Macungie, Pennsylvania is home, and ONE WAY TO THINK ABOUT IT is a blog by Catherine Gehman, educator. Her posts are designed to energize and inspire teachers in all stages of their career by simply giving - giving ideas that work for her, and by bringing attention to past and current expert voices in education.

Nuthin' Left

Nuthin' Left

Put a cup of goldfish crackers in front of a child at home and they’re usually happy. Change the setting, and put a cup of goldfish crackers in front of students in the classroom, and they jump up and down like they’ve just been given a million dollars.  Go figure. It’s just the way it is. This is just one of many reasons I enjoy having parents donate snacks during PSSA (standardized testing) week each year. It makes kids happy.

Parents send in fruit salad, yogurt, goldfish, or some kind of baked good. Sometimes they’ll go so far as to add a bottle of water or juice with a word of personalized encouragement.  Then, once PSSAs are over, collected, and picked up by administration, I have kids read a book and pick up their snack from the back table. I can’t even tell you how much the kids look forward to this time.

Unfortunately, we had a big, big problem last year.  It was a Tuesday, and the poor kids were exhausted as it was the second week of testing.  So you can only imagine how disappointed six of my twenty-seven students were when they went to the the table and the muffin containers were completely empty.  Of course, one of the unhappy children came to me right away to report the issue. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“Who ate all the muffins?”  I asked with great concern. Crickets.  No one said a word. This was followed by some finger pointing and accusations which I shut down pretty quickly. I had made it abundantly clear that each child could have 3 mini muffins, but someone or several kids took more than their share.

I didn’t say any more about the matter, but I had an idea.  I had a wonderful, awful idea.

The next morning, I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts and I purchased 6 large, lovely, pink-frosted donuts with sprinkles. Before the students arrived, I placed a donut on top of a festive napkin and placed it on the desk of each student who had the bad fortune of finding the muffin container completely empty the day before. Beside the fresh, sweet confection I laid a copy of a poem I had penned the night before called Nuthin’ Left.

Ursula, the teacher in the classroom beside me (and my partner in crime), stood outside the classroom and together we watched the kids file in.  It took a minute or two, but soon it became clear by the dismayed looks on most of their faces, that they were realizing not everyone received a pink donut with sprinkles. Only six students had faces of pure delight as each of them read the poem and guarded their treasure so no one could take this away from them.

I don’t know if this was mean, but I have to say that it was truly gratifying and quite hysterical, and Ursula and I laugh about it even now.  I hope you enjoy my poem.

Nuthin’ Left

By Mrs. Gehman

You came to the table for your PSSA muffin.

But to your dismay the container had nuthin’.

The look in your eyes was puppy-dog sad,

But for me looking on, I could only feel mad.

“Who took two when they should’ve had one?”

I asked and waited for a tale to be spun.

Not one word was uttered by the kids in the room;

Just eyes big as saucers, and a feeling of gloom.

But, today is your day because all is made right;

Here’s a donut with sprinkles for your pure delight.

Eat and enjoy every sprinkle and crumb;

No need to feel down, no need to feel glum.

Like every good teacher, I look for a lesson;

Barren containers can be exception.

Remember, in life, when it’s not always fair,

Be patient and kind and try not to despair.

When others don’t listen or they’re intentionally cruel;

Don’t stoop to their level, just look for the jewel.

What’s the jewel you may ask?

It’s right before you, you see.

Your fortune increased two-fold or three;

Now we can clap and shout out with glee.

Let’s hope the two-muffin-eaters who cared not a bit,

Have learned a good lesson and increased in wit.

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