All posts by Michelle Toussaint

About Michelle Toussaint

Michelle Toussaint is an Antiguan who has amassed an Associate Degree in Science Education as well as a Diploma in Forensic Science. As such, she Teaches Science in the classroom as well as at home, where she leads...er... co-leads The Tribe. A merry band comprising her Husband-The Chief, herself-The Priestess, and her three precocious children- the tribesmen. When she isn’t mothering, teaching, being a fangirl or feeding her chocolate addiction. She writes two blogs. Random_Michelle and Death By Expectations.

Lil’ Johnny

downloadWhen I was a student-teacher one of my facilitators used to forever give us scenarios with the fictitious trouble maker Lil’ Johnny. It was a source of great amusement and I must say it helped to spice up her class.

We all had, of course, had a Johnny before. And we had all pretty much already come to the conclusion that Lil’ Johnny was a kid with issues. Hey, who doesn’t have issues in this world today? Why would we think Lil’ Johnny was any different?

The problem, though, seems to be that 7 years after laughing and role-playing and scheming strategies in that classroom, I’m now faced with a culture that is almost completely alien to the one presented to me in that room.

I find myself daily in a classroom that wants very much to look like this. giphy (4)

It seems like instead of having one or two Lil’ Johnny. I’m faced with 45% Johnny’s and even some Lil’ Janes to compliment them. Which makes me feel like my classroom is

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It’s not a great feeling returning to the staffroom feeling like you’ve just starred in a scene from some world war 2 movie. You know the ones where the men are cornered in the trenches and can only throw the occasional grenade out and hope it hits the right target.

It’s ‘noice’ to imagine that all those fancy strategies like “Ignoring unwanted behavior” and “calling on the student once” or my personal favorite” waiting for the class to settle itself” etc. etc. etc, are always the answer. Unfortunately, they aren’t. Unfortunately they seem to be completely inadequate in the face of some of the cultural and social problems we have in the Caribbean classroom today.

(Yes, I’m singling out the Caribbean classroom because I feel like it is sorely neglected in the field of modern psychology, especially given all the pedagogues who lecture and self promote but do precious little to help us to establish the psychological base that we can work off of to better aid our students)

It’s enough to make a girl…rxf3oLt

Alas, that isn’t the answer either. Sigh, what is a girl to do? It was during a guilt trip my youngest tried his very best to lay down on me, that it occurred to me. A genuine, authentic eureka moment! Empathy as a classroom management tool!

Hold on, relax. It’s not as messed up as it seems.

I started with the class with the most and most outrageous set of Lil’s. I set up the class to do a cooperative learning exercise. Each group got an objective, an outline of their content and time to plan. I watched and listened, maybe cackled a little as some elaborate presentations were planned. Skits, lectures, song sessions, you name it, they planned it.

Then came the presentation day. And boy, did my babies put out. Some of them performed some works of educational art. I loved it, and for each act of greatness, there was an act, by the Lil’s spread among the groups, to disrupt the wonder.

Little faces turned to me in dismay, little hands were thrown up in exasperation. Until the biggest Lil in my class stood up and delivered a speech for good behavior so inspirational that even I was taken aback. Dude!! something might even have gotten stuck in my eye.

After class, a few of the Lil’s cornered me. I was made to listen as they said things like “Teacher wha mek dem sooooooo rude?” “Teacher ah so you feel every day?!?” “Teacher me sorry bad jack.” “Teacher nar do it again, me cyan teach nobody again.”

I chuckled, it was fun. A little revenge, a little life lessoning, and the next week even though there were some minor disruptions I never had to look at anyone like this…

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I find that with a little heavy complimenting, and a few sweets my classroom is a bit more civilized. It’s not pristine, I didn’t solve anyone’s life angst, but our learning environment might just be a little more heavy on the learning.

 

And for that maybe I might spend a little more time thinking of that class like this…

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Echo

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She stood in the middle of the baren room, and she sighed. The sound tiredness and uncertainty echoed off the walls where once stood towers of books. A lifetimes worth of lifetimes gathered and lives through the word. It bounced off the empty cupboards. We used to argue about how she could never remember to close them.

She took a step into the hallway, and the pitter-patter of her tiny heel clad feet echoed off the cavernous maws that used to be our bedroom and those of our children. She took slow steps as she passed each one. Murmuring about checking to see if we had left anything behind. But I knew that behind her eyes, she was seeing 7 years worth of tears and laughter and arguments and making up.

She lingered at the door when she finished. Took one last look and released one more breath and closed the door on the echo.

We didn’t talk on the ride away. She didn’t glance back, just squared her shoulders as I drove her into our future.

When we arrived at our new home. Our own home. She bound up the steps and entered the house with the names of our kids on her lips. The chorus of “Yes mom” greeted her and she swept all 4 into her arms. When they broke the embrace it was my turn and she whispered in my ear. “This is our home, it will ever echo.”

It never would.

What I did not know

Flying-Saucer-UFOS-hover-over-Arizona One day the mothership would return. I knew it. I felt it in my bones. I felt it in every follicle of my me-ness. I knew. So when the stars started twinkling all funny and growing and then showing themselves to be flying-freaking-saucers!! I knew, I just knew, that they had come back for me!!!!

I knew, that my days toiling in the chalk spattered trenches, my run in with bronchitis, the endless headaches caused by talking to the producers of leaderless offspring were worth it. It all made sense, listening to folks more learned than me oratoriate – is that even a word? It feels like a word. It feels like it describes people who know a lot of nothing and release a lot of mouth farts they think make sense. So I’ll let it stand- about what they think I do, reverting the education discussion to a hot, steamy, hopeless, tangle of mamagism -that one is a real word that I did not make up, thank you very much- was all worth it!

I knew so, while cities burst into riots and chaos, while people boarded windows and ran on PricePro, I went up to my roof in my nighty, no less, and let the star children know most ineloquently, that I do not want to live on this planet anymore. See, I knew I did not belong among these people.

I was wrong. They did not belong around me! I know because I saw the neighbor who had borrowed my sprinkle kit and tried to make me feel bad for wanting it back, ascend in a column of soft blue light. Indeed the neighbor who walked around naked with the curtains open and complained when passersby complained. Crying about her lack of privacy gave me one final blue illuminated full moon!

Disappointed I went to the book of faces to air my hurt and three-quarters of my friend list had been deleted! In hindsight I don’t even know why I had so many, I only needed the 6 people who responded to my posts and foody channels I followed.

The next morning to my surprise most of the news stations were abuzz. Most of the government people had been taken! But that wasn’t the best part. A bewildered intern or technician, apologizing for the missing anchors, explained that the aliens had left an apology and had cleaned the oceans, refrozen the ice caps and filled in the ozone hole.

Photo-Fiction #109

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Can you tell a story in 300 words? Here’s the challenge.
Write a fictional piece of no more than 300 words based on this picture. You pick your poison, poetry or story. Please don’t forget to, mention this post in yours, and link back here i.e. include a link to this post in your post on your blog so we can check out your work. Happy writing guys, have fun, I look forward to reading what you all come up with.

Don’t have a blog but still want to submit a story? Do you have an interesting picture you would like to see our participants write on?

Contact me at randomauthormich@gmail.com, or click the Drop me a line tab in the menu bar and submit.

Photo-Fiction #108

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Photo-Credit: Blue mountain mysteries

Can you tell a story in 300 words? Here’s the challenge.
Write a fictional piece of no more than 300 words based on this picture. You pick your poison, poetry or story. Please don’t forget to, mention this post in yours, and link back here i.e. include a link to this post in your post on your blog so we can check out your work. Happy writing guys, have fun, I look forward to reading what you all come up with.

Don’t have a blog but still want to submit a story? Do you have an interesting picture you would like to see our participants write on?

Contact me at randomauthormich@gmail.com, or click the Drop me a line tab in the menu bar and submit.

Stories or pieces submitted in the way much contain the Authors Name and a short bio in the body of the email