Actually, things went okay today, on this, our eighth day of school.
On Friday I passed out the Friday folders to the children as I was lining them up to go out in the hall to get their jackets for recess. They started opening their folders, dropping their papers on the floor, and chatting with each other, and I had a really hard time getting them out to the cubbies, getting them to put their folders away in their backpacks, and then getting them in their jackets and back in line to go outside.
I raised my voice a few times.
When we got outside and the children were playing, I told Miss Nelson, “well, I screwed that up.” She was really nice about it but I could tell she agreed with me that I should have told the children what to do (or not to do) with their folders, before handing them out.
I chatted with our Friday volunteer, a senior in college who hopes to teach Spanish someday, and asked him, “did you see what I did wrong?” He looked startled, so I explained that if something goes wrong in a classroom, it’s often the teacher’s fault. I try to look back and figure out what went wrong, and what I should do differently next time.
I didn’t feel terrible, however, and I had a very nice, relaxing weekend.
So, on to today. It was better, but I just had a hard time recognizing that or being able to relax. I started my day with technological problems, and a request from a 2nd grade teacher to do a Fountas & Pinnell benchmark reading assessment with one of her students, and I realized that I hadn’t finished my weekly lesson plan or gotten my room ready or switched out the books on the shelf. I also found out that I have three new students, one of whom would be arriving in 30 minutes. So I really had to scramble, and when I opened the door to the classroom at 9:30 to greet my students, I felt like I had been in triage mode. Only the most important stuff got done.
Nan didn’t show up, so I figured she had arrived with just enough time to greet our special ed students off their buses. That’s fine, but it meant I didn’t get to touch base with her before the children arrived, which is what I prefer.
I was on my own, and had to greet the children, help them find their cubbies, remind them to get their Friday folders out of their backpacks, give stickers to the ones who remembered, greet my new girl, remind everyone to sign in and move their nametags (from “who’s not here?” to “who’s here?”), and show the whole class how to draw or write in their journal for the first time. I ended up begging another teacher to help me for five minutes, which she did, thank goodness.
On the bright side, they soon went off to Gym and I had a little time to myself (I inhaled a cookie) to get more things done, and then I went off to assess the second grader, in my role as a mentor teacher, helping other teachers with our new reading program. He didn’t do all that well, so now I have to go back tomorrow and try again with a lower level assessment. Then the children returned and we had a pretty nice morning meeting. Our first time doing centers where they get to decide where to go (using clothespins with their names on them to clip to the centers time pocket chart) went surprisingly well. I vaguely remember that last year’s class took weeks to figure it out, and these guys seemed to figure it out on the first day.
David had a really good day, and then, alas, at blocks he accidentally knocked over Leo’s building, so Leo hit him, and David punched him in the chest really hard before Nan could react. Thankfully Leo handled it quite calmly, and Nan was able to get both boys to take time outs. (I emailed Leo’s mom to tell her what happened; I hope she doesn’t freak out.)
Then I read Knuffle Bunny for the first time, using the Repeated Interactive Readaloud method, and it went pretty well. Only David and a cute spacey girl we’ll call Trixie (after the main character in Knuffle Bunny) and a few other children were able to answer questions or participate in the discussion, but that’s okay. It’s early yet.
We had a hard time getting ready for recess, so when we got out there and I checked my watch I realized with a sinking feeling that we had only two minutes left before we had to go inside. Yes, this would count as one of those things that was my fault. What kind of teacher gives her class two minutes for recess?
So when I blew my whistle to line up, two little non-English speaking girls looked right at me, and then ran away to keep playing. Several other classes were outside at this point, and no matter how often I blew my whistle, the two girls would not line up. In fact, they had vanished into the crowd. I had the rest of the class in line heading toward the school, but David looked like he was about to lose it, and Max started pushing, and I could see Nan fruitlessly searching the playground. Finally I told the class to stay where they were and ran to the playground, where I found the girls and yelled at them.
Yuck. I still feel bad about that. What kind of teacher yells at her students at all, let alone on the 8th day of school?! I regretted it instantly.
We managed to get inside without David punching anyone, although Max was yelling, and I found a Spanish-speaking assistant to talk to my two little recess runaways, and I managed to get everyone on the bus or handed over to a parent.
I’m home now, but I felt a little twinge of anxiety not long ago. I haven’t had trouble with anxiety for months, and I really don’t want it to come back now. I’m trying to breathe, deep breathing, keep breathing…..I need to be ready for tomorrow.