Monday, October 25, 2010

In Your 28 Years of Teaching?

My administrators were really awesome and offered to help my partner and me in math curriculum writing by getting us a substitute for a half day.  I appreciated the offer, but at the same time I dreaded having to plan for a sub.  But it was one afternoon and all he/she would be responsible for was teaching was math and science. 

I have a very well behaved class, because I have so many explicit procedures and routines in place.  According to Harry Wong, my students should be able to run the classroom without me.  I'm beginning to think his lack of elementary experience is causing him to be a liar...

At the end of the day I went back to my classroom, as the sub was walking my students out to buses.  I briefly noticed 3 students name on the board, and a note scratched out on the bottom of the paper.  It was negative so I decided to not be in the room when she came back.  So I went to a coworkers room to discuss what was accomplished on the math curriculum front. 

While doing this I overhear the sub in the hallway discussing how her day went.  The sentence "In my 28 years of teaching..." really did come out of her mouth.  Really lady?  You do realize that substituting is no comparison to your own classroom right?  I was pretty annoyed, and my poor students were the target of all that annoyance. 

I gave them silent treatment instead of greeting them with a good morning.
When announcements were over I rudely called them to the carpet by pointing at the rug and saying "Sit, Now, Silence."
Then I lectured them for 5 minutes on how they had all completely disappointed me.
Then came the threat of no recess if they did even one procedure wrong, no warnings today.

Well they behaved perfectly under my Nazi regime.  They even wrote very thoughtful apology letters to the sub.  I hope she appreciated them. 

After lunch I had cooled down so I began by reviewing what the students noticed about the day before, and then I got the message that math was frustrating because they didn't understand rounding and the sub didn't explain it the same way. 

Poor little dears. I took out my frustrations on them because I assumed that a retired teacher was capable of following my instructions.  I left her very detailed plans, even including language I commonly use in teaching and in correcting behavior.  She had in her possession an instruction manual to behave just like me.  Why didn't she use it?!?!

I guess next time I'm going to remember that I don't use my instruction manual every time either and fortunately Jesus doesn't lash out on me with his frustration.  Next time I'm going to remember that I do have a great class.  My coworkers reminded me of this.  They also reminded me that sometimes the retired teachers feel their way is better, and that it can have negative effects on a classroom. 

I'm sorry for the way I acted in the situation, but at the same time it grounded me.  Now I have just another example/reason to pay attention to that instruction manual. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Didn't we discuss the meaning of emergency?

Today was our first official day of guided reading.  Our school is starting late this year, way too late in my opinion, due to a change in how we are supposed to implement our lesson plans.  So last week was the first time I met with some of the students.  We drilled procedures and routines.  What we look and sound like at silent reading, and computers, and guided reading groups.  What we look and sound like during the green light, the yellow light, and the red light.  When we may ask the teacher a question.  Yada yada...

I also led this group in an in depth discussion of "emergency".  This discussion must take place because only a true emergency may interrupt my time with a guided reading group.  So we discuss that there are 2 types of emergencies:  bathroom and medical.  In my classroom a bathroom emergency is defined as "If I don't go to the bathroom right now there will be a puddle on the floor" and "Oops, I didn't make it and there is a puddle on the floor."  The kids laugh at this definition but they can connect with it.  Medical emergencies are defined as "I crying from intense pain." or "This blood is making a mess of my materials and me."  Again some laughter, but message received. 

Or so I thought...

Today one student sat at her desk with her hand raised for her entire silent reading station.  She had to go to the restroom.  Clearly not an emergency because sitting at your desk with your hand raised for 20 minutes means there was no puddle or the threat of one.

Another student came to me with a terrified look on his face and a particular odor.  "I wasn't trying to wait.  It just sort of came out."  So a real emergency and he waited until the red light to come and tell me he had soiled himself. 

Tomorrow, a review of emergencies may be in order.