needs to be made accountable for their behavior and suffer the consequences that come from it. I know that in the mother's mind she thought that she was protecting her son, but what she was doing was hindering his social growth.

You must learn to live day by day, year by year, to broaden your horizon. The more things you love, the more you are interested in, the more you enjoy, the more you are indignant about, the more you have left when anything happens.

Ethel Barrymore

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was just around the corner, and I wanted the students to decorate small keepsake boxes and make cards for their mothers. We started with the cards. Each student was given a piece of construction paper and asked to fold it in half. They were asked to write something nice on the inside of the card, and decorate the outside. As I walked around the room, I noticed that all the students were busy at work except for Gary. I made some suggestions to him as to what he might want to write, and moved on to other students. As I made my way back to his row, I noticed that he still hadn't started the card. When asked why he hadn't started, he simply shrugged his shoulders. I could tell by his expression and demeanor that something was bothering him. He followed me out to the hall where I inquired about his attitude. He wanted to know if he could make two cards instead of one. He said he wanted to give one to his mother, and one to his real mom. Perplexed, I asked him to explain. He told me that his real mom lived in town and that he knew who she was, but his dad wouldn't let him have anything to do with her. Here the school year was nearly over, and I had no idea that the woman that served as one of my room mothers, and the one that attended all the conferences, was not his biological mother. I told him to go back in the room and get started on his two cards.

After a few days of pondering the situation over, I had decided that I would have a conference with his father. I wanted to bring to the father's attention the hurt his son seemed to be feeling. The day of the conference arrived, and I was a nervous wreck. I feared that I was overstepping my boundaries as a teacher. However, the meeting went quite well and I learned the reason why Gary's mother was not in the picture. Gary's father explained that he had divorced her when Gary was still an infant. He said that he was awarded full custody of Gary, because his ex-wife had a serious drug addiction. I couldn't tell Gary's father how to conduct his personal affairs, but I suggested that perhaps supervised visits could be arranged since Gary seemed to want a relationship with his mother.

On the first day of school the following year, Gary came barreling into my room telling me that he had visited his mother several times. He was smiling ear to ear as he told me about some of his visits with her. It made me happy to see Gary so happy. I only hope that his real mother has straightened out her life, and will develop a positive relationship with her son.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

William Butler Yeats

Detective Work

Part of my everyday routine is to have the students stand as I call off the homework assignments which are due that day. The student will sit when they hear their name called off. This allows me to quickly check for any missing work. In many incidences the student has just failed to turn in the assignment, and they retrieve it from their desk or locker. If the assignment is not found, then a missed assignment notice is written for the parent to sign.

Matt was a really responsible student. He always put effort into his work and never had a missed assignment. So he was dumbfounded when he found himself standing after the English assignment was called off. Matt frantically went through his desk and locker. He swore that he had turned in the assignment and asked if he could look through the pile of papers. After only a few minutes, he came to me with a paper which had the top left corner missing, and on the right hand side of the paper was another name. He swore to me that the assignment belonged to him and not Emma. I called Emma up to my desk and asked about the paper. She got angry and swore that the paper was hers. I could tell by the handwriting that the paper belonged to Matt, but I did not want to call a student a liar. I had both students go back to their desks, and take out a clean sheet of paper. I instructed the two students to number their papers, and write the words which I supplied. Taking their papers, we compared the handwriting. It was obvious that the assignment belonged to Matt as the handwriting was a perfect match. Emma continued to deny that she did anything wrong. I took Emma out to the hall to have a private talk with her. She made the accusation that another student had probably thrown her paper away, and put her name on Matt's paper just to get her in trouble. She continued to deny that she had written her name on Matt's paper. I took her back into the classroom, and had her write her name several times. Her signature was compared to the one on Matt's paper and it was a match. She still continued to deny any wrongdoing, and claimed that someone forged her name just to get her in trouble. I could not get Emma to admit to what she had done. I decided that she would receive a detention for her actions.

The next day Emma's mother came to school in a rage. She demanded to know why her daughter was being punished for something that she did not do. I showed her mother the paper, but she insisted that her daughter would never do anything so devious. The principal attended our meeting, and it was her decision to not have Emma serve the detention.

In my opinion, children need to take responsibility for their actions, or valuable life lessons will not be learned.

The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.

Anatole France

An Ounce of Prevention

Robert was the type of student that a teacher would have mixed feelings about. On one hand, your heart went out to him because he was excluded from the other classmates, but on the other hand, he was usually responsible for his own exclusion due to annoying behavior. Robert would hum excessively, make weird noises, and talk to himself. He often got into verbal and physical confrontations with the other students. It was understandable that the other children did not want to be seated next to him, as his behavior was more than distracting. When asked to stop doing whatever behavior he was doing, Robert would get mad, deny doing anything wrong, and start into his speech about how no one liked him and everyone picked on him. Robert was an only child being raised by joint custody, and I attributed his behavior to lack of socialization with other children.

The day before Christmas break, Robert was in an unusually bad mood. He refused to join in the holiday games, told everyone to leave him alone, and stated that he was going to stay in the classroom while the others went down to the cafeteria for their pizza, snacks, and ice cream. I explained to Robert that he was not permitted to stay in the classroom unattended, and he would be joining the others downstairs even if he decided not to eat a bite. Once downstairs, a female student of mine said that on the way down to the cafeteria, she heard Robert say that he was going to kill himself over Christmas break. Being concerned, I took Robert back upstairs to talk to him in private. He started crying and admitted what he had said. When asked why he would say such a thing, he replied that he hated his parents fighting all the time, and that he didn't like going back and forth between their houses. He further explained that his father was ill, and that his mother was an alcoholic that hid bottles around the house. Robert's life was in a state of turmoil, and he did not have the coping skills necessary to deal with the hand he had been dealt. Robert said that he felt death would bring an end to his problems. Social Services were called along with his parents. The principal and I stayed several hours after school talking to the parents, police, and social workers. Reports were written and a follow-up was promised.

I have often thought about the tragedy that could have happened, and I thank God for the intervention of that female student. Once again, I was reminded that as a teacher I have a responsibility to investigate the behavior of a child before passing judgment. A teacher never knows what goes on in the lives of the students outside the classroom door.

The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live.

Mortimer Adler

Homework Pass

As part of my reward system, the students receive a stamp for every minus zero they get on homework. This is used as an incentive for them to do their best on homework; the stamps are only given on homework assignments that do not take a grade. Ten stamps on their homework sheet earn them a homework pass on one future homework assignment. The students love the idea and are ecstatic when they have reached their goal.

Mickey was a very competitive student. He played sports and was involved in various academic programs. However, Mickey was not a good sport. He was often involved in verbal and physical confrontations with other students over competitions that occurred during gym, recess, or class. Although Mickey was strong in his academics, he was often sent to the principal's office due to his lack of self-control.


Excerpted from A Classroom of Individuals by Celia Spencer Copyright © 2010 by Celia Spencer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Tough Little Girl....................1
The Prankster....................5
Mother to the Rescue....................9
Mother's Day....................13
Detective Work....................17
An Ounce of Prevention....................23
Homework Pass....................27
Where to Look....................31
The Boy Who Cried Wolf....................35
Wrong Career Choice....................39
Adult Conversation....................45
Nature Verses Nurture....................53
Man Overboard....................57
Youth Lost....................61
Bad Air....................67
The Bad Seed....................71
Phonetic Spelling....................75
Money Returned....................79
Natural Talent....................83
Conference Time....................87
Parents with Blinders....................91
Movie Day....................95
Sixth Grade Love....................99
Family Secrets....................103
Last Minute....................109
Overly Confident....................117
Ugly Duckling....................121
Hamster Day....................123
Locked In....................131
Voice of Reason....................135
Glasses Please....................139
The Chase....................143
Time to Dance....................153
Sit Still....................157
The Zipper....................161
The Letter....................165
The Shoes....................169
Where Is That Planet....................173
Special Needs....................177
Literal Meaning....................181
The Punishment....................185
White Lies....................191
Personal Hygiene....................195
Sisterly Love....................199
Time for Change....................203
A Difficult Year....................207
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2011

    Highly Recommend - Honestly Written

    My mother was an elementary teacher throughout the first twenty years of my life, and these stories could have been written by her. She always came home with a story to tell about her school day. Sometimes her stories were funny in nature, but other times they were sad. This book tells the truth about teaching, the good and the bad. I can't tell you how many times my mother would comment about the parents of the children she taught, shaking her head at some of their outrageous behavior. I felt as if this book was written from the heart. The author tells it like it was..honest and to the point. I enjoyed the different tone of each story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2011

    self-promoting propaganda

    I purchased this book in hopes of hearing ancedotes of the author's classroom experiences. Unfortunately, this book is shamelessly self-promoting where every tale is about how great the author is in every situation, and how the parents are constantly wrong. The author's depictions of many students seemn cruel and heartless. Unless you're interested in reading about a teacher who is ALWAYS right and likes to describe her previous students in a demeaning irresponsible way, and seems to speak condesendingly about every parent she has ever come in contact with, this is not the book for you.

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