May 18, 2011 3 Comments
Dictionary.com defines flexible as capable of being bent (in the physical sense) or willing or disposed to yield (in the emotional sense). They say as a teacher you have to be flexible (not necessarily in the physical sense) and I found this out in the most blunt way all on my first day of student teaching. The stresses of the first day actually began the night before when I received a text saying that we could not fit all of our group members into the van we were given so we needed to leave our room at 6:50 am. Needless to say it was not the easiest thing to see others just rolling out of bed as I left my dorm, but I was so eager it did not phase me. Aside from the normal Philly traffic, the drive was not too bad, but the true chaos began when I walked through the doors of the school.
Because we were so early, we went to check in and had to wait for the other group to arrive. But as we were checking in a woman in the office asked who our teachers were supposed to be and as I told her, she informed me that my teacher was not in for the day. This immediately made me start to get nervousbecause I had this typical idea that I would walk into the class and everyone would be aware and eager of my arrival and welcome me with open arms. Clearly this was a long shot because I was already walking in as a teacher they had never seen before, but also the substitute was an added confusion from their daily schedule so I was very apprehensive especially because I had to wait about forty minutes until the rest of the group arrived. At around 8:15 a women asked me to follow her and introduced herself as the substitute and assured me that my teacher was very nice. I spent a short amount of time with her talking about the day when I was called out of the room. This was when I was introduced to a new teacher who said my original teacher would not be back for a few weeks. As I had already been thrown around for a while, I rolled with it and we began going back and forth about questions of what to expect and it seemed like my situation had been settled until my new cooperating teacher told me that we would be going to the zoo that day. Good thing I brought my coat and umbrella, right? Wrong. I left that morning thinking I only had to walk from the van to the front entrance so I was unprepared for such an event. The excitement of going to a place where the children would definitely enjoy was enough to sooth me, but I was still nervous about being able to control a class of children I had never met and had never met me.
The children soon filed into the classroom. It was only an hour into my student teaching and I was already thrown for a loop. Many of the children took notice of me right away and seemed to sit a little straighter in their chairs and ask who I was to their peers. I was introduced to the class and they seemed to take a liking to me right away which is probably fairly typical for a second grade class, but nonetheless I was still excited. I found out that only ten of her students were going and my group would only have five children and my teacher would be with me, which made me feel better about the whole situation. The students lined up at the front of the room and we filed out to the busses. On the bus I met another student from another school in the Urban Seminar program and both her and her cooperating teacher ended up coming with us, as well as another student teacher and her teacher, so our student to teacher ratio was very good. I got along with the other Urban Seminar students very well and the second grade children seemed to like me very much and none were too out of control. And though it rained and many of us got soaked, it was overall a very fun day.
One thing that I enjoyed about my teacher was she was very conversational and sarcastic with her students. I would usually say I would not favor this type of teaching style, but it seemed to work very well for this type of students especially because they are at an age where they do not need to be babied, and they are not naive either. One thing I did not particularly like about the trip was that it had such potential to be fun and educative, and it really was lacking in the educative part. The other student teachers and I were trying to ask questions like, “what do you think that animal likes to eat?” or “where do tropical birds like to live and why do you think that?” but there really was not much mental stimulation otherwise for the students. I almost felt like I would be stepping on the teacher’s toes on my first day there so I felt like I could not say much. I wondered, why didn’t a teacher pick up on such teachable moments? When reflecting on this I just thought that maybe the teacher was so happy to get to take a trip that maybe she did not consider the possibility that it could be a very educative moment. I found many teachable moments in the trip, but it seemed as though it was more just a day to let the kids run and get out of the everyday classroom.
Overall, I had a very hectic but exciting and interesting day. Hearing stories from others in the Urban Seminar made me realize that I had a fairly mellow class and I really appreciated this on a day where I was all over the place in an area and school I was not used to. I am extremely excited to find out if my novelty wears off and the students were only fairly well-behaved because I was a new person around. Only time will tell and I know even though the first day is over, I know Iwill keep needing to use my teaching flexibility.