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? 

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!

Computer Testing

I said something today that made my stomach turn. It wasn’t something mean or even that I regret saying it. The fact that it was necessary to say is what made me pull up short. We were in the computer lab taking an end of the year test. One of my students was looking out the window behind him and I said, “hey, eyes on your computer not outside!” 

It is sad that I had to tell a six year old not to worry about playing outside but that he needed to look at the computer. He had to take the test. I know that but it still is upsetting that this kind of testing is taking over time that could be used for students to learn hands on. 

Instead of counting flowers on a screen or sorting crayons with the mouse, my students just want to play outside and pick flowers or sort their crayons in order to color. I hate that it was necessary for me to say that computers are more important than outside! 

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…

Microwave Spaghetti and a Goose Egg

Microwave spaghetti and a goose egg might sound like title of recipe from an off-brand, poorly-devised cookbook that would turn your stomach if someone served it to you but for me it was a recipe for success this afternoon in terms of making connections with my students. Yesterday, my teacher and I had a conference to determine if I was progressing in my teaching abilities. When I am teaching all day, I told her, I feel like I am so focused on getting through everything that I don’t stop to actually talk with the students. I feel like I should know more about them and I feel like they don’t want to listen to me because I don’t frequently notice when they are doing the right thing. She gave a me a few suggestions and I thought about them a through the evening last night.

Today she set the ball right to me. Some of the students in the class were rewarded today and they chose to eat lunch in the classroom. When I asked her what needed to be done during lunch, she said there was nothing to do and that she was going to sit at one table with the kids. I sat down at the other table right next to one of the kids I have been having to talk with about his behavior a lot over the past two weeks. His mother was one who called me last Friday.

I started to mix together my microwave spaghetti and sauce and he was immediately impressed. He kept asking me how I cooked it and what it tasted like. He could not believe I had made spaghetti in the microwave! He and I laughed at the silly videos my teacher was playing for the students. It was really nice to actually talk with him about something good.

Once we went out to recess, I was a little nervous that he would get into trouble again and I would I undo all the progress I had made by being nice to him. He didn’t get into trouble but he did get hurt. I felt terrible because he walked over to me holding his head. I asked what was wrong and he could barely answer because he was trying not to cry. From what I gathered, he fell and hit his head on the merry-go-round. I took him over to my classroom teacher so she could take him to the nurse because I do not have keys to get inside. I was able to comfort him a little on the way over to the teacher.

The rest of the day he behaved fairly well. I was quite impressed. It may have been a headache from his giant purple goose egg but I would like to think that his behavior was better because of our conversation over microwave spaghetti.