the fifth grader who meowed


5th grader who meowed

Here’s one to add to the “things they didn’t teach me in college” file. It was the first day of my second year teaching.  I was abounding with the confidence of having survived my first year and was thrilled when my new fifth graders came pouring into my portable. The students, still in first day honeymoon mode, were quiet little angels working on their morning work. All of the students but one. I’ll call him Timothy. Timothy was crawling beneath the desks. Yes crawling. And meowing like a cat.

I’m a big fan of the ‘ignore it’ and it will go away technique for many of the annoying classroom behaviors. And I ignored this. Not because I was a savvy classroom manager hoping it would go away but because I truly had no idea what else to do. Why didn’t my college professors tell me what to do when there is a ten year old on hands and knees pretending that he is a feline? Fortunately, because of the aforementioned honeymoon phase, the other students really didn’t do more than make nervous eye contact with each other and stifle a few giggles.

Even more fortunately, it did go away. Timothy joined the class in working on his morning work. I made a mental note that I needed to check this kid’s file ASAP. As soon as I dropped my class off for PE, I sidestepped the typical meet with your team and talk about how the first day is going chatter, and I headed for the student record room bracing myself to learn what I was dealing with here and what I would be dealing with for 10 more months.

Grabbing his folder, I flip through, and on the front page is an IEP. OK, I wasn’t too surprised. It looks like he receives some kind of extra support. Perusing the IEP, I find the results of his most recent IQ test, and I was in for the surprise of a lifetime. 150 folks. His IQ is 150. To put it in perspective, 100 is average and 130 is considered gifted in Florida. Less than 1 percent of the population have a 150, and my crawling, meowing, little darling has an IQ higher than most of the world. The IEP was written for him as a gifted student.

Timothy went on to be one of my most memorable students. We did a biography project where students dressed up like a famous person, and the person he chose was Frank Abagnale Jr., the subject of the movie Catch Me If You Can. He was exceedingly creative and funny, and I enjoyed having him in class. I can only hope he is out there somewhere putting that brain of his to good use. Or at least playing Old Deuteronomy on Broadway.

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  • Timothy sounds like he was lucky to have you as a teacher! Too many gifted kids can fly under the radar – or crawl under the desk – and their potential go unnoticed. I’m very familiar with little girls using kitty language but this is the first I’ve heard of a boy kitty!

    Love the blog – thanks for sharing!

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  • Katharine

    Haha; that resonates with me 🙂 My son, now 6, is gifted and whenever he is feeling nervous or shy he will speak it cat language. I have heard him continue to purely miaow for up to an hour; even when people are teasing him for it. I like that he figures out his own strategies for dealing with things….this is just one of them. It is not as frequent now as he and I have worked on other strategies for coping with shyness….but from time to time it does make an appearance 🙂

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