A few years ago, I bought my class two hermit crabs as our class pets. The kids named them Grandpa, because he was big, and Ketchup, because he had claws the color of ketchup. The kids really loved those crabs, and took turns caring for them.
One day when the class went to Music, I was looking in the cage and Ketchup was gone. I dug around in the rocks and sand, looked under the little house, and looked inside the tube they often climbed in. He was not in there.
When the kids came back in , we had a class meeting to talk about where Ketchup might be. Nobody could explain it. I told them that maybe somehow Ketchup had gotten out of the cage. Everybody talked about how we could keep our eyes open just in case he happened to crawl out of his presumed hiding place. We didn't find him that day.
The next morning Ketchup was still missing. We went along with our daily routine, and during recess, I happened to have study hall in my classroom. We used study hall as a time for kids who needed to make up assignments could come for a few minutes during recess. On this particular day, there were five or six students from other second grade classes in my room working. While they worked, I went back to the cage and poked around to see if I could have possibly missed Ketchup. Grandpa was in there, but that was it.
As I poked around in the cage, a little girl asked me what I was doing. I told her that I was trying to find our hermit crab. She asked me if it had red claws and I told her it did. She then told me that Chelsie in my class had a hermit crab with red claws at the bus stop the afternoon before.
That afternoon I took Chelsie aside and asked her about the hermit crab, and she denied ever having one. I called her mom later that afternoon, and she said that Chelsie had found a crab at the bus stop the previous day, put it in her backpack, and they put it in a bowl with some water when she got home. She really believed that she found a hermit crab at the bus stop! I explained that I was pretty sure that it was our class pet and asked that she return it the next day.
Ketchup came back to school the next day with Chelsie. The kids were so happy to have him back, but some of them could not understand how she could take it in the first place. They were really mad at her. We ended having a class meeting to get it all out in the open, and I guess she realized that she was wrong, and Chelsie apologized. Everything went back to normal after that.
Grandpa and Ketchup went on to be our class pet for another couple of years. After that, I got a rabbit. I don't think he'll be as easy to sneak into a back pack!
I got antsy today and went over to my school to take a look at my classroom. Yep, it was still there! I set my goal for the day: untangle all of the computer wires and cords that were not supposed to be unplugged. Well, they did get unplugged and were a mess to straighten out. It felt good to get it out of the way, though.
I've decided to set a goal each day until school starts so that it won't be so overwhelming once school officially starts back in 3 weeks. I don't know what goes on at other schools, but our district gives us just 1 1/2 days to get our rooms together. The rest of the week is spent in inservice. It's really hard to pay attention when we all need to be doing other things to get ready for the kids.
Anyway, other goals for the next few days: clean shelves and put books on them, unpack supplies that I ordered and organize my supply closet, set up furniture differently from last year, arrange centers, organize my desk, declutter, take care of bulletin boards, and get my rugs cleaned. That about does it until I can get my hands on a class list. When I do there will be other details to take care of.
Oh yeah, lesson plans. Once the room is done, I can finally settle down to work on those.
I wonder if others outside the profession realize how much needs to be done in order to be ready for a new batch of kids every year?
In the past several years I've had the opportunity to work with many student teachers. It's always a lot of fun watching them grow during their short time with me, and I get a lot of personal satisfaction in knowing that I may have helped them achieve their goals.
One reason I work with these students is because of my own wretched student teaching experience! My supervising teacher gave me her plan book and told me that under no circumstances would I be allowed to do anything other than what she had put in her plan book. She said she wanted the class to be exactly where she wanted them to be after I left, and that there was no time for me to add my own ideas. Although I loved the kids and made my A, I left at the end of the term feeling very unprepared and incompetent. I lost all confidence in my abilities. I didn't teach for 8 years, and it wasn't until I had my own kids that I realized that I could teach and do a good job at that!
Because of that time, I love working with student teachers. I know what NOT to do, thanks to my own supervising teacher! I always go over the subject matter that needs to be covered, but I let them know that I regard them as professionals and that I trust that they will succeed. I encourage them to do things the way they are most comfortable. I serve as a mentor and guide, offering advice when needed, and praising all the good things that happen. They all tell me that they appreciate being treated more as co-teachers than students, and all have gone on to establish their own classrooms.
I hear of other supervising teachers who treat their student teachers as badly as mine treated me, and all I can say is, what a waste of good talent! With a growing teacher shortage, we should be doing our best to help these students develop skills that will enable them to be successful and happy as teachers.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Is it just me, or do other teachers start having dreams about school around this time of the summer? I love teaching, and I love working with kids, so it's not as if I dread going back. Every year I have dreams (nightmares) of the upcoming class, and it's mostly the same scenario: The kids come in, they start running around, and no matter what I say or do they won't stop being wild and crazy! It's always way more kids than can fit in my classroom, so there's never enough space to sit. Sometimes we're on the playground and they start running off the school grounds, and I spend the whole dream trying to bring them back! This whole thing is just so different from the way things really are! Anybody else out there having these dreams?
Some of the younger kids (second graders)that I teach have the strangest reactions when they see me outside of the school setting. You 'd never think that I spend 7 1/2 hours a day with them by their behavior when we accidentally bump into one another! Lots of times they are hardly able to get out a weak "Hi", then they hide behind their parent!
Recently I was at Target and one of my boys came whizzing around the corner on the shopping cart, took one look at me, and stopped dead in his tracks. He looked at me as if I might turn him in for reckless driving! I asked him how he was doing and he said, "Oh, Mrs. S., uh, I'm okay. I'm just shopping with my grandma." After a short talk, I told him I'd see him at school. Then he moved the cart very slowly back to wherever he was going, looking over at me the whole time until he was out of sight! It was weird, since he'd never been in any kind of trouble with me all year.
Another time, I ran into a boy and his mom at the grocery store. This little guy had been in trouble with me at school that day for annoying others in his learning club. He saw me before his mom did, and his eyes had this look of dread that said, "Oh, crap! Not who I wanted to run into right now!" He apparently thought I 'd spill the beans to his mom right there in the store. Of course I didn't, since that wasn't the proper time or place. As I exchanged pleasantries with his mom, he stood silently, waiting for the big reveal! His mom finally told him to tell me "hi". He was so obviously stunned and relieved when I didn't say anything to his mom, that I had to chuckle to myself as I walked away!
Well, it's a little more than a month and the first day of school will be here. Even after 21 years of teaching, I still want to give my kids the best "first day" I can. I am on the lookout for some cool activities that would make that day fun. It seems that I've done it so many times that I should already have a repertoire of things ready to use. I would just like to see what others out there are doing! I would love to get some ideas flowing so I can start on my plan for the big day! So....what's your best tried-and -true idea?
One thing I don't look forward to when school starts is our weekly staff meeting. It is always the same, with all of the emphasis being devoted to one initiative that our principal favors. Maybe once in a while it's okay to stick with the one topic, but not every single meeting! On a positive note, our principal works hard to keep the meetings to one hour after school, so that's much better than some of my friends at other schools. I like the initiative that our school is adopting, but it feels like there must be other subjects to discuss once in a while! I'm wondering how others in "blog land" feel about their staff meetings.
This has absolutely nothing to do with teaching, but I just got turned on to a great music website called www.slacker.com. It's a free site where you can go to handpick your favorite music and create your own playlist. It's easy to do and the choices are endless! Check it out!