Thursday, December 15, 2011

A grinch or just a pragmatic!

Every year the local Rotary club has a Christmas party for the more needy kids in the school. They leave during lunch time and come back with a clear, plastic bag of toys. Anyone guess where I'm going with this? Today was  that party. I had 3 kids go. No big deal . The other kids didn't really say much about it. The kids were sent back to my room while we were at recess and they wandered around the school looking for us. Luckily my first grade teacher neighbor grabbed them and kept them with her. I told them to put their toys by their backpacks and not to talk too much about it with the other kids. We didn't want to make them feel bad for not getting to go. Things went pretty well until there was about 20 minutes left of the day. They kids were all packed up and sitting on the carpet ready to play a game when it all went awry. One of my little boys freaked out over the other kids having presents. He didn't understand why they had presents and he didn't. He didn't understand why they got to go to a party and the whole class didn't get to go. He yelled "That's not fair." And part of me completely agreed with him. I really wasn't sure what to say. This is my fifth year going through this so you'd think I'd have something to say by now. But this is the first year, I've had a kid get so upset about it. I finally pulled him outside the room and told him that these kids didn't have a lot and one of them didn't even have a Christmas tree (That's another story.) He seemed to understand but now I think he felt bad. So to make up for it, I let all the kids that didn't get to go to the party go to the treasure box in my room. That seemed to help smooth some things over. During bus duty, I had a parent ask me if the kids carrying the white plastic bags were undreprivildege because he knew for a fact one of the kids with the bag was not. I didn't really know what to say. All I said was I had no control over who gets to go to the party and I don't. I don't even get a say in who goes from my class. So this whole experience brought up a ton of thoughts and questions for me. I couldn't help but think of confidetiality of these kids who are considered needy. Then what about the kids who don't get to go. I think what the Rotary does is wonderful. They are trying to fill a need. It is just difficult when it happens during the school day. Do you schools have any events like this? How would you  have explained it to the upset kid yelling It's not fair? I couldn't help but agree with him a little. And then feel a little Grinchy for being annoyed by the whole thing.


  1. Kerri,
    I never leave comments on blogs, but I felt like I needed to this time; you sound just like me! I would totally be feeling the same as you right now. I agree that this is something that should absolutely NOT be done at school! There are a couple of reasons why:
    #1. The "needy" children are being singled out; may as well put sign on them that says "needy"! How's that for setting up a bully target! And you can bet your boots that kids in the older grades definitely know what's going on! We can teach and preach about caring for others less fortunate, "doing unto others," using kinds words, etc, etc. But who are we kidding? Kids are kids and kids can be very cruel! You KNOW these needy kids will be teased and taunted, to say the least. I agree that the Rotary club has only the best of intentions, and yes, these children should be helped in all ways possible, but there needs to be some other way to do it.
    #2. Yes, it's unfair to the other children in the school. Especially to the younger ones who don't understand. All they see is someone being treated as "special" when they're not. As I said before, kids are kids! And this also will later lead to resentment of the less fortunate children, and thus another way for them to possibly be alienated. Another case of the "haves" versus the "have-nots"!
    How do other teachers at your school feel on this issue? I'm sure you're not alone! I can tell you that at my school, there would be an uproar from the faculty! It gets ugly enough just when we try to have school-wide "behavior parties" to reward kids who have good behavior grades. And yes, we HAVE to participate, whether we like it/agree with it or not!
    Good luck! At least it's over with for this year!
    Laura in Louisiana

  2. I agree with Laura. Maybe it should be done elsewhere. My son is a manager in a supermarket and he complains about people using their food stamps to pay for $600.00 wedding cakes in the store bakery. How's that for unfair? Then he told yesterday about a lady bringing a $28.00 cake back dissatisfied. His employee realized that she was out to get cash back, told him and asked to escort the lady to the front to be sure the money went back on her EBT card. He was surprised that the employee realized what was happening and he didn't. I told him maybe he was just so busy... We talked and my response is: "I thought food stamps were to feed children and elderly who weren't able to take care of themselves..."


    Stapler’s Strategies for Sizzlin' Second Graders!

  3. You don't sound grinchy at all - maybe just a bit more aware than whoever is coordinating the charity at your school! Wow, I can't believe you don't get a say in who goes or not! I teach in a Title I school and we get a LOT of donations - at holiday time I am asked to give names for at least 3 different charities. After all, who knows the students and their situations better than the classroom teacher? It gets hard to choose after a while though - is this child more in need than this one? If I don't put this child's name in are they going to go without? Talk about pressure!

    Thankfully though, the way our school handles it is either
    A. the parents come to the office and sign for the stuff and it never comes to my room.
    B. we give the contact info to the organization (with parent permission) and the items are brought directly to their home.
    C. Items are put in a new backpack and sent home.

    Obviously C. is my least favorite choice, but it doesn't usually cause any distraction for a kid to get a new backpack since I often give those out (we get them donated through a church group so I always have backpacks for kids that don't have one.)

    Today every child in the school got 2 grocery bags full of toiletries and non-perishable food plus a bottle of juice and water. EVERY child.

    Since it's handled so well, we don't usually have any upsets about some kids getting while others don't. Although, the kids that go to tutors usually come back with a candy or at holdiay time, a small gift bag or such. This irks me because then of course everyone clamors to get to go to tutoring. I just remind them that not everyone gets a bandaid at the same time and in the same place (can't remember which blog I got that from, but it's an awesome analogy) and that eventually their turn will come!

    Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten