Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Glove Nazi: Tales from a Lunch Supervisor

There are a regular stable of people who act as lunch supervisors at J's school. Sometimes I am not good with names, especially in this situation, where all of the names I have to remember are people who are very similar in appearance and lack easily distinguishing features. It's easy for them to remember my name, I am the only guy. Much harder for me as they are all white females and mothers in their 30's neither fat nor skinny and within the average of attractiveness.

A good way to remember people is by giving them names that match some prominent feature, such as big nose, funny face, etc. If a group lacks large differences in physical characteristics, I usually head towards personality, hence: The Glove Nazi.

The Glove Nazi is an older woman, so I probably could come up with a name based on her appearance, as she is not the typical in her 30's mother, but the name just fits her so well I have to use it. 

The Glove Nazi is all about making sure the kids follow the rules. She spends most of her time telling the kids to go back on put on their hat or coat. But her biggest "thing" is gloves. I think she knows she has a bit of a thing about gloves as she was quick to explain to me on the first day that she had seen some bad frostbite cases and so was particular about gloves. 

While I agree that the kids should be wearing the proper winter clothes, she is very authoritarian about it. Sometimes kids learn best by having direct contact with the results of their choices. If little Johnny doesn't wear his gloves and his hands start to hurt, that pain will focus his attention and maybe next time he will remember to wear his gloves. My approach is to gently question them "Aren't you cold?" when they answer no, I look at them skeptically and "Ok, but I sure would be cold if I didn't have my ____ on?" It's probably less effective and I have yet to see a kid go running back to school to get whatever item they are not wearing, but perhaps I have made some small step towards having them become more responsible for themselves.  

Of course, I don't want some six year old to lose a finger just to learn a simple lesson, but is that really a risk? They don't let the kids go out if it is less that -15 degrees C and lunch is only twenty-four minutes, not enough to get frostbite.

At some point they have to learn to take some responsibility for themselves. I think it is better to guide rather than order them. Plus, I would go insane spending all that time saying things like "Sally, go get your gloves", "Fred go put on your hat", "Where are your pants", etc. I would never survive as an elementary school teacher. 

The one good thing about the Glove Nazi is that she does the job I don't want to do. 

And she gives me something to write about.

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