I entered the classroom as scheduled. The students were now at their tables, building “towers” with small Kleenex boxes, cardboard paper towel rolls, and other similar boxes and rolls. Once they were done building their buildings, Mrs. Shapiro and I both took masking tape and taped each student’s tower together so it could stay together, and then each student went to an art table with paint to paint their towers.
I was asked to help tape together the towers of various students. Because of how the towers shaped, taping towers together took quite some time, and a lot of tape. One tower took me about five to ten minutes to tape together. By the time free time was over, I had only taped four towers together.
It took a long time for each student to build and paint their towers. By the time it was clean-up time, half the students had not completed their towers yet. But clean-up time could not be pushed off since this was Tuesday, and from 9:55 to 10:25 on Tuesdays, the students went to Art class.
While I was indeed true to my word regarding limiting my involvement at first with extracurricular classes, the students seemed to have problems maintaining straight lines when they were walking through the hallways from the kindergarten room to the other classrooms, like the music, art room, etc. Mrs. Shapiro split the class into two lines—the boys’ line and the girls’ line—and the kids had trouble maintaining their place. Due to my autism, I had the same problem, even in the 5th grade.
I realized that I could be useful helping Mrs. Shapiro maintain the back of the line. So when it was time to line the students up for art, I helped her maintain the line by standing in the back of it and motioning students to get back into their place in line, and making sure I supervised kids who were left behind by the line and were still in the room after Mrs. Shapiro had left in her class.
While in the halls, the advantages of working at Shay became apparent. I passed lots of teachers in the halls who had known me as a little child, and it was very easy to explain to them why I was there. There was no suspicion because these teachers had already known who I was.
After art class Mrs. Shapiro sat the students down so I could read to them a story I had previously agreed to read to them—“Mrs. McGill Goes To Town.” The book comes from “Dance to the Music,” the name of a reading book for 2nd graders, written by Hartcourt Brace Jovanovich. The story is told semi-poetically and is about working together—and teaches a lesson similar to the story “Swimmy” by Leo Lionni. This is the story Mrs. Shapiro typically uses to teach a lesson in working together. I told the story and asked the students if they could see people working together when a picture appeared that showed people working together. After I finished reading the story, the entire class gave me a large round of applause.
Because the students had not finished their building projects, Mrs. Shapiro decided not to teach the lessons she was planning to teach. Rather, she decided to give the students extra free time in order for make sure they finished their building projects. The projects, in the end, were beautiful. They were made with different formations of cardboard and Kleenex boxes, taped together with packing tape and then painted different colors—red, blue, yellow, purple, pink. I was amazed by the different creative styles of each student.
When it was time for the students to line up for music class, they had fortunately all finished their building projects, and lined up for music. I escorted the class along with Mrs. Shapiro to maintain the class lines in the hallways, as I did for music class.
After music class, Mrs. Shapiro sat the students down and then asked them what words they knew that began with the letter “R.” Then she wrote each word down on a large sheet of poster board that had been cut to form the letter “R.”
After that, kindergarten was over, and it was dismissal time. Mrs. Shapiro sang the traditional kindergarten song, and the class left.
After class ended, Mrs. Shapiro told me that one of her students, Roger, was struggling with handwriting. He did not write his letters properly in one of Mrs. Holmbeck’s evaluations. I also learned from her that Roger had recently been undergoing some separation anxiety issues when he came to Kindergarten each morning. This shocked me as Roger was a kid I knew from the JCC daycare center, and he had not engaged in any of those behaviors there.