Queen Bee

#SOL16 Day 25Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 5.11.16 PM

Our schools just began a month long engrossment with our state’s high stakes, standardized testing (MEAs). Staff are stressed out with the disruption of schedules,  technology demands, and  strict rules (no looking at student screens or student test books, two teachers in the room at all times, no other electronic devices in the room, etc).

So to add to the mayhem,  fifteen minutes into the testing yesterday afternoon we are assaulted with the “ERRR…ERRRR…ERRRR…” of the fire alarm.  We teachers know this one wasn’t planned. The kids calmly evacuate with practiced perfection. Unfortunately, part of that protocol is an admonition to take nothing with you-including coats.

It’s 24 degrees outside. I’m walking out with a group of bare armed kindergarteners.

Teachers line up their classes, take a head count, check for stragglers. And we wait.

“Is this a real fire?”

“This is just practice.”

The emergency vehicles are first heard, and then seen.  One.  Two. Three.  Four.  Four different fire and ladder trucks pull up.

“Why are the fire trucks here?”

“They need to practice too.”

A paramedic vehicle arrives. I don’t think we are going in anytime soon.

“I’m cold”.  “My ears hurt.”  “I want my coat.”

This is not good.  “Ok guys…huddle up!  Come here and snuggle up together!” 

The kids flock to my legs and waist!  I try to move the sleeveless kiddos to the center.  When I look down at these cuties I am reminded of a beehive in winter. There the bees1930574_10209305946025372_3573791951316148095_n cluster into a ball and take turns switching from the outer to inner parts of the core. They generate a heat of about 93 degrees in the dead of winter! These honeybees begin to giggle and smile. This is good.

“Hey, let’s take a picture of our huddle!”  I snap a bird’s eye view of these busy bees.

We enlist some older students with coats (they were already out at recess) to form an outer wall around our littlest. What a cool hive!

Before we know it, the all-clear bell sounds and we untangle and disband our snuggle ball. We trek back into the school. Toward the end of the day I walk to the kindergarten to share the pictures I took with their teacher.

“Hey, you’re the one who snuggled us!” Several students run over and throw their arms around me.

Now I know how the queen bee feels. I love this colony.

…You can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.

from Royals by Lorde

(Just to be clear, their teacher is the true queen bee! She is amazing.   I just got a chance to visit that hive and feel the love they give her everyday!)

9 thoughts on “Queen Bee

  1. Wow, what a day! it sounds like this experience made a huge impression on both you and those kids. What a chaotic adventure! I love the picture!

  2. I love your heart and I love the “snuggle ball”. How lucky those students are to have a queen bee to warm them!

  3. Wow! Talk about thinking on your feet and protecting those little ones. Kudos to you, Paula. You are a true teacher. I loved the way you described this entire episode. If you’re in education today, you know what that stress feels like. Can’t imagine this happening in the middle of testing. Great job!

  4. Oh this reminds me of a very similar experience – an unexpected alarm, no coats, little cold bodies and the huddle. I love the words you gave the experience.

  5. I love that you let the children huddle together! Great metaphor with the bee-hive and beautiful, strong language throughout your slice. I enjoyed the fun fact about the bees, too!

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