Thursday, February 24, 2011

I am an idiot.

So, yesterday was my first day of full teaching. As I said to a teacher during lunch, "I know I'm going to make mistakes, but I'm really worried about the ones I don't know I'm doing."

Before first period, my cooperating teacher had some chest pains, and had to be taken to the hospital. She's quite alright, but I was tasked with running the classroom. Awesome. Because I don't have my teaching license, they had to have roving substitutes in the classroom, or staff on their planning period. That's fine.

First period was pretty chaotic. I didn't have her lesson plan, and I didn't know how to use a lot of the tools to successfully run the class. Plus, that class is fairly rowdy, but it managed to go over well enough. There was a quiet sub, a graduate from the K-8 certification program at the same university I'm in. A lot of subs I've met are from that program, which makes me very glad I'm in the secondary science program, from my understanding we get snatched up very quickly, and those that aren't are usually pining to work at a specific school.

Second period was planning. I got a text from the teacher explaining where all the lesson plan stuff was, and I understood what I needed to do.

Third period, a staff teacher on planning came in to watch me. He had a huge pile of tests to grade, and asked if I was comfortable teaching the class. That moment was very empowering, and I said I was. Awesome. So, I ran the class, and we got everything we needed to done, although we ran VERY close to the bell. Still, a massive success in my eyes.

Fourth period came along, which is a math/science block. Another staff teacher came in, and I told her that I was comfortable teaching this class, and she could grade papers.

That was a mistake. She went in thinking that she was going to co-teach, and I told her, in earshot of students, to grade papers. I did not mean to be insulting in any way, it was a miscommunication. I was stating to her that, "Hey, I've got this, don't waste your planning period on account of me!" She heard, "I don't need your help. Grade papers." Students apparently heard the same thing, and told another teacher about the incident, and it got around and ended up in an email from my cooperating teacher, stating she needed to talk to me about the incident in 4th period and how I spoke to Michelle.

But back to the day! Not knowing what I had done wrong, I moved to 5th period, where a substitute teacher worked on her laptop while I had the students do a math test, which lasted all period. Mean ol' Mr J making them do an horrible test.

6th period was the engineering class, which was pretty hard to control, but went fine. By the end of the day, I was exhausted, and had a crazy drive home through the snow, only to find that my afternoon grad school class had been canceled. I went home and read that email, and spent most of the evening worried.

So, I emailed my placement coordinator about the situation, she helped me put it in perspective and told me to email the offended teacher an apology, and CC it to my cooperating teacher. I just did that, and I just received a reply from the offended teacher, explaining her perspective.

So, the lesson learned here is this: If you have a teacher that is watching you, realize that they might actually want to co-teach. The thought had never even crossed my mind, and I was so caught up in my excitement to actually be running a day that I wasn't even thinking about anything aside from what was going to happen in class.

So, I'm currently okay with that teacher, which is good. My cooperating teacher understands my perspective, and now I need to find out what teachers were told about me 'telling off' another teacher. While this is something I will have to atone for in some way or another, it was just a learning experience in which I learned to communicate with teachers. I assumed she would want to sit and grade papers for her own classes, and I was completely wrong.

So, hooray miscommunication nearly giving me a panic attack.

In the mean time, I'm snowed in, so I probably won't be back to the school till Monday, where I'll have to bring some sort of apology gift to the teacher. A nice bag of French Roast is probably a good idea, although if she doesn't like coffee, that could be a problem.

Anyway, that is a huge weight off my shoulders. Now I can focus on my classwork. And, aside from that one issue, the day went fantastically. I was so grateful to get a full day of teaching in, and according to all who saw me, I did a pretty good job. I did have the lesson laid out for me, so that was useful, and the kids are conditioned to respond to a signal, and there is a solid behavior plan and expectations in place, so I am walking on the shoulders of giants, but I still feel I really did well.

And it was good to have a real scare. I've been getting close to burn out for a while, as the exhaustion of a full time classload, part time job, and teacher observation take their toll on me. But this managed to energize me and make me realize that I'm too lucky with my placement to go moping about.

Anyway, all's well that ends well.


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