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! 

A Conversation on the Tetherball Court

A weekend at camp has left me sore, tired, slightly bruised, and absolutely encouraged! During lifeguard recertification one of the camp staff told me she noticed that this year I am much more confident than two years ago when I was first trained. A lot has happened in those two years and I guess I am different than I was two years ago. I didn’t notice the change until she brought it up because it was definitely a slow change. Now I look back over the last two years and realize camp has made all the difference. I am not so nervous and I don’t feel like I am always making the wrong decisions or bothering people. That this woman who I haven’t talked to extensively noticed that about me is super encouraging. 

The best thing that happened this weekend was sitting on the tetherball court with a group of camp staff, who are also educators, talking about school, students, funny stories, and teacher problems. Two of them currently work in schools, one works outdoor education, and the other is studying English education. It was so nice to get all my fears and funny stories out. It was very encouraging to talk with other new(ish) teachers about the first few years and the differences between high school seniors and kindergarteners (which we discovered are really not that different). I love that I have just joined a profession filled with such amazing, dedicated people. 

I am very much ready to have my own classroom.Through these   conversations with impressive people, I have realized that I am no where near perfect and that’s is okay! I realized that it will take more than a semester to be as fantastic as my classroom teacher. Her fantastic-ness is the result of a lifetime of work. I can’t figure all that out in one semester and that is okay! My camp friends have really made a big difference in my life and I love that they are so supportive even when I may not have spoken to them in two years! I feel great and now I just need schools to start posting their jobs so I can start applying! I can do this and it’s all thanks to camp and the fantastic people who work there and can change my worldview in an hour conversation while sitting on the ground on the tetherball court!  

And I Graduated…

Yesterday I finished my undergraduate degree in elementary education. I walked across the arts terrace and got my empty folder from the Dean of Teacher’s College and then went and had dinner with my family and a friend. I don’t really know what the future holds for me. I haven’t got a job lined up or even any idea of where I might want to work. I still have things to do before I am a licensed teacher. 

I feel a little like the mixed up chameleon (a book we read in school this week). I have so many parts that are going in different directions that I don’t really know what to do anymore. Thank goodness I have my class to go back to for the rest of the school year. That and my classroom teacher told me I could email her any time I had a question. That makes me feel a little better. A little more like there is something stable in my life. 

It is time to start packing and getting ready to move on. Things are going to change but I think it will be for the better. I guess we will wait and see… 

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! 

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.

More Red Notes

Today was my third day of being the teacher. We had a different sub today who was a teacher for something like 30 years before becoming a sub. It was helpful to have a sub who’s management style was more like my teacher than the previous one, not that he was bad it was just different because he is not a teacher. Today was slightly better than yesterday. I am not sure if it was because of the different sub or sending home that note yesterday or maybe because right off the bat this morning I started moving clips. Anyway…

Last night, I sent my college supervisor an email detailing the problems I was having and my reservations about involving the principal. I received the signed note back from the student I sent it home with yesterday. I then had a phone conversation with my college supervisor about the student and how I should handle the problems. She firmly suggested that I find out the procedures for taking a student to the principal’s office. During my student’s specials, I went in search of the principal. I found her giving a tour of the school to some people and obviously could not discuss things with her then. I went to the teacher next door and explained what was going on and asked what I should do. She helped out and gave some referral papers in case I needed them.

Things were a little more under control until specials. The student I had problems with yesterday was on yellow half-way through the day instead of red. When I picked the students up from the library, the librarian walked out in the hall to talk with me. I knew from the look on her face the there was trouble. I quickly glanced at my class and saw that the student was missing. The librarian asked me what was going with my students. I explained to her that I thought that they were acting up because they were pushing to try and see what they could get away with because my classroom teacher is gone. She handed me three notes home and explained that the student was in the office because she could not get him under control. I replied that I was fairly close to doing the same thing. She said when she told him he was going to the principal’s office he said that was fine and he wanted to sit in the time out room. When he was informed that he would not be going to the time out room but was going to talk with the principal he tried everything to not have to do it. I guess my decision not to take him to the time out room yesterday was the right choice.

I took the students back to the classroom and had the other two students move their clips for getting into trouble in the library. The students all sat on the rug for calendar and instead of starting calendar right away, I let them have it! I started by asking them if they had behaved in library. They all said no. Then I said,

“We have been having a lot of trouble behaving this week. Some of us are fighting with our friends, talking when we are not supposed to… Some of us are doing a fantastic job. Some are listening and following directions (I made eye contact with several of those students so they knew I was talking to them). But a lot of us are not having a good week (and here I made eye contact with several other students so they knew I was talking to them). That stops now. Just because the classroom teacher is not here does not mean you do not have to listen and follow the rules. The classroom teacher is going to come back next week and I would love to tell her we had a great week and she missed a lot of fun stuff but right now I can’t because our behavior is not good. We have this afternoon and two more days to make it better. If we don’t, I will tell her and she is going to be very disappointed. (At this point several students were on the verge of tears who were not even the students who were getting onto trouble.) The rest of today and this week we are going to listen to directions (and a student decided this would be good time to talk over me and address the class about something that happened in library, so called her name and continued) not talk when a teacher is talking; that includes the sub, the aide, the special teachers, and me. When we are telling you something you are listening not talking. We are going to have a better afternoon and day tomorrow. Do you understand me?”

Several students nodded and quietly said yes. I said, “good,” and began with calendar. After a few minutes of calendar, the office called and asked if they could send the student back to the classroom. I said yes and asked to sub if she could go to the office and make sure he made it back to the classroom. They walked in a few minutes later. The rest of the day was okay until I decided to send another red note home with him. His clip was still on yellow so he protested but I explained that if you have to go to the principal’s office you will have a note sent home. He was incredibly unhappy and stuffed it into his book bag. The classroom teacher has told me before that if a student goes to the office they are off the chart. (This was about a month ago when another student was having problems with hitting other students.)

I had another student who was off the chart and I wrote a note home to his parents too. It is not terribly unusual for him to have notes home because his issues go deeper than simply misbehaving.

I am having doubts about whether or not I can really do this every day. I am nowhere near in control of my students. I just want my classroom teacher to get back so that she can tell me where I am going wrong!