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    Grieving and hysteria 1st grade
    By Ken

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    So timely a post! I had a long post prepared a few hours ago on my subject but lost it when my system crashed.

    A short version: I did a 1st grade assignment and one little girl began sobbing as we began math. Her Dad had died last year (I found out later) and she tearfully shared that with me when I asked her what the problem was.

    Suddenly 4 or 5 others started crying, also telling of death of grandparent, etc. All wanted to be allowed to go see the guidance counselor. I had to quickly stop the math lesson, deal with this in a sensitive manner and get help. After talking to the other 1st grade teacher, leaving voicemail for the counselor and trying to manage the several kids running around the room while I talked to the next door teacher I quickly decided to deflect things and have the kids make up a get well card for teacher.

    I quickly pulled 2 large sheets of paper off the flip chart, grabbed several boxes of markers and divided the class in 2. Of course, one or two had to quickly tell me what paper I should use, "I don't want to sit with her/him", etc. I sternly told them that they will listen and I will not entertain any questions as I am dealing with an issue that cannot be pushed aside and I must have their total attention on my assignment.

    This actually worked as all the kids, including the several crying, did begin the 2 large cards for teacher.

    While I feel bad I could not accomplish the teacher's lesson plans for math I also felt I could not push on and had to deflect what seems to have been some type of hysteria.

    After talking to the teacher briefly today this is not the first time this has happened and, likely, her being out sick and the kids not as familiar with me, etc. it created a brand new playing field for it to come up again.

    I feel a real need to talk more about this with the teacher, counselor, etc. This really drained me and I felt so bad for the little girl as she had indeed lost her Dad last year and has apparently had some real struggles with the grieving process. I had to really be the strong adult/Sub. but I frankly could not continue with math either so it was something I had to make decisions on quickly and always try to keep the kids in the forefront.

    On your original post - I've done enough K-2 sub'ings and it seems like crying is really common. Sometimes you feel like you must walk on eggshells but then again you need to help the kids understand that they need to develop broader shoulders - I do not deal with the little bickerings from the playground, etc. - solve it yourself but if I see any fighting I will quickly pull you in from recess or whereever we happen to be.

    Best, Ken in WI

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