Some days, as I sit in my classroom awaiting the arrival of the throng of children who provide me with my life's work, I enjoy the quiet. Not just the lack of child-size squeaks and hollers, but the drone of my own voice. This is interesting to a number of you who are profoundly aware of my love for the sound of my own voice, the one that doesn't have an "inside" setting. But there I sit. Listening for doors opening and cars driving by outside. It is the calm before the storm.
I know that even before the bell rings, that quiet will be assailed by voices both inside and out. The tape loop that constitutes my day will take over and I will start announcing, as if anyone cared to listen, that running is not allowed in the hallways. I will remind at least twelve boys and girls that kicking the red playground balls will get them five minutes on the bench. I will tell at least another twelve the reason for this kicking ban: the balls go on the roof, it makes them leak, then nobody can play with them. I will steer vast hordes of pre-teens to their respective lines, reminding them all that we keep our hands and feet to ourselves. I am grateful at this point to have had all that breath control training from playing brass instruments in my youth. I am sad at this point that I am already sick of my own vocalizations, and I still have all the activity in my own room to monitor.
The one I get to repeat more than just about any other: "Four on the floor." This is the agreed upon phrase that reminds children of all ages not to lean back in my room. At the very beginning of the year, I spend five minutes with each class demonstrating the relative perils of tipping backward in their chairs. Falling over is the least of my concerns, since in sixteen years, I have only had one child hurt themselves, but I have had at least half a dozen sets of headphones destroyed as a combination of gravity and tipped chairs. Mostly, it causes every student in the room to stop whatever they are doing and point, laugh and stare at the kid who was tempting fate and the laws of physics. I'm not getting paid enough per word. I'll go for just the repeated ones at this point.
So, you'll excuse me while I go and enjoy a few more moments of the sounds of my gums not flapping.