Through My Classroom Window

Hey all! Thanks so much for spending the semester with me and reading all about my fantastic time in student teaching. Now I am setting off into the big wide world to (hopefully) have my own classroom of little minds to work with! In case you want to read about my new adventures, you can take a peek Through My Classroom Window and see how things are going! You have been great readers and I appreciate all of your views and comments! Let’s continue the adventure together!

 

Goodbye 

All goodbyes are hard. This one was no exception. I said goodbye to my classroom teacher today. Well not exactly goodbye… We both knew it was time to leave and she said, “I know.” And I said, ” I’m walking away now.” I had to turn around because I was on the verge of completely loosing it. I did completely loose it right before I got to my car. I could hardly get my keys out because I couldn’t see. 

All of the things I could have said, had planned on saying, and I said, “I’m walking away now.” I should have said thank you a few more times. I should have told her how great she is and how much I appreciate everything she has done. I know I could not have done it without crying, though. And snot running down my face was about the last thing I wanted to have happen in front of her.

 I know it isn’t the end. We promised to stay in touch and share ideas and talk about our students. I am sure I will email her questions and she will answer them fabulously like she always has. I’ll send her goofy pictures of me on vacation and she will do the same. People like her are hard to find and I am so very lucky to have placed in her room. I am ready for the next adventure and I am so thankful I have someone like her standing behind me. 

Since my student teaching is over and I am no longer a student teacher, this blog will come to an end. I am sure another will pop up in its place. I haven’t decided yet what to call it but I will let you all know as soon as I do. It has been a real treat working with the people I did. My classroom teacher thinks I can do this and she is way smarter than I am so I guess I will take her word for it. I guess we will find out. 

So long, student teaching. So long, kindergarten 2015-2016. Hello, new adventures! 

Trial By Fire: Round 2

This morning started out like any regular morning. I came in, got supplies ready, and started working on the morning message. My classroom teacher stepped out so I answered the phone when it rang. It was the teacher from across the hall. She had gotten sick and had called in only minutes before. She had no plans written out for a sub. I assured her I would get something ready for her. At this point, my students were already all in the room and my teacher had gone over to the other room to get things ready. The office called and told me I would be subbing. I sent one of my students down to tell my classroom teacher that we needed to switch. She walked out and said she already knew because she was the one who called and told them I could sub. I am so ecstatic that she would do that for me. Apparently, she actually thinks I can do this. If she wasn’t afraid to stick her neck out for me, she must think I am doing a pretty good job. 

Anyway, I went over and had no plans, don’t know all of the students’ names, and have no idea what most of the things on her overview schedule mean. My classroom teacher came over and gave me supplies for what I did yesterday  with my class. I managed to get through the day with no planning problems which is really nice considering I like to plan way far in advance. Now that plans were made, I had to actually get the students to listen and do what I asked. Things were a little rough with one student in particular at first. I had delt with him during tutoring but that was only an hour. I now had to do it all day. The first hour was rough but I stayed on his case. The rest of the day was great. Barely any interruptions from him. I told him I was leaving a good note for the teacher and let him read it and stick it on the the other note I had written about a not so great student… Oh, that not so great student…

It wasn’t until the afternoon that this one lost control. He was playing at the drinking fountain and I told him it was time to leave and that he had plenty of time to get a drink so he could not have one now. We made it two feet from the classroom door before he sat down and sobbed. I told him if he got some work done he could have a drink but not until he did some work. He sat and sobbed. I stood in the doorway in full panic! What do you do with a student who refuses to move? I knew I couldn’t leave him in the hall bedside if I turned my back he would run off or the principal would walk by and see him crying in the hall. Standing across the hall was another teacher and I knew I had to move him while she was there to witness. I put my hands flat on his back and scooted him into the classroom. The other teacher grabbed the door and shut it behind me. He sat on the floor and cried but at least he was in the room. I left him crying so that I could get the other students going on their work. This was not the end of the drama with this one. 

He managed to sit and I helped him get started on his work. He got three done and I said, “thank you for doing some work. Would you like to get a drink now?” Rookie mistake… He went out in the hall and a moment later I felt like something wasn’t right.  I walked out in the hall… He was no where to be seen. There is a drinking fountain right next to the door and he wasn’t there. I sent the classroom aide from my classroom, who was helping me in the room I was subbing in( and thank God for her. I do not know what I would do without her!) to find him. He had gone to the bathroom without asking. And like every bad infomercial selling anything, that’s not all! Later, he was running in the room and crashed into another student. He sobbed again. At this point I couldn’t handle it and I looked at his face there were no marks or bumps and I just let him sob on the floor until he got up and banged it on something else. The aide took him to the nurse. 

I really enjoyed this opportunity because I got to see how the other teacher does things in a very firsthand way. There were many things I loved about how she did things in her room. I also got to know another group of kids. I had been in the room for recess before but spending all day in the room was interesting. They are different from my class but no less complex. 

I missed my class a whole lot today. I didn’t have much time to think about what they might be doing but when they saw me in the hall and called out for hugs my heart melted. Then on the way out to recess, quite a few of them stopped in the room to say hello. It was really nice to think that they missed me and cared enough to come see me. I had recess duty so I saw quite a few more while I was out there. 

The very best part of the day was when my classroom teacher popped in while I was cleaning up at the end of the day and said, “Well, you’re still alive!” She had a really big smile on her face. I almost cried because how can you not want to cry when one of the most fantastic teachers you have ever met looks proud of you? It was also nice to have her there to talk with at the end of the day. It was my first day of paid teaching where if I failed no one was there to step in and fix it. I think I can do this and if I can’t, well I know I have someone I call and ask for help! 

Smiling, Because Nothing is Better Than This 

The other day I saw some friends from my classes I haven’t seen for a while. While I was chatting with one, she mentioned how student teaching kind of makes us into another version of our classroom teacher. I laughed and we exchanged stories of students who were now accidentally calling the teacher by our name instead of the other way around. It got me thinking about how lucky I have been to be in my teacher’s room and how if I ever get to be half as fantastic as she is I will be a great teacher. 

Friday was a rough day and naturally I haven’t stopped replaying the events over and over in my mind. Mostly, I replay the conversation my classroom teacher and I had about rough days and students who are tough to love. She told me some real horror stories of life in the classroom. I won’t repeat them here. They are not my stories to tell. You have to believe me that being a teacher is not just playing all day. This is not an easy job and even when you love it, it is incredibly difficult. My respect for my classroom teacher’s ability and dedication grows with every day. 

I cannot help but think it is more than coincidence that the two conversations I have mentioned happened in such close proximity to each other. Maybe I won’t be so terrible after all. Maybe just knowing that other people don’t always know what to do will help me see that I can actually do this. Having been taught by someone so incredible; I know what a great teacher looks like, how it feels to be taught by her, and that even she doesn’t always know what to do either. I have something to strive for and even though I have a tough time believing that she ever struggles with anything, I know she means it when she says she does. 

There is a whole lot I have left to learn. I have five school days until I graduate and nineteen until the end of the school year. I know I can learn more in those nineteen days in her room than I have the last three and a half years of lecture. Seeing someone who does their best every day even when it hurts and even when it doesn’t feel like the best is truly an inspiring thing.  

I can smile today even when yesterday was terrible because I know that there is someone out there who smiles today even though their yesterday was worse by far than mine. I can be a great teacher because I have learned from the best. From twenty years of her mistakes and her successes, I have learned. I am starting off ahead of the game because of her. I may have days where I fall behind but the next day is a new day. I will smile because I am doing what I love and I have learned how better to do what I love from someone who’s love for teaching is obvious in everything she does. Tomorrow I go in with a smile because being there is so much better than being anywhere else. 

That is Not a Good Idea

Last week my classroom teacher borrowed a bunch of Mo Willems books from the teacher down the hall. We stood/ sat at her desk and read them all silently until I came to That is Not a Good Idea. If you haven’t read this you should. It is absolutely one of my new favorites. If you haven’t read the book this is the spoiler alert! Stop reading this post now! Go watch a read aloud on youtube before you read this. It is not a good idea for you to continue.

If you have read this book, then you know about the surprise ending. When I read it to myself last week, I almost cried I was laughing so hard. So I read it to my students today. I read it with a lot of emotion (thanks to my days of high school theatre) and my students were really into it. They were leaning forward and taking deep breaths to try and stay calm while I read. The anxiety was clear on their faces. They were so worried about the silly character who they thought was doing things that were not a good idea. I had one girl and one boy I thought might faint they were breathing so hard!

When I got to the surprise ending, I didn’t show the students the picture. I asked them, based on the words, what they thought happened. Every single one was convinced that it ended one way. I then asked them if they wanted to see the picture. They were so excited they could hardly stand it. I made a few worried faces and glanced from the page to them and finally turned the book so they could see the picture.

There was a brief but noticeable silence. The students faces were all blank as they looked at the picture revealing the surprise ending. I honestly thought they would try to argue with me that the story could not have ended that way. I had to explain to them what happened because so many sat in disbelief.

I have always wanted to be a teacher because of moments like that one. I especially want to teach younger students because disequilibrium is so easy to see on their faces. I can teach spelling and addition all day but things that change the way students look at something are what really matter. From the impressively profound, like when students realize they can make a difference in the world, to the slightly less life-altering, like processing a surprise ending in a story; that is one of the reasons I love teaching. I love seeing that moment when new information or experiences clash with old expectations and students have to make a decision on whether or not they will believe what they just heard or experienced. If you have never seen this process cross a young person’s face, imagine a child sitting sideways on a chair and leaning back only to find that the back rest is on their side and in a split second realize they are going to fall. That is the face I saw today when I revealed the surprise ending to the students.

The read aloud ended with me explaining that the chicks were eating the fox in their soup. From the back of the rug, as I said this, one student simply says, “Eww…” After the surprise ending all this student could manage to assimilate or accommodate was that the duck was eating fox soup… I really love an author with a slightly twisted sense of humor!

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…

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!