Recently, it has been so unbearably cold here in good ole' Minneapolis. Last year, I did not mind the cold so much because the only time I was exposed was walking to and from my car into a heated building. But as a kindergarten aide, I spend a considerable amount of time walking outside with 21 kindergarteners in the cold. They are still learning how to walk in a line without weaving, stopping to touch the snow, jumping on ice chunks, or running on icy paths. These behaviors alone require me to be patient, but when the wind is biting my cheeks and freezing my nostrils, I have even less patience.
One of the daily walks we take is through an area known as "the wind tunnel." No matter if there is wind in the weather forecast or not, this tunnel seems to capture and produce its own wind. Add to that wind chills of below 0, and this tunnel becomes suffocating and a person can hardly breathe moving through it. The kids are always perplexed when we walk through this tunnel and even more so on blistering cold windy days. On these days, they move more like drunk cattle might walk--weaving back and forth. Hats fly off. Scarves quickly become hazards whipping against their faces. The kids start screaming surprised by the air gusts. I try to keep my cool and "herd" them through the wind tunnel. "Keep walking. Look forward. Don't touch the snow. Stay in the line" I shout out.
"Wawawawa" is all they hear. Sometimes I want to run away from them at these moments and get out of the tunnel so I can catch my own breath and perhaps my sanity as well.
I am still trying to figure out how to "motivate" the kids not to touch the snow or go off the shoveled path into the snow banks on the sides of the path. I threaten them with moving them down a behavior level or having them miss computer class. My threats do not really work even after being enforced. Until spring, it's going to be a long, freezing, breathless winter with these kiddos.