Friday, August 28, 2009

Mistaken Identity

There has been one reoccurring situation that bothered me at first, but now I’m just trying to let it go!! It’s not an issue with the students, but rather almost all of the staff and parents. So what am I talking about?? The following statements should make it a little clearer:

- Excuse me, you need to be in line! (Gentle push to help me get into line)
- We do not talk in the hallways, young lady!
- Oh my goodness, you mean you’re not one of the students?!

In a nutshell, everyone seems to mistake me for one of the students. Now I thought my professional dress and my “teacher demeanor” would help me stand out a little more but obviously I was mistaken. I know I’m only 5’2’’, 115 pounds, but gee wiz, people, clearly a student would not be walking through the hallways with a clip board and high heels!!!! At first it bothered me, but now I just try to take it as a compliment to my apparently youthful appearance!

I will NOT be played for a fool!!!

Today, my eyes were opened to the true knack for manipulation that just about all of my beloved 5th graders have. I didn’t see it before but it is quite clear to me now. Whenever my students want to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, get something from a back pack, etc., they will almost always ask me and not my CT. Why is this so, you might ask?? Well it is absolutely because they know she will say no and I probably won’t!! I can’t count how many times I was asked those very questions this week and the naivety of the new young teacher in training feel for it every time!! I would think, “Oh, it has been hot, maybe she will pay attention more if she gets a drink” or “I would rather he go to the bathroom in the bathroom and not in here”. Both of those rationalizations are valid but very unlikely to happen (at least with my kids!).

So, the culminating point of these schemes was at the end of the day when I gave a student permission to get a drink of water (quickly, of course!). Well, my CT didn’t hear me tell him he could go and when she saw him in the hallway she gave him a hard time. His response was that I told him he could go and that if he wasn’t supposed to she needs to talk to me because I told him he could. My CT snapped back at him that she didn’t care what I had told him because he knows better. Drinks are only done during breaks and no other time and he was wrong for having the nerve to ask me when he knows the expectations.

I felt bad at first because I had, indeed, told him he could go but that feeling soon dissipated!! He knew exactly what he was doing, as did all of the other students who played that game with me!! It’s a lot like what kids do at home….you know, asking Mom if they can play on the computer even though they know Dad told them no because they lost that privilege for a week!! My 5th graders scored points in the game for this week, but I can guarantee you I will NOT be played for a fool next week!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Week

Even though there is still one more day left in the week, I think it is safe to say that I survived the first week of school (hopefully I won’t regret saying that later!)!!! I am more tired than I ever thought I could be…but other than that I have basically loved every minute of it. I honestly don’t know how people who traditionally student teach in the spring make it without seeing the beginning of the year. There is so much crucial information about the students that is gained during the first few weeks and I feel so blessed to be able to experience it all… I am so grateful for this year-long student teaching experience!

Oh, where do I even begin????! Well, we have 18 students in our class and were “given” the most “difficult” students in 5th grade. My CT is known as the classroom management guru so they felt that if anyone can whip them into shape, it is her. This scared me at first, but I now understand how great of an opportunity it will be to work with students who will help me work out the kinks in my own behavior management strategies.

So, here are some of the experiences I have had during this first week:

- Beginning of the Year Staff Meetings
- Grade Level Planning Meetings
- Lunch in the Teachers’ Lounge
- Before School Meetings with Parents
- Learning how to meet the needs of a student with Autism
- Fire Drills
- Assessing Oral Reading Fluency
- Small Group Instruction
- Doing After-Lunch Read Alouds
- Repeating my directions 1,000 times over
- Getting students caught up when they come in 1 hr. late for two days straight (important factoid: the student lives directly across the street from the school)

Today, we had a problem with a class bully talking about other students, in particular one girl who is overweight. Well, word got back to my CT and she has absolutely ZERO tolerance for bullying. She confronted the bully and let him know that his behavior was unacceptable. She then asked him if his mom was home. Now, at this point I’m thinking that she was going to make a phone call home. But ooooooohhhhhh no……she said “Okay, let’s go!”. The “let’s go is referring to going across the street (literally) to his house to talk to his mom face to face. I don’t know who was more surprised: me or the student!!!! Well, we both walked him to his house and my CT explained the problems we’ve had with him. She gave him “the look” so we knew everything was out of our hands from that point. After I got over my shock, I realized how great of a move that was! Going to his home showed him that what happens at school doesn’t stay at school and that there is no approval of such hurtful behavior. Even though I see the power in what my CT did, I don’t know if I would’ve had the guts to do that!!! That’s okay though, I’m only 4 days into this whole “real teaching” thing but I’m definitely learning the ropes!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The beginning of it all!!

I know it's been a while but I have been moving and getting things together for the incredible year ahead of me!! On 8/18 I came into the classroom to set up at 9am and I ran into my CT in the parking lot. I helped her carry some materials into the classroom. We ended up not being able to come in on 8/17 because she had to go out of town for a funeral. I didn't think a day would make a difference but boy was I wrong. The 5th grade class next door has an intern too and their class looked AMAZING!!!! They worked all day on the 17th and got a bunch done. I was a little disappointed that I wasn't able to come in then too but oh well, there wasn't anything I could have done about it.

The theme with both 5th grade classes is Hollywood. Both CT's came up with it and really went all out with decorations. most of the stuff they said they got from party stores and teacher supply stores. Since we didn't have anything prepared, we brainstormed some ideas for our bulletin boards:
Presenting Coming Attractions: Welcome bulletin board outside of classroom
Hollywords: Word Wall
Lights, Cameras, Read: Reading Corner/Focus Wall
Wall of Fame: Student Work

I'm jumping all over here but I just want to list some of the useful tips I've learned so far!

- Use fabric to cover cork boards instead of paper b/c it's more durable and reusable
- Use borders to cover up gaps in butcher paper/fabric along the edges of the board
- Even if custodians say they cleaned the desks, that doesn't mean they did!
- Keep an eye on your belongings b/c some teachers think that when your stuff is not physically in your room, 1st come, 1st serve rules apply!!

This post only scratches the surface of what I have experienced after only 3 days into it all!! More posts to come!!!