Sep 4, 2012

Earning My Stripes

I think I can safely say I earned my stripes as a teacher today. On a related note, I'm now considering keeping a bottle of soju in my desk.

I knew today would be a little stressful from the start. Coteacher isn't at school today for medical reasons, so I knew I would be teaching the rugrats by myself. Little did I know, Murphy's Law was about to rear its ugly, ugly head.

Everything went smoothly for the first two classes. My advanced 3rd graders are wiggly, but they behave for me. Their homeroom teacher also stuck around for translation and crowd control.  My advanced 5th graders are the best. I see them every day for the first 3 days of the week, so by Wednesday (today) we're pretty comfortable with each other.

The trouble started as soon as 5th grade left my classroom. I opened the shared network folder where Coteacher and I keep all of our materials, only for it to vanish when I clicked on it. I went to send an SOS message to my friend the school counselor (henceforth called Counselor), when I realized the messenger system wouldn't log me in. I opened a web browser and my worst fears were confirmed: my internet wasn't working. I had 5 minutes until class started with no lesson plan, no powerpoint, and no way to call for help. After rummaging around under my desk and making sure my ethernet cable was plugged in, I frantically logged onto the other, seldom-used computer in the classroom.  Miraculously, the internet was working on that one, but it wasn't hooked up to the smartboard. My powerpoints and games would be useless. I plugged in the thumb drive that I keep in my purse and started copying the files over. It said it would take about half an hour. Great.

Then the 4th graders walked in. I was so distracted that I told them just to sit for a minute while I copied the files. Of course, within 30 seconds they were rowdy and yelling, then I hear a very loud and clear "F**** YOU!"

I know. 

I stood up, stood right in front of him, and yelled "HEY. WE DO NOT SAY THAT WORD IN THIS CLASSROOM."
I turned to the class (who was silent) and repeated that we DO NOT ever say that word in this class. I also made the perpetrator stand in the corner to prove my point. I made him stay there until he looked nice and sorry (so, about five minutes).

Meanwhile, I still had no powerpoint or any of the games I was going to spent  half the class playing.
We halfhazardly went over the material in the book that I needed to cover, which took them about 10 minutes. For the mathematically inclined, this means I was about 15 minutes into a 40 minute class... and had nothing left to do. I turned to the old English teacher standby: hangman. Boy. Those kids love hangman. They completely lose their sh*t over hangman. We played hangman for a good fifteen minutes (each game didn't last more than give you an idea of how much hangman that is).

Finally, my powerpoint game finished copying onto my thumb drive. I plugged it into my computer, and was able to spend the last 10 minutes of class playing "pass the ball," (aka hot potato) just like I'd planned.
Finally, the 4th graders filed out. I sat down and put my head on my desk, thinking I was done for the day. How very wrong I was.

Ten minutes later, my door opens, and in strolls... a class of second graders. Now, I had never met the second graders. I had been under the impression that I didn't have the second graders until next week, so you can only imagine my surprise. Not only did I have a class full of tiny strangers, their teachers (yep, more than one) decided to stick around and watch the new (woefully unprepared) English teacher in action. At the same time, I saw Counselor walk past the room out of the corner of my eye. I ran outside and frantically tried to communicate that my internet didn't work. She is such a saint. She saved the day. She barely speaks any English, and I'm sure she had something else to do, but sure enough, she ran and got tech support.

So now, my classroom is filled with lots of tiny strangers, and several adult strangers. That's when the teaching gods intervened.  Somehow (and I still don't know how), I pulled a whole lesson plan out of my a**. I said my name, made a few students stand up and say their name and one thing they liked, then we sang the ABC song, then we started going through the alphabet and saying words that started with that letter. We got to about L before the internet started working. I was able to show a youtube video about numbers that I found yesterday, and printed off coloring sheets for the letter M. Note to self: if you ever want to get second graders to shut up, let them color. They LOVE coloring.

Oh, and all of this happened on an empty stomach because I was out of milk this morning, so I didn't have breakfast.

On the bright side: Counselor came to get me for lunch. When we got to the teachers lunch room, she told a few people what had happened, so they laughed and said that was bad and was I ok? In other words, they talked to me!!!

Now I plan on locking myself in my empty classroom for the rest of the day and decompressing. The end.

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