* Survival Tip #1: Never paint fish during a formal observation

I learned this one the hard way.  To set the stage, I was teaching a self-contained class of kids with behavior and emotional disabilities.   We were in the middle of a fantastic unit on Japanese culture when it was time for the principal to complete one of several observations. The students had all created miniature gardens, a parent had shown us how to make everything origami, and we were even learning some Japanese.  It was a natural step for me to showcase our fish painting project when the principal scheduled the observation. I bought a large, whole fish and special rice paper. When the principal arrived, the kids were sitting at a table with their paper, black paint, and paintbrushes.  As the principal and my assistants looked on, the students took turns painting a side of the fish and pressing it down on the paper to create a unique print. The prints were truly lovely.  While the fish was being passed on, each child copied their name in Japanese characters. By the time the fish got to the last student, the fish was getting pretty slippery (something I had not anticipated). Also, the last student was distracted, so he didn’t notice that the fish was coming his way. He had good reflexes, so the fish itself didn’t land in his face or something.  But as he made a last minute grab, all the guts of the fish spewed into his lap.  I was as horrified as the rest of the class, having had no idea that the fish still had guts. Later, the gracious principal, who still gave me a decent evaluation,  asked if my assistants always laughed at me.  Want to guess my answer?

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