Dozens of educators gathered to tell stories of the challenges and joys of teaching at Ash & Elm Cider Co. last week. The event was organized by teacher Ronak Shah and sponsored by Teach for America. In the coming weeks, Chalkbeat will share a few of our favorites, lightly edited for clarity.
We start with a story shared by Chelsea Easter-Rose, an eighth-grade English teacher at Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School. For more stories about Indianapolis educators, see our “What’s Your Education Story?” occasional series.
I want to talk to you today about a mouse and my kids.
I work at an urban school, as they are called. All of my middle school students love hot chips. And what we started to realize was, the mice love them too. The kids would eat, and they would brush the dust off, because you don’t want to get it on your paper. And they would eat and the bag would spill and some would get on the ground. And then the mice would come out to the class.
We have one mouse that at this point could be the salutatorian because he’s like raising his hand like he’s in the class. And the mice became part of existence, our day-to-day life. When I hear a squeal, it’s one of two things: It’s a mouse or maybe children might be about to fight. I’m always ready to either catch a mouse or break up a fight.
(One day) I’m doing my uniform check, and I hear a squeal, and I run into room 301. And I’m like, “Hold strong, I’m ready to break up this fight!”
And this is a mouse.
“Miss Easter, get the mouse!” It’s over there, and I see 23 eighth-graders … and they want me to get the mouse. And I’m like, “I don’t see it,” and they’re like, “because it’s dead!”
I look at the mouse, and it’s smashed against the wall. Now I’m thinking, “One of my kids killed a mouse with a dictionary, and now not only do I have to pick up the remains of a dead mouse, now I have to investigate which one of you is about to be a serial killer.”
I walk a little closer, and I realize that something is happening. And I tell (my students), “I need you to be silent right now.” And of course, the only thing a 14-year-old can do when you say be silent is ask, “What’s going on? What’s the problem?”
I’m blocking them. “I need you to be silent right now!”
(Then a student interjects.)
She has some new information she wants to tell me. And she says, “Teacher, I want to tell you something about the mouse…”
I look at the mouse, and it does a little shift … and then the mouse unfurls its wings and takes flight. And the room is silent except for (a student) who says, “Oh s***, that mouse can fly!”
So now, I don’t know what to do. There’s a mouse flying — this is obviously a teaching moment, right? The kids are now running around the room because the mouse is flying, they are freaking out. Mr. Hernandez walks in, knocks the mouse down into the trash can and leaves, so we can all be quiet.
Then Karen: “Hey guys, what I was trying to tell you about the mouse is … I think it’s a bat.”
Here are the next three things I hear children say:
“Karen, bats aren’t real!”
“What is a bat?”
“Hold up, you trying to tell me there’s been a vampire up in this school?”
So we get back to our seats. And that’s when I walk towards the board with our objectives: “Students will be able to identify theme in the story The Lottery.”
The only thing I can think to write is: “Students will be able to know what a bat is.”