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! 

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Missing the Missing Miss Haley

So I took the class I was subbing in outside today to see the police officers and their police dogs. As soon as I saw where the cars were parked, I knew there would be trouble. The cars were right in front of my classroom windows. I got my sub class settle down and seated and I purposely stood behind them facing away from the windows. I had this feeling that my class was in chaos on the other side of the windows. They were. My classroom teacher told me that they were spastic over the fact that I was outside doing something without them. I feel kind of bad that they saw me having fun with another class because ultimately (at least in their minds) I belong with them. It also made me feel pretty good because they were so interested in me. 

I told my classroom teacher if she is ever having a bad day just go teach another class because the students are really excited to see you when your not in the room all day. It’s a little nice that they miss me. I guess I am making a bigger difference than I thought… I am taking these little moments like this and when they stop in the classroom to hug me on the way out to recess as signs that things are better than I often view them. Students I constantly yell at and make move their clips are some of the ones coming in and hugging me. It’s pretty nice. This is why I teach. I have a group of kids who I care so much about and who care about me even when they may need a little extra dose of discipline. They need someone there for them and I honestly I need someone who depends on me. 

My classroom teacher said that the students needing her there is why she stays even after the awful things she has gone through while teaching. It makes total sense now that I have seen it from a distance. Sometimes seeing things from a birds eye view makes all th the difference in the word! 

Being the Sub: Day 2

Yesterday was my first day as a sub. I subbed again in the same room today. I was supposed to be floating from room to room as teachers had conferences but the teacher who was out yesterday was out agian today. I spent all day alone in the room for the first time. The student who cried yesterday cried again today. 

A police officer and his dog visited the class today. We went outside and sat in the grass. I had two students so afraid of the dogs they were in tears and hanging on my legs. I let them hang onto me. They calmed down after a little bit. Then the officer said that the dogs look for illegal drugs… Of course, one student asked, “what are drugs?” The officer looked at me. In my head I was thinking, you got yourself into this buddy. Don’t look at me to dig you out. I told the students that illegal drugs are medicines your shouldn’t have. The students really enjoyed the officer being there so that was good for them. 

So I had three students cry, one student give five minutes of recess, one parent yell at me, and I got my jeans all dirty at recess and had to wear them dirty the rest of the day… I guess it was a pretty good day! 

My classroom teacher came in and checked on me a couple of times. I really appreciate her. I know I say that every day but I cannot say that enough. She stayed a little late today to talk with me about everything that went on today. I love that she does a little extra for me. I love that she does the same for her students. I love that she cares so much. Every time I talk to her she looks at me seriously. She does the same for the students no matter how ridiculous their stories are. I want to be able to do that! 

So you win some you loose some, right? On those terms, it was a pretty good day! 

“I’m Always Going to Be Here.”

This week I asked my classroom teacher, “Why did you decide to be a teacher? What makes you stay after all the awful things that have happened?” Like always she gave me an answer that was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. She explained why she went into teaching and then addressed that part about staying after all of the terrible things that have happened to her in the classroom. She said she stays because the kids need her. With all of the instability in their lives they need something consistent. She said, “I am always going to be here.” 

It wasn’t an answer that surprised me really because I think she shows that every day but it was an answer that so simply put the things I have been feeling. I always wanted to work in a school like the one I went to but I have changed my mind and since then I have had trouble putting into words why I changed my mind.  I couldn’t quite figure out what it meant to feel the way I do but when she said those few simple words, I absolutely got it. It makes perfect sense. I am definitely the kind of person who needs to hear someone else say what I am thinking to truly know what I mean and she hit the nail on the head. 

I am certain that what makes her stand out from other teachers is that simple philosophy; the idea that in a chaotic world these kids have one thing they can rely on. One stable, intelligent adult who cares about them. Now I see that she works every day to be that person for these kids. I tell myself all the time that if one student ate a meal they otherwise would not have eaten or felt safe when they otherwise would not have then it was worth it for me to be there. It is hard to believe that sometimes. That she truly knows that and embodies that every day must be what makes her better than a good teacher. 

I wonder how she does it. Sometimes her world is upside down. How do you be the stable person in students’ lives when you feel unstable? Everything is changing for me and nothing in my life is remaining the same, so how do I accomplish stability in the in the classroom? 

Miss Haley is Graduating College

Tomorrow I graduate from college. I am not leaving my class until the end of their school year so I did not expect any kind of celebrating to go on. I really honestly did not expect anything so when my classroom teacher asked me copy a huge stack of papers for next week in the middle of the afternoon by saying, “I am going to ask Miss Haley to leave now. Oh here copy the papers in the tray,” it took me a moment to process what was happening. I actually stated at her for what felt like forever before it clicked. I carried the stack out to the copier and ran copies. About halfway through, the copier jammed. I knew I couldn’t go back to my teacher and the others would be busy so I just stood at the copier until someone walked by. She helped me fix it a little and then the office lady fixed it the rest of the way. I made more copies and it jammed again! As I was processesing how I would explain this to the office lady as she walked back past, my classroom teacher called me back in the room. Flustered by my inability to fix the copier and the thought that not all of the copies had been made, I rushed back into the room arms full of paper. I didn’t process that the lights were off and there cookies and juice on the table until I was halfway across the classroom and blurted out, “I broke the copier!” Cheering broke out. I stopped looked around and saw the cookies, juice, noise makers, and smartboard with congratulations written on it and signed by all of the students. They cheered for quite a while before my teacher stopped the noise to ask them to tel me why they were celebrating. One of the students answered, “Miss Haley is graduating college!” They ate their cookies and hugged me over and over. I nearly cried when one student, who is particularly difficult and who I had ‘gotten into trouble’ earlier, asked for a hug. I knew I loved these kids but I forget how much they mean to me and how much they care. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend the semester! (And I may or may not have cried twice on the way home…) 

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. 

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.