I would have thought that after almost 10yrs working as a substitute teacher I would have heard every known excuse to spend a few extra minutes away from the classroom outside of the scheduled lunch and recess breaks. The need to use the bathroom or see the nurse is usually the most common. I am moderately lenient to most requests but they need to give me a creditable reason.
So what should I make of a fifth grader's request: "Can I take my break now?"
I'm thinking, that's one I hadn't heard before. I check the lesson plan notes and there isn't anything about "special needs" for anyone in class but this was a late assignment in that I didn't get the call until about 9:30am this morning.
He's not struggling with the class work. If anything, he's already ahead of the class and bored that the rest of the class hasn't caught up yet.
I need more information.
Me: Why do you need a break? Didn't we just get back from lunch a short time ago?
Kid: I get a break when I need it.
Me: Why do you get a break? Are you on some kind of medication that requires rest? Are you supposed to go see a school specialist during break? Are you stressed?
Kid: I get to have a break every day whenever I need one.
I'm thinking this kid is yanking my chain. The class has been pretty good, working the lessons, cooperative, friendly and mellow. I'm having a good time and can't see why this kid could be "stressed". So, I push a bit farther.
Me: Where do you take these breaks and what do you do?
Kid: Sometimes I just sit on the bench outside, sometimes I run around the track.
Me: The school allows you to run on the track unsupervised during class time? I don't think so.
Kid: Yea, they do, so can I go?
Now, I sure he's yanking my chain and I decide to call his bluff.
Me: I can't let you go outside the classroom unsupervised because I'll get fired. Why don't I call down to the office and have someone come here to go out with you for your "break"? What do you think?
(I'm pretty sure the last thing this kid wants is an audience with the principal trying to explain why he's giving me this C***&Bull story just because his teacher is out of the room. I'm pretty sure he will discover his need for a "break" at this time has suddenly passed and decline my generous offer for a supervised break.)
Kid: (shrugs his shoulders) OK!
Me: You sure?
Kid: Yea, I need a break.
I make the call, and to my amazement, they don't hesitate to have me send him down!
Now who's looking incredibly perplexed?