2 PM today.
Spartacus is crawling on my classroom floor while I’m trying to hang some posters. He starts playing with the floor fan (he loves fans). I go and retrieve him, and he does his sweet little Spartacus hug where he wraps his arms around my neck and buries his hands in my hair. Only this time, instead of just getting tangled, they get STUCK. I extricate myself and look at his hands. They are covered in something very sticky.
I trace his steps, trying to figure out what on earth he got into in my mess of a new classroom that would have caused this.
I go to the fan. On the floor, there is a clear sticky substance.
The more I look, the farther it goes. Several square feet are coated in this. I touch it; it is very sticky, like glue, but thick.
There is a box of packed stuff from my desk on the floor; its corner is in this sticky stuff. Maintenance already waxed the floors; did some wax get left somehow and forgotten, and melted in my non-AC room? I look at the ceiling – no drips of anything. It is right under my white board…nothing there to drip. What is this stuff?
I pick the box up, and the sticky seems to be coming from that. I start to unpack it, layer by layer. Paper clips, photos, random thank you notes from students. Then I see it. The broken glass. And I realize what a mess I have.
I have dumped a pint of corn syrup all over my classroom floor. And I don’t know how long it’s been sitting there. Ewwww.
Earlier this spring, my AP English class read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley as one of their literature circle book options. At the end of the book they each do a tic-tac-toe project. It’s a cool idea, borrowed from a colleague; I have a grid with nine project options, and students draw a tic-tac-toe line though the middle square. The middle project option is to give a one-minute book talk to the class. The other two options are a visual (poster, model, brochure…) and a writing activity.
One student made a model for BNW, and as simple as it was, it was arrestingly effective. He took a mason jar, dropped in a little naked baby doll he got at Dollar Tree, and filled the container with clear corn syrup. This gave the baby an eerie scientific floating look, to represent the test tube nature of the children created in this futuristic society. It was so easy to create, but so creative that he absolutely got an A.
This model was my favorite; I kept it on my desk, and my students – particularly my freshmen – would stare at it, and some would ask, “Is it real?” I patiently explained that it was illegal to keep fetuses in jars for art work, and then we’d get into a discussion about the book that inspired it. More students read that book as a result of that floating baby in a jar than probably those who were actually assigned it.
The irony is that the student who made this jar delivered an extremely impassioned book talk on why NO ONE should EVER read Brave New World ever again. He hated the book. It was so funny to report to him each time a new convert would fall in love with the book’s dystopian messages as a result of his project.
I did not pack the jar terribly well, and at some point, the copy paper box in which it lived – between my Texas classroom, my car, my garage, the moving truck, the storage unit, back in my car, to my new classroom – the glass broke, and the corn syrup leaked through the box and traveled across the floor. What. A. Mess.
I sort of covered the spill with dry paper towels (they’re still renovating our bathrooms on my floor) so Spartacus wouldn’t accidentally crawl through it again, and I will return to attempt to clean it up tomorrow. I mourn the loss of my baby-in-a-jar; it was a wonderful momento of my fun teaching down south.
I am now three weeks from the first day of school, and trying to construct new curriculum and improve on my old stuff. I promised several of my former co-workers lesson plans for some professional development sessions I had planned to teach before I moved. We just put an offer on a house here, then countered, then had to walk away. It’s been a crazy week back home again in Indiana, but as my mother has reminded me several times this week, prayer goes a long way to making sticky situations seem…more manageable.
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