On My Soap Box

Oh my! Today was supposed to be an easy day - a movie in the gym in the morning so the teachers could do permanent records and report cards, a visit from Santa in the afternoon (our Christmas gifts to parents is a paper wreath with their child's picture with Santa in it) and some reading thrown in there for fun. Unfortunately a last minute meeting was scheduled during movie time, so we lost 20 minutes, then I had to go talk to the counselor about a child and then I had to play "Snowy" (our Elf on the Shelf) and decorate my classroom tree. Needless to say, while I picked up my permanent records from the office, that was about all I managed to get accomplished!


The funny part came when I was standing on the windowsill, putting up the display of the disguised turkeys from Thanksgiving and heard the door start to open. I was down off the ledge and across the room in a heartbeat! One of our Title I tutors was taking one of my kiddos for tutoring (gotta love it when they'd rather go read with a tutor than watch a movie!) and they came back to the room to grab her coat since the Title I room is now in a portable outside. I was desperately trying to block the student's view of the room and get the tutor to clue in to the fact that I was trying to hide stuff. Luckily the student didn't seem to notice - at least she didn't say anything when all of the other kids were oohing and ahhing over "Snowy's" work lol! Of course I forgot to take a picture, but I'll get one tomorrow - I love my classroom tree!


It was not all good times today though - there was a moment this morning that ticked me off. First some background: I served 3 years in the Army and my husband is still active duty, so I'm really big on patriotism and showing respect to our flag. I even teach my kiddos how to stand at attention during our big Patriot unit at the beginning of the year. It's part of our Oklahoma Priority Academic Student Standards too.

Well, every morning we have a "Wakin' and Shakin' Assembly" BEFORE school starts. Note the BEFORE part - it is NOT mandatory AND there is a staff member assigned to watch the doors, so if a student came early but did not want to go to the assembly they would still be supervised. During the assembly we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and the Oklahoma State Pledge as well as sing patriotic songs and discuss character traits

Today I was a bit late getting down there and when I got to the doorway of the gym they were just starting the flag salute. As I stood and saluted the flag from the doorway, I noticed a girl in another class messing around with her backpack. During both the Pledge of Allegiance and the Oklahoma Pledge she was busy digging in her backpack, zipping it up and slinging it onto her shoulders. When the salutes were over I went and told her that she was supposed to stand still and leave her backpack alone during the pledges.

I then went to her teacher to let her know what I had spoken to the student about. In response I was told "Oh well, I tell my students that as long as they're quiet it's okay." HUH?! It's okay to be disrespectful of the flag?!  She saw my look and told me "I know it's wrong but I have parents who don't want their children saluting the flag so I don't want phone calls from parents so I just tell the kids they have to be quiet." Now, I have absolutely no problem with not saluting the flag if it's against your religious beliefs. However, I think we might have maybe 3 or 4 students in the whole school that this would apply to. Not to mention that, this is an OPTIONAL before school event! I was a bit flabbergasted by the whole conversation and decided to bring it up in a planning meeting in the future. If a family truly has a problem with the flag salutes, it's a simple matter for their child to wait outside the gym, rather than be inside the gym and be disrespectful. However, those who don't have a religious objection to the Pledge should certainly be able to stand still for the 30 or so seconds that it takes to recite it.

Am I completely crazy? During my student teaching there was a Jehovah's Witness child in the class and he just stood quietly for the Pledge but didn't put his hand on his heart or recite it. I had no problem with that. It's the rustling around in a backpack and swinging arms etc that I object to. As I said, I'm going to bring this up in a school planning meeting, but I was just curious how other schools handle things like this?


Just so as not to end on a rant, here's my picture with Santa from today - doesn't he look authentic?! (ignore my messy hair and lack of makeup - it was a very hectic morning and who's hair actually looks good wearing antlers?!)

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