Crying in Front of the Teacher

Today was up and down and up and down… I did some pretty fun things today and managed the class completely on my own while my classroom teacher took some students to the computer lab for a test. I kept it mostly under control. I was standing at her desk helping students put fasteners on the craft we made and I looked up from the fastener to check on the students. I noticed they were all behaving (mostly) and that I was the only adult in the room. It was the first time ever I have been the only adult in the room with my students for more than a minute. It is much different than being one of three or even two teachers.

The down hit right before recess when I royally screwed up. There is a student that things are happening with that make it hard for me to figure out how to manage his behavior and I have been delegating the discipline of this student to my classroom teacher because I cannot handle it. She always seems to know exactly what to say and do to keep the fires from getting lit instead of running around like a crazy person trying to put fires out with a dixie cup like I do. I know I cannot expect to be perfect but I do expect myself to be perfect.

Then at recess things brightened up a little. I had a student come up to me and complain about how she fell down and was getting a bruise. She stood in front of me and whined. I asked her if she what bruises meant. She just stared at me. I said, “bruises mean you did something fun. It may not have worked out but in the meantime it was fun.” She laughed but kept whining. I showed her this giant bruise on my arm (after taking my coat off and then my sweater because I could not pull either sleeve up high enough to show the bruise). I told her how I got it, which is a pretty funny story. I was trying to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and instead of turning into the bathroom I turned the other way and smacked my arm on the stair rail. She thought it was the funniest thing ever and went off to tell all of the other students in the class.

My last mistake was at the end of the day. My teacher was out of the room testing. A student decided he was not going to participate and was loudly saying that school was stupid and he hated everything. I gave him two choices you can do a math game with the class or a worksheet I wrote up on the spot. He refused to do either. I had several students say they did not want to participate in the game because the other student was not. I told them since he was not participating in the game he was doing other work that he was not going to like. When I told this to my teacher, she said that was my mistake. Saying that he wouldn’t like it. The other students participated but the one did nothing. He and I are going to do the problems I wrote down for him on Monday instead.

I feel sick inside that I only have five days left before I am officially done with student teaching and still cannot  manage the class. I honestly want to throw up thinking about it. I nearly lost it in front of my teacher after school. I asked what I should do. I know she was trying to make me feel better and distract me from feeling so awful by telling stories of the awful things that have happened to her (none of which you can compare my issues with because she has had real fire-crackers). The closest I came to having tears run down my face was when I told her that I thought she always knew what to do. She asked me why I thought that. I answered honestly, “because it always works for you.” She always seems like she knows exactly what to say and when she says it things happen. I told her that I have a hard time finding a happy-medium because giving up any ground makes me unhappy. I just feel like I should be better at this by now. Things shouldn’t fall apart on my watch. The second she speaks they are quiet and ready to listen.

I have written about how hearing those horror stories of student teachers coming in and wrecking all sense of order in the classroom and how afraid I am of doing just that. I think I might be. I think I might have done something to mess things up and I cannot figure out what it is. Everyone tells me I am too hard on myself but apparently if I am not honest with myself no one will be.

So I nearly lost it in front of my teacher today. I know she could tell I was on the edge. She is so fantastic and observant I am sure she can practically read my mind. Only one tear managed to slip out in the 45 minute conversation we had so I guess it could have been a worse day. I could have full out sobbed. That would have been too embarrassing to recover from.

Conference and Progress: Two Wonderful Words

Today was another one of those days where I was thrown into the deep end of the pool and had to sink or swim. My teacher texted me at 4:40 this morning telling me she could not make it to school. The good news is that my stomach didn’t drop like rock as it has in similar, past situations. I know I can do this now and after the conference this week, I knew what I needed to work on. I went into today confident that I could manage or, at the very least, live through the day without any major disasters.

Upon arriving at school. I checked on the animals in our ever-growing mini zoo. I then looked over the plans for the day so that I could adjust for the things my teacher had taken home with her the night before that were still at her house. I made a list of activities that could fill the leftover time at the end of the day. They were things that we have fallen behind on and would be good to catch up on. I was ready. Then I was thrown for a loop.

Apparently, it was one student’s birthday today… I had no idea. Also her family brought in treats that neither the teacher nor I had been made aware of prior to this morning. I already had a treat for my students but I guessed they could have both.

The morning went fairly well. I did send one student to the office for a time out. I feel kind of bad for sending him because I hate resorting to that but I have to do what have to do sometimes. He refused to stop making faces at another student. I have been working on positively praising my students instead of just reprimanding them. The first thing I did was praise the other student for not making faces back and I explained how happy that made me. Then I turned to the other student.

He is so stubborn. Unfortunately for him, I am way more stubborn. He absolutely refused to turn around. I took his shoulders and gently moved him to face the front. He turned right back around when I went back to the front. I asked the aide if she would take him to the timeout room. He refused to move. She grabbed his hand and took him out. I just don’t know what to do when moving his clip doesn’t work. I guess I need to ask my teacher what I should do!

Anyway, that was taken care of by the police officer and the other students had a fairly good day. One student went home sick and another student cried all afternoon because he felt sick but the nurse did not say he had a temperature and she gave him pepto. There was nothing else she could do. He was really fine and I think he just wanted to go home because the other kid I sent home was his friend. I don’t know what I could have done better. I will have to ask about that too!

We didn’t get through everything planned. That is something my teacher suggested I work on; not stressing when I don’t get everything done. We talked about that at our conference as well. I am so used to having to be spot on when it comes to time because when I did college practicums we had to exactly fill that time we were given and not leave anything out from our plans. When I told my teacher what we didn’t get to, she was really nice about it and explained that it would be very easy to do one more day of frogs on Monday. I am grateful she is so fantastic and sweet!

We had the girl’s birthday treat. I laid out to the students that if we got through everything we could have the snack and if we didn’t the classroom teacher’s snack would have to wait. We did not get through everything. They were up running around while they were supposed to be coloring. Part of it was my fault because I had nothing for them to do while the sub and I helped the other students put their frog craft together. We did not even finish the frog craft! I knew though, that we had to get to the birthday treats so we did that instead of finishing the activity.

One of the things I think I will struggle with once I have my own classroom is what students should do when they finish activities before other students. My professors alway talk about how having things for students to do when they are finished is important and helps reduce undesirable behaviors. Our classroom has no system for what students should do when they finish. My teacher has little problem with the students because she has already established her expectations and has made it clear to the students that she sees everything they are doing and expects them to not goof around. I haven’t made it there yet. I have learned my lesson time and time again when I second guess her methods and I am sure I will put my foot in my mouth over this one too. We will see.

After I graduate, I am going to stick around the school and help out. Our aide has a different schedule and things are kind of hectic at the end of the year anyway. At out conference, my teacher asked if I was going to stay around until the end of the year just to make sure she did not plan anything she needed me for. My teacher suggested I should visit other classrooms during that time and learn about those procedures, rules, schedule, and so on. I have often wondered about the other teachers’ procedure and such because I have seen a little of it when I sat in other rooms during inside recess.

Today was a bizarre day. I really need to talk this through with my classroom teacher but I do not want to bother her after her stressful day. I have the sick feeling I got at the beginning of last week when I had to send red notes home for the first time. At least I made some progress after out conference!

Hiding in the Teacher’s Lunchroom

It finally happened to me. Well not exactly to me but about me… The past week I have sent home a lot of notes for inappropriate behavior at school. All last week I panicked over the idea of a parent confronting me about their child’s behavior. I worried that they would be angry with me for “getting their child in trouble” instead of realizing that the student’s behavior was what got them into trouble. I was up at night praying that I wouldn’t have a parent in my classroom angry with me in the morning. I worried for a week about parents wondering why I had any right to punish their child because I am not the paid teacher. Friday’s phone call from a parent must have been a test run. And today, there was the real thing…

I was in the middle of dealing with another student’s behavior when the aide called down the hall to me. I was standing in the hall with a student who had purposely left his behavior note in the classroom and then was blatantly lying about how he already had one. From a little ways down the hall I heard the teacher’s aide calling my name and I held up my hand to let her know I was busy. I finished with the student and went to see what she needed.

By the look on her face, I could tell something interesting was going on. She told me that a parent had come in to talk to me. My stomach hit the floor. I honestly thought I was going to loose my lunch on the floor in the hall. I may have been a little dramatic with my repeating of the fact that I was going to throw up but honestly; I probably could have in that moment. I knew exactly who she was talking about. That parent had been standing outside the room when I chased down the other student. It was a parent I had met before and heard several interesting stories about over my time in the room.

This was not the parent you want coming in to talk to you.

I stood there and said I was going throw up a few more times. Then the principal came around the corner and told us he was coming so the aide suggested we go into the teacher’s lunch room. So we basically just hid in there until he was gone. Not probably my most responsible adult decision ever but at least I avoided what I assumed would be a lot of yelling; yelling directly at me. I left the lunch room and went to find my classroom teacher to check in with her about it before tutoring but she was no where to be found. I went through tutoring somewhat terrified that she got yelled at because of me. When tutoring was over, I remembered that she had a conference with a parent. Thankfully, she came in after the conference and told me that the parent just wanted to make sure I was not picking on his child in particular. My teacher explained to the the parent that there were several students who were trying to see what they could get away with and he was not alone in that regard.

I am so very glad that he did not yell at her. I would have felt way worse. Now I just have to deal with the feeling that I already have a parent who thinks I am the kind of person who would pick on a student. It really bothers me as well that the student was in the room when he described that I might simply not like the student. I constantly work on making the students take responsibility for their actions and the times I made this student move his clip were times when he hit another student and admitted to doing it. I am grateful that my classroom teacher was able to get the student to admit in front of the parent that he was doing the things that I saw him do or he admitted to doing already. Kids are easy to handle because they often realize what they are doing is wrong and even if they do not own up to it the feel a little guilty. Parents are completely different.

I am still definitely afraid of parents. I am still a little afraid of being too hard on the kids. Truly though, I am too stubborn to fail at this. Today was a better day. I moved more clips today than almost any other day I have been there but things are getting a little more settled down and I think the kids are starting to get that I mean what I say. Tomorrow my classroom teacher will be back in the room full time. The past few days have been rough and I have definitely felt like I may not be able to do this but I am too darn stubborn to let 27 six year olds win. I will not loose even if I have to hide from parents in the lunchroom a few more times before I figure it out.

It’s Rough Being in Kindergarten…

Today my teacher came back… It was both good and bad. The positive part being that I was able to lighten the stone in the bottom of my stomach that formed about Tuesday of last week by telling my teacher everything that went on. The negative part was that I had to tell my teacher how terribly things went. I thought I was going to get sick all night last night and all through my drive this morning because I knew I had to tell her everything that happened. Tomorrow my teacher and I are doing our benchmark conference that was supposed to happen before spring break but got put off. I am nervous because it is nearly the last one and, after last week, I feel like I am not doing well. My advisor observed me today and she wrote the same comments that she has written every time she has observed me. She pointed out that I need to get the attention of all of the students before I talk or give directions but if I made sure every student was listening I would be calling names for the rest of the day because once I take my attention off of one student to get the attention of another student the student I was talking to first starts talking again! I feel like I am back playing chicken round up at summer camp and leaving the coup door open! I hate that on paper I haven’t really improved. More than anything I feel disappointed that I have learned so much and seen how well certain things work but cannot seem to replicate it.

I nearly lost it after school today when I was asking my teacher what I should do. I was two seconds from tears but I managed to hold it together. I am not 100% sure I will be able to hold it in tomorrow. It makes me feel sick that things are not going better. I know my classroom teacher gets it but it doesn’t make me feel any less like I can’t do it. I want so much to live up to my own expectations and the expectations I think others should have of me. Everyone is too easy on me and how will I ever get better if I don’t push myself and if others do not push me to better every day.

Everyone continues to tell me not to worry. My brain kind of gets it but my stomach is still keeping me up at night over it. I just cannot get it together. It is embarrassing that I can’t keep six year olds quiet long enough to give them two sentences of directions. What’s worse is now my teacher is at the school testing incoming kindergarteners and can simply pop in at any moment to check up on the students. The terrible thing is they are always out of control and every time she walks in the students get quiet and sit still. I know there is no quick way to get things under control the way she has them but I still feel like I should have figured it out by now. I have four weeks of student teaching left and then I am on my own. How on earth am I going to be able to do this on my own?

The teacher aide in my classroom keeps telling me things were not as bad as they have been when there has been a sub for that long and it helps a little to think that I am slightly better at this than someone who does not know our classroom procedures, routines, and discipline system at all. Being slightly better than someone who does not know how our classroom works is okay but really is not great. I just keep thinking that soon I will be on my own and I can hardly make it for a week by myself. The aide told me that I will keep learning and that making mistakes is how you learn but I cannot figure out what mistakes I am making! If I could pinpoint something that was wrong, I could focus on that and work on it. My advisor suggests that it is my inability to get the students’ attention before I teach but goodness I cannot get them to stop talking! Some of them are not even talking to each other, they are just making noise!

I cannot figure out what to do when I run out of consequences. When the student is already off the clip chart, I do not know what do or say. Obviously, moving their clip has not deterred their behavior. I wrote five red notes home today! Some of those students are ones I have already written notes home for. My classroom teacher reminds me constantly that even when I am firm and get students in trouble they will still like me. I am not very concerned that they like me; all I want is for them to not talk when they need to hear directions! Maybe that is the problem… Maybe I should be concerned about if they like me…

I have said it before and I will say it again, my classroom teacher has whatever that ‘thing’ is that separates great teachers from the just plain good ones. More and more I am realizing that she has that quality, especially now that I attempting to do this without her. I still have trouble thinking that she was ever not perfect like she is now. She makes it seem easy. I hope that eventually I will figure out that “thing” and be that fantastic at the one thing I care about being good at more than anything else.

What Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong… Did Go Wrong

Kids have a funny way of smacking you down a notch at exactly the moment you begin to think, maybe I can do this! Maybe I have figured this out. 

This morning was excellent. If my classroom teacher had walked in at any point this morning, I think she would have been impressed. I felt great going into lunch. I felt like maybe, just maybe, I could actually do this! This was the day I got control! I was excited that my classroom teacher would not come back to a big ugly mess created by me. 

Yeah… That didn’t happen. I guess this morning was like the few seconds after you pick up oobleck and it is hard but then it immediately starts running everywhere. That was as how today went, an oobleck day. The illusion of control was shattered with one single event and I spent the rest of the day trying to pick up little peices of glass and cutting my hands all over. That one single event started quite the usual way. We were lined up to go to special. Several students who probably should not have been standing together anyway were making a racket in the back of the line. I stepped to the side of the line and what did I see? Students looking down each other’s pants! 

Now, I don’t have any brothers or any male cousins close to my age that I spent time with as a child so this showing yourself off thing is kind of new to me. Girls don’t do that. So I am a little blindsided by this behavior taking place right in the middle of my room. I honestly cannot remember much of what happened until I got the other students to the gym for PE. I know there was a lot of yelling though. 

I got to the office and the students immediately started telling the secretary they were not doing it. She yelled at them and I left. I filled out referrals for the first time and wrote notes home about the situation. The problems didn’t end here, though. When the students came back to the room they apologized to me and went to their seats. The rest of the day was just a mess. Part of the problem was definitely that I had pretty much lost all hope that my classroom teacher won’t come back to a disaster that I caused. 

After school, I stood in the hall listening to the other teachers talk about their week, contemplating whether or not I could do this and the phone rang. My stomach dropped. This was exactly what I did not need. My fear was confirmed when I picked up the phone and heard an unfamiliar voice. A parent. Please God, no! Yet here I was on the phone with a parent, un- delivered by a power outage or a tunnel suddenly cutting off the signal. She asked me what happened at school. I explained what happened and she asked me if the student was allowed back at school. I don’t know where this came from so I told her I would talk with the office and find out what was going on. I went down and found out that the students received a time out and were talked to about it. I called back and the mother didn’t answer. I wanted to throw up. 

I was done. My best friend called me while I was still at school and I told her what happened and sobbed at my classroom teacher’s desk. (This was only the third time I cried at school this week and only the second time today.) The mom called back and I talked to her for a while. I had to keep telling her that I could not make certain decisions without consulting my classroom teacher. I have never felt so stupid in my entire life. I hope I said all of the right things but honestly I was running entirely on instinct not intelligence. 

I am so worried that my teacher is going to be disappointed in my inability to get through the week without so many major incidents. I know I shouldn’t be. In my head, I know that I have to have a few years of practice before I am anywhere near as good at this as my classroom teacher is and she cannot rationally expect me to be perfect at this point. My head knows that but my stomach has decided that I should feel sick about not being able to handle things on my own. I just keep replaying the whole thing and wondering what I should have done to prevent this from happening. 

I also think I lost some of my credibility with the students because I was definitely more scared than they were. I think the secretary probably could see it on my face that I was about to loose it. I am sure the three students could see it. Yesterday when I stood in the office with the student, I was stone faced. I was able to control the way my fear manifested itself. Today I know I looked pale, my voice got really squeaky, and I was a little shaky (which is always how I sound when I am stressed and can’t get it under control). 

I hope Monday and Tuesday are better. My teacher will be around on those days so I would hate for her to see me have no control! I know she knows I am figuring it out but I wish I could tell her things were great.  Instead, I have two and a half pages of things I have to tell her that went wrong. The only positive thing on the list is that there is a stack of pictures the kids have drawn for her in her. I am embarrassed that there is such a long list. 

At least it can be confirmed that Murphy’s Law is true. If nothing else comes from this experience, I can honestly say, what can go wrong will go wrong… Did go wrong! 

Miss Haley Visits the Principal’s Office

This morning started out like any other morning and went downhill quickly. I arrived at school and got everything ready. I was well prepared for the day and somewhat mentally prepared to deal with the crap-storm of behavior problems my students were going to inflict upon the classroom today. Within the first minute after the students arrived, a student handed me a red note. This was not a student that I had written a red note for so I was very surprised. The student who was supposed to take it home had given to another student to throw away. I was very unsure of what to do so I took the paper to the sub, who was a teacher for a very long time before retiring and subbing. She told me that I should have a talk with him and make him admit what he had done and ask him if the note from the librarian, that was sent home as well, made it to his family. I took the student out in the hall and talked with him. He admitted what had happened after a few tries of denying it. I told him we would have to talk with principal about what happened.
We walked down there and, while I knew what I had to do, I was terrified. As a child, the only times I ever visited the principal’s office was when I read 500 books in the first grade and when I said the pledge in the morning once every three years or so. This was not somewhere I wanted to be under these circumstances. Never have I been in trouble in the office. We had to wait a while for the principal to get to her office. The student stood and nervous-talked the whole time about video games and other nonsense. I was definitely more nervous than he was. At least he already knew he was in trouble. I know I am not supposed to feel like I am bothering other people when I have to ask them for help but I always feel like I should be able to handle my own problems.
Here I am, standing in the principal’s doorway panicking. We stood there for about ten minutes and my heart rate just kept climbing. By the time she got back, I was ready to get sick right there on the carpet outside her office. My stomach was doing flips. She spoke with the student and handed out consequences. I felt a little better after she talked with him. I talked with the principal for a few minutes and I feel a little better. I still am a little worried that she thinks I should have handled it on my own. Everyone has told me it is fine to ask for help but I feel sick when I have to bring the problems to other people outside the room. Fortunately, the class’s behavior was very much improved today after the initial issues this morning.
I really cannot wait for my teacher to get back! I am not yet ready to do this on my own. I still need her advice and want her input. I have realized, more now than ever, how truly great she is at her job. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to work with her and I am sure that three months ago I would not have been able to make it through the week alone like this. I have learned a great deal just from being around my classroom teacher. I know the last few week of my student teaching experience are going to be fantastic but I also know they are running out quickly. I know there is so much left for me to learn and I really wish I had more time to learn it!
I started this blog by stating,“One month from now I begin a journey the will either be the springboard to a great career in teaching or a total flop that leaves me in dark about what my job is really all about. 30 days until I am almost on my own in a sea of small people constantly in need of something from me. I think I am ready. I guess we will see!”

I definitely was not ready then, I might not be ready now, but one thing is for sure this was not a total flop. Four months ago, I could never have imagined how much I would learn and how amazing my experience might be. Even with everything going wrong, I know this was the best experience I could have asked for! There was absolutely a reason I am in the classroom I am in, with the teachers I am with.

Fear of Failure

In nearly all of my teaching classes, my professors have stressed the importance of classroom management and how you have to enforce your classroom teacher’s management plan. They have told horror stories of student teachers going into classrooms and causing problems because they do not stick to the plan. I am absolutely terrified that this could be me. I care a whole lot about what my classroom teacher thinks about me and my ability. Having her think I cannot do this is my biggest fear.

This week I am nearly on my own in the classroom. This is the biggest test of my ability to be a teacher that I have ever faced. I hate that there is a possibility that she will come back and things will be a disaster! I cannot figure out what I doing wrong and cannot wait for her to come back and tell me exactly where I went wrong. Wednesday cannot come fast enough!