To quickly review telling time, I had the kids take turns drawing the hands of a clock on the board and then calling on other students to say the answer. I like moments like this, because I don’t have to do anything! This is when I noticed a boy in the middle of the room trying to look inconspicuous but doing a horrible job of it. He had red ink all around his mouth and all over his hands, and a broken pen sat in a puddle of red ink on his desk. Instead of waving it in everyone’s eyes like a normal student, though, he just sat quietly with his arms folded and a grimacing, forcefully nonchalant smile on his face.
I wanted to say something, but I figured, “This is the quietest he’s ever been! Let’s not ruin it. Besides, he’s a big boy. If he wants to wash up, he can ask me.” He didn’t. I think he was determined not to draw attention to himself. It wasn’t until the other kids finally caught on that I excused him. Because once the rest of the class knows a mess is present, you can’t get anything done until it goes away.