I try to avoid Walmart. Not only because I don’t appreciate their business model, but because I find the stores frustrating and depressing. I don’t take a hard I’m-boycotting-Walmart stance though, because I know their will inevitably be times that I decide to go to Walmart. I’m not organized enough to completely stay out of a huge 24-hour store a mile from my apartment.
At 7:00, this morning I found myself darting through the Walmart aisles looking for materials for a lesson I was to teach at 9:05. An ELL teacher asked me to prepare some activities to help her students learn to use the library. I had a Kahoot prepared to review the vocabulary I had introduced last week , and a treasure hunt designed to give them practice learning how to use the catalog and find different types of materials. I planned to hide puzzle pieces in the various locations the students would be visiting, and then once the students found the puzzle pieces and assembled their puzzles I would reward them with their “share of the treasure,” which I imagined would be chocolate coins.
Yesterday, I was collecting images for the puzzles online. I could have found random pictures in old magazines, but I decided I wanted to have pictures of cool looking libraries. Being a librarian, I couldn’t just print them out, I had to cite them as well. 15 minutes after the end of contract time, I was about to print out the pictures when I realized I was supposed to be at the dentist.
I sat in the dentist’s chair for about two hours. Afterwards, I discovered that I had left my phone at the restaurant where I had eaten dinner with my husband and parents the night before. Next, I got in a fight with my mother.
She and my dad had driven up on Saturday to go to a wedding. Their car broke down about thirty miles from the apartment. It had been towed to a repair shop near where it had broken down and was to be ready on Monday at 5 p.m. I wanted to pick up the forgotten phone before driving 30 miles in intense rush hour traffic on a hundred-degree day; my mother wanted me to take them to the repair shop first. My parents have flip phones and don’t like their GPS, so I think the idea that I wouldn’t want to drive without the phone to give me directions seemed a bit silly to her. I escalated to, “If you want me to drive you there tonight, we’re getting the phone first,” and my mother threw up her hands and said, “Fine” in the same you’re-completely-irrational, I’m-backing-away-slowly-now voice she sometimes uses with my father.
We collected the phone–not without getting lost on the way–and made our way to the repair shop. After my dad paid for the new clutch, we ate dinner at a restaurant that Yelp highly recommended, although it did–accurately– call the ambiance “divey”. My mom and I enjoyed our cheese enchiladas thoroughly. My dad did not like his carne asada. I, apparently in a better mood than I had been in the afternoon, refrained from suggesting that perhaps one should not order steak at a dive.
I drove my parents back to the shop. We said our good-byes and got into our cars. They headed south, and I headed north. I was almost home, sitting at the last light before our apartment complex, waiting to turn left. I glanced at the clock. It was just before nine. “I really should stop in the mall and pick up some chocolate coins,” I thought. “It’s right there.”
I didn’t stop. I figured I would get something in the morning.
That is how I found myself circumnavigating the Walmart at 7 a.m. I found some gum ball machine plastic rings in the party section, but no chocolate coins. I went to the candy section. No chocolate coins. I settled on Rolos. They have no nuts and are at least wrapped in gold foil.
I got to school at 7:30. At 8:10, I decided I didn’t have time to make the puzzles and abandoned that plan. I revised the instructions for the students to just collect teacher’s initials rather than puzzle pieces before making copies.
The students enjoyed the Kahoot. Based on their answers, I realized that most of them had retained very little from the vocabulary lesson last week. After a little review, one of their classroom teachers put them in groups, and we had them up and about working on the treasure hunt. I asked the technology teacher to help, so we had a good ratio of adults to students.
The students were engaged and cooperative until the very end. They completed nine tasks. The tenth one was to find books they wanted to read, and check them out. At that point, some of the students declined. I dangled the treasure. They were unmoved. Eventually one of the teachers insisted that they get books and their prizes so they did.
It was kind of cool that for most of the students, the reward seemed to be the challenge of the treasure hunt, and not the candy. It was frustrating that some of them didn’t want a book, though. I’ll have to keep working on that. And I think I have learned a valuable lesson, which is that I don’t have to go Walmart before school, no matter how cute I think my idea is.