Trouble with Snack Crackers

 

Today was a strange day. I am not sure how to feel about it because most of the kids were excellent! There was just one instance that has me reeling…

One of my students got incredibly angry over the fact that we didn’t eat the teacher’s snack or the peanut butter crackers the birthday girl’s grandmother brought in. We just didn’t have time to drink a juice and eat apple sauce, swiss cake rolls, and peanut butter crackers. Two of the four was plenty! The birthday girl didn’t even mention the crackers. What drove me the most crazy was that they student who was angry should have had no idea there were peanut butter crackers in there because the bags were closed and neither I nor the birthday girl mentioned it. It drives me nuts when kids do things like that. I say at least five times a day, “Is that yours?… Then should you be touching it?” Because I cannot handle it when kids mess with things that do not belong to them. I know they are kids and kids do that but it is the end of kindergarten and we should have learned that by this point.  That is how you end up with a kid in the nurse for stapling his finger or taking things out of the room that do not belong to them.

The worst part is that he was so angry about it! He was yelling at me because I wouldn’t pass them out. First that he shouldn’t have known they were there and second that he felt he had a right to yell at me over crackers makes me quite concerned for his future! I cannot get it out of my mind. I have been yelled at by kids before about even worse things. I have had kids say that I was treating them like animals because I sent them to their rooms to play while I was trying to fix them dinner. That was by far the worst experience I have ever had when it came to kids. This whole yelling-over-crackers thing just brought all of issues I have with entitlement up.

Everyone feels entitled to things and frankly most of don’t even deserve the things we have already! We work as little as possible to get as much as we can. We expect other people to just hand us things because we want them. The worst part is that we get angry when someone says no. No one earned peanut butter crackers in the classroom today. The terrible thing I keep thinking about is that this student probably went home and told his family that I only gave the class one snack instead of three and they probably reinforced that that was unfair. Why else would he have acted like that? Kids are, at 6 years old, entirely a product of their environment. When entitlement and atrocious behavior is reinforced why should they should stop doing it or think they deserve whatever they want?

That is what happened with the two kids who told me I was treating them like animals (something no 4 and 6 year old would say unless they heard it from someone else…). They screamed at me for 45 minutes about how much they hated me and how terrible I was until their mother walked in. She blamed me. She told me I should have just made them a peanut butter sandwich instead of an actual dinner then this would not have happened. When I gave my two weeks notice that I was quitting after a similar thing happened a few days later, she told the kids I was leaving because I didn’t like them. This was three years ago and I still feel sick over the whole thing. I know I made the right choice but I absolutely hate that she made it my fault in the eyes of her kids. They never had to take responsibility for their actions.

Until today, I had trouble understanding when teachers talked about students they had that went to jail and how they saw it coming in kindergarten or first grade but I get it now. I hate that I get it now. It is wild to think that screaming at me over not getting crackers that no one in the class got will probably lead this person to do the same to someone else like a police officer and get into real trouble.

I really need talk with my classroom teacher about this! I am all shaken up and panicky inside over it. I have been yelled at by much more powerful and important people yet this particular incident has really bothered me. I should have been a good day. The other students behaved really well…

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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!

Miss Haley and the Frog

This may sound like the beginning of your average princess-kisses-the-frog, frog-turns-into-a-prince, they-live-happily-ever-after kind of story. I promise you it is not your average fairy tale and I have never in my life put my face anywhere near a frog… voluntarily. This the not the story of a princess but rather a very curious student teacher who finds herself with a front seat full of live animals she would rather not handle once they are grown…

Once upon a time, there was a student teacher named Miss Haley. Miss Haley was the kind of lady who loved exploring the world and learning new things. She often bit off more than she could chew when it came to these learning adventures. She had once bought seeds to grow a Venus Flytrap and that lead her on an expensive journey through the life and times of carnivorous plants. Unfortunately, those seeds did not grow but she did end up with a live flytrap that she now has to touch tiny worms in order to feed but that is a story for another time. Back to our current story.

Miss Haley’s class recently began studying the life cycle of frogs. Frogs are not her favorite animal. In fact, Miss Haley doesn’t really like any animals that can touch her on their own free will. She likes fish and going to the zoo because it is a great way to study something and learn about it without having what she is looking at make any sudden movements and touch her. Miss Haley dislikes frogs because no matter which direction they are facing they can always jump at you and touch you. But Miss Haley is a curious person and curious people often find themselves in exactly the situation they would rather not be in.

Her curiosity and the curiosity of her students prompted her to make the decision to volunteer to remove frog eggs from her father’s pond and bring them into the classroom. She was all ready, with a scoop and a little clear bucket, to fish out some eggs and bring them to school for the remaining few days the students would be studying the life cycle of frogs. When she arrived at her father’s pond, the eggs were gone! “Where could they have gone?” Thought Miss Haley. So she called to her father; who rushed outside to see what was the matter. Miss Haley explained that the eggs were missing. Her father looked into the pond.

He told her, “The eggs are gone because they have hatched! Look closely at that rock. You can see a tadpole.”

So, Miss Haley laid on her belly on the edge of their deck and leaned toward the water until her nose almost touched the surface (Miss Haley should have been wearing her contacts that day). When she spotted the tadpole a new idea popped into her head, “I will take tadpoles into my classroom instead of eggs. The students will think that is quite interesting.”

So Miss Haley’s father scooped out some tadpoles and Miss Haley gathered some rocks for them to swim with. She then leaned over the edge of the pond again to dig through the weeds to see if she could find some not-yet-hatched tadpoles to bring in with the hatched ones. She found a small clump of eggs and placed them into the tank with the swimming ones. As she continued to swirl the weeds around, she caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of her eye. She looked over…

IMG_3075

A massive, slick, slimy, greenish-black, beady-eyed bull frog had popped its head above the surface not far from where she lay. She nearly choked herself on the wire around the pond there to keep unwanted predators out when she sat up quickly trying to get away from it. It did not move a muscle but Miss Haley’s heart was pounding faster than ever before. I suppose curious people who put their faces that close to ponds with live animals in them would have a near-heart-attack experience every once-in-a-while.

She called to her father who brought the big net. He caught the big frog with the big net in one quick scoop. The frog flopped and hopped in the net but could not seem to escape.

IMG_3090Miss Haley knew she could not take in the large frog for her students to see, so she decided to take several videos of the frog to show the students. The frog eventually escaped during the taping of one of the videos.

Now, Miss Haley had her pail full of tadpoles and a few frog eggs to take into school with her. The drive over was perilous and a bit wet. The tadpoles were bit shaken up as was Miss Haley, nervous she would be cleaning dead swimmers out of her floor mats later that day. Everyone made it school in nearly the condition they had been in before the journey. Adventures come in all shapes and sizes, I suppose.

When she arrived at school she placed the tank in front of her classroom teacher. She told her all about the adventure she had been on and explained her excitement of being able to share the tiny things with the class.

Now, Miss Haley had fully intended to keep the tadpoles at school until Friday afternoon when she would take them back to the pond. Her classroom teacher, however, had other ideas. Long story short, the tadpoles have become a fixture in the classroom and another part of the mini-zoo that is room 14.

There was no kissing of frogs in this tale nor was it make-belief. It is, what I am sure will be, the beginning of a interesting journey I will tell the story of for the rest of my life… or at least until another adventure comes along!

A Pocket Full of Dandelions 

Today my classroom teacher was in the room all day. It was nice to have her back because the kids calmed down considerably with her there. We had our 3rd of four benchmark conferences and I am fairly sure I will be passing student teaching, which is a good feeling to have. We went over some of my portfolio stuff and I feel pretty good about that too.

I have recess duty this week and it has been nice to get outside for a little bit during the day. I think outside recess duty is one of my favorite responsibilities because I get to be outside in the sun and I get to spend time with my students. I often feel like I do not spend enough time getting to know them and talking to them. Recess duty allows me to talk with the kids who want to talk to me and it is nice to be hugged so much too!

Today at recess I had to deal with a student hitting another student. I made him sit out the rest of recess. He tried to run away from me but I eventually got to him and made him sit out. I felt a little silly chasing him around the playground so I eventually stopped and when I saw him again I went over and made him sit. My teacher suggested a slightly different approach when I asked her what I should have done. She gave some other good suggestions during the conference that I intend to put into practice over the next few weeks.

Even though making this student sit out was a major part of the day, it was overshadowed by the absolute kindness of a few of my students. At recess, four students picked my dandelions. They brought them up individually with the biggest smiles on their faces. Two of the students were ones that do things like this often but two of them were ones I did not expect this kind of behavior from. They were all so happy just to how me these flowers and each time they brought more I pulled all of the flowers out of my pockets to show them how many I had.

Little moments like that, where everyone’s day is made by the simplest of things, are one of the reasons I love working with kids so much. It was nice to be reminded of that with a pocket full of dandelions.

Bananas

Today is the third day of my ten day spring break and I am going out of my mind. I basically finished my lesson plans for the week we come back last night. Now I have nothing to do and no money (thanks University for not allowing me to work during student teaching) to do it with. Today, I have accomplished exactly nothing. I thought that a break might be nice but it turns out I only really needed a day or two. The longer I spend on break the more obvious it is that teachers do not go into teaching because we get breaks. I haven’t stopped thinking about my students or the fact that I am the teacher nearly by myself for the week after we come back. I cannot relax because I am so anxious about that yet I have nothing to do so I even more anxious! How do people manage this? Maybe a few years down the road a break like this would be nice but right now it is driving me bananas!