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!
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!
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!
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?
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.
I chickened out all day today. I was going to ask my classroom teacher if what I did yesterday was the right thing or not. I didn’t write it down in my notebook so it was really easy to bail on asking it. I am worried that she will say I was wrong or worse, that she was frustrated with me for not handling the situation differently. I know there must have been something I could have done better and I really like asking questions so that I can be better today than I was yesterday but I also really want to be right…
The bell rang like it does any old, regular Thursday. The students wandered in aimlessly, carrying their book bags from table to table until they remember they are supposed to be unpacking them. I was standing near the door. My classroom teacher was standing a bit away. I was talking to a student when my teacher looks over at me. She is wearing a face a recognize from the many other times this situation has occurred. It is a confused looked with a hint of concern and I knew right away that if I turned to my right there would be a student bent over the trash can. I look. Sure enough there is one. As I look over, my classroom teacher says, “is he really…” She is interrupted by the sound that liquid makes when it hits plastic. All I said was, “yep…” And I walked over to the student. He was sick a few more times and then I grabbed the trash can and marched him to the nurse. He made quite the mess in the trash can and there was nowhere to grab it that didn’t land a small part of my hand in what just left his stomach. Thank heavens, throw up doesn’t really bother me!
So the two of us walk to the nurse’s office. I set the trash can down near the doorway and he hops up on the cot. The nurse asked him a couple questions and I walked over to her sink to scrub my hands. As I was washing, the student says to the nurse, “guess what I had for breakfast today!”
I answered simply, “yogurt.”