Thursday, January 19, 2012

Occupational hazard: Pencil Stabbings

Who would have thought these were so dangerous?

Sometimes Kindergarten teachers get black eyes. Or one black eye. One very painful black eye. Or at least that was the case for me yesterday after I was stabbed in the eye with a pencil. Before you get too worried, I'd like to take a moment to clarify. This was not an actual stabbing per se - more of an extremely hard accidental poke.

Rewinding to yesterday morning about ten o'clock. Our literacy block curriculum is structured so that there is a mini lesson then the students either complete partner centers related to literacy skills or they work in a guided practice group, then after 20 minutes the groups switch. Both my co-teacher and I lead a guided practice group simultaneously. Yesterday, my group was practicing vocabulary words by reading a story, discussing their meaning and how they were used in a story, and then copying this week's words onto small index cards. The cards are bound by a ring and allow the students to have a "pocket resource" of words they need to know in Kindergarten.

While we were completing the activity, I was also taking time to work individually with each child. I am attentively listening to the child sitting next to me on my right as she shows me that she knows all of the words on her ring. Then, things got interesting.

I have a student who has some unusual tendencies. For example, he is extremely large for his age and very clumsy. His social development is not quite where we'd like to see it - he is extremely clingy with teachers but aggressive with other students, and cries anytime he is touched by anything (even if someone accidentally bumps him with their jacket sleeve as they're putting their coat on.) He also has a tendency to flap his arms and has an extremely difficult time controlling his body.

While I am working with the student on my right, this other student is sitting on my left writing down his Word Wall Words. Then, he flapped his arms. For whatever reason, his pencil was upside down so the point was sticking up. Well...he flapped his arms so that the hand with the upside down pencil struck me right below my eye.

Graphically put, he hit me so hard that the skin at the corner of my eye was bleeding and the pencil actually pushed inward, damaging the lower and rear of my eye. This caused immediate significant pain.

Had I been anywhere else I probably would have cried like a baby. But because I am in charge of eighteen five year olds, I was able to give my group instructions on how to finish the activity and get a worksheet for them to start. Thank goodness for my co-teacher because I was able to leave the room in under five minutes of the incident and run to the school nurse's room. She was able to give me gauze to stop the bleeding and an ice pack and I was able to take some time to rest for a few minutes.

My class was ready for lunch when I returned and after recess, they go to special. While they were gone, I put my head down on a desk and closed my eyes for a few minutes. My principal checked on me to make sure I was ok and we laughed about the incident. Not all Kindergarteners are ready for pencils!

I taught math when my students returned from their special. I'd had a headache but I noticed when trying to read a math riddle from our math big book that I was having trouble focusing on the words and reading them. They were super blurry and this is a big book - you know the special teacher books that are like a foot a half by two feet so the words are pretty large.

Corey was off work yesterday because he was sick so I texted him and asked if he could take the train to the city where I work so he could drive the car back. Luckily he was running a little early because while I was serving snack, I started to feel horrible. I had severe pressure on my eye and I was getting dizzy because everything I saw out of the right eye was normal and everything I saw out of the left was completely blurry. We have a special social skill building program on Wednesdays so another teacher comes into my class for the last hour of the day. It was only about thirty minutes until that time, so my co-teacher offered to lead the social studies activity I had planned and get the students packed up if I would run back up to check in with the nurse (we were out of band-aids in our classroom anyway and Kindergarteners love band-aids and need them for everything).

I hadn't looked in the mirror for a couple hours so I didn't know what my eye looked like. It was swollen and had already turned black underneath. My principal stopped in and told me I needed to leave and go see a doctor right then. Luckily, at this point Corey was only minutes away.

We called a couple optometrists who couldn't see me so late in the day even for an emergency but were able to get in right away at an urgent care center my principal recommended. I failed the vision test on my left eye (both are normally 20/20).  I have a scratch on my actual eyeball in addition to the cut on the skin below it. My vision should improve as the scratch heals and as the swelling decreases. A piece of carbon was removed from the skin below my eye and I'm taking antibiotic eyedrops.

I guess I'm lucky the point struck below my eye and didn't scratch my cornea or anything serious. A pencil in the eye is something that you imagine would be very painful but in reality, seems highly unlikely that you'll ever have to experience. I was in complete shock for probably ten seconds after it happened. Its still pretty painful and pretty swollen and very black but my vision is starting to improve. Having student taught in third grade, interned in fifth, and then taught first grade my students have usually been pretty proficient in using pencils and other writing utensils. They've even all been capable of using scissors in a safe manner. I definitely wasn't expecting to be struck by a pencil this year. But honestly it makes sense. I have quite a few students who still don't hold them the right way and a few others who have serious problems controlling their bodies. I guess I know some basic skills our class needs to work on - with an emphasis on safety!


  1. Poor you, Elizabeth! What a fluke accident! The crazy things teachers go through day to day!

  2. Oh my! I am cringing at this. I hope it gets better soon. Yikes.

  3. Yikes, Elizabeth! I'm soo soo sorry! I hope you're feeling much better today!

  4. eye hurts right now! Bless your heart, especially for toughing it out in front of your kiddos! When I did my student teaching I had a HUGE metal bookshelf fall and hit me on the head. It was horrible and I did have tears but no real crying! I hope you are better and on the road to recovery! =)

    Heather's Heart

  5. You brave woman! You must have the energy of a thousand. Jus being a kindergarten mom helper wiped me out!

    Thank you for dropping by to enter the cupcake goodies give-away. It is always nice when someone visits. :)

  6. GREAT post, girl! I'm new here and I LOVE the look and feel of your site so far! Off to check out some more posts. Have a wonderful week! xo