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Sunday, September 14, 2008

And just like that, a week has passed.

It was a long week but it went by really quickly. (My internet is not working, so that's the reason I have not posted.)

The child who was perplexing and challenging me ended up being moved to a different classroom, with a more experienced teacher who actually knows how to manage a classroom and therefore will be better able to manage both a classroom and that child, as opposed to me who hasn't a clue how to do anything except make it through the day.

This was most certainly not a suggestion I made, but after talking many times with my principal and VP, just asking for advice and affirmation that I was doing the right things with this child and not screwing him/her up (by setting really bad expectations), they decided that the student would be better served in this other classroom. I am sad, but relieved. And sad and ashamed that I am relieved. But ever since this child was moved, my classroom feels like a different place - my interactions with my students have changed, and I am able to put my focus and energy on the other needy students in the class, the ones who were pushed to the background in comparison to the other child who was moved, but who really should be receiving a lot more of my time. My principal said that s/he wants me to be able to "develop [my] craft" this first year teaching, and could see that was not what I was doing with this child in my classroom. This was cited as the main reason for the student's move to another class.

This situation helps me see, again, how absolutely wonderful my school's administration is. That's what I had heard coming in, and that is what I have experienced since I have been here interacting with them. I'm still in shock every day that they are so great. (Should I be so surprised that I have a competent and supportive administration? I have heard so many stories about bad administrators, and very few wholly positive ones.)

Also this week, every time I turned my head, I realized there was someone in my classroom observing me. This wasn't unique to me - all the new teachers get observed a lot, sometimes in more formal ways, sometimes in less formal ways. Regardless, it got to the point that, when someone came into my room to just ask me a question, I totally ignored her because I thought she was just coming to observe me. Oops. (I was observed more times than there are days in the week...)

And, aside from the stress and the occasional freak-outs (which happen, and I just have to reassure myself that they will pass, and the next day will come, and then it will end, and we all will have survived), school is going surprisingly well. I still don't think I'm really teaching my kids. I don't know that they'll perform particularly well on the tests which assess their learning, and therefore my teaching. But, they are doing activities mostly following the materials we are supposed to follow, and the standards we are supposed to meet. I am hoping that with the zillions of observations I have been getting, I will continue to be given guidance on actually teaching - on making sure that my lessons are reaching the students in the way that I intend them to. And with this guidance and direction (from the amazing higher-ups at my school) I will do better at teaching for learning and teaching for the tests (instead of just teaching kind of for the fun of it without seeing any real results).

Now it is time to get ready for another week. I will take a deep breath and jump on in, as I have been doing, knowing that come Friday I will have found my way back to the surface where I can take a quick breather before plunging in again for the next week.


OpenID onteaching said...

If your classroom hasn't exploded, all children are present and accounted for at the end of each day and they all have their respective limbs still on them, then you DO know how to manage a classroom. That other teacher (where the student is now) would not have been able to handle this student her first year teaching either.

My mom always tells me I'm making a big impact in my students' lives, and every time I feel she's saying that just because she's my mom and it's her job to say that. How can she know how I'm affecting there kids? She's not there! But now, I find myself wanting to say to you the same things she says to me...

One thing is teaching them the three 'Rs, which I know by the end of the year, you will have done. Another thing is teaching them how to be, how to wait their turn, how to work together as a team, how to talk to an adult, how to talk to each other, how to show the person next to you that you care. Especially when you have the little ones... social skills are vitally important, but no one takes the time to explicitly teach these things - and they're not on any state standardized assessment.

That the state looks for results in the wrong place, and/or demands unreasonable, uniform standards for all, does not mean we're not doing our jobs and teaching these kids.

(Maybe it's the caffeine talking... I feel this came out very sappy. Have you seen the movie Summer School, with Mark Harmon? Very good movie, and rather inspirational for teachers, as well... in its own cheesy-80s-movie way...)


6:25 PM  
OpenID theinfamousj said...

Don't worry about having the student moved. Really. It doesn't say anything negative about you as a teacher. There are some times where chemistries just work out better between people. Case in point, I just got a student moved in to my classroom from that of a more experienced teacher. I can handle this student better than he could because the student feels a connection with me and so is motivated to behave. Why? No clue. But such is life.

As for how to tell you are really teaching the students? Formative assessments. I assume you look over their shoulders, ask questions, etc. The true test of what a student knows is what they can produce with little study time, like during a question and answer session or on a quick worksheet. If they have it there, then they KNOW it, so you are teaching.

Good luck. Hang in there. The stress will lessen next year and be all gone in your third year.

Enjoy a supportive administration. They are few and far between.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous eiela said...

Wow, what an awesome admin you've got! S/He sounds like he's doing what's best for all the children.
And to echo what the other posters said, you're probably doing better than you think at giving the kids what they need. (Surely with all those observations, somebody would've given you a hint if you weren't!) Plus, if you manage not to kill a child or make the news for a bad reason your first year, you're doing good. (last line meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek. . . wanted to make sure it got taken that way!)

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Not Quite Grown Up said...

I have to say that you all on the internet are awesome. You don't even know me and yet are so encouraging and reassuring. Thank you, thank you!

9:50 PM  

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