Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Miss, May I please go to the bathroom?


Any teacher will tell you that it's incredibly annoying being constantly approached to use the bathroom while they are trying to teach. It's distracting and means that the student will potentially be missing something important - but, if you gotta go, you gotta go. Especially with the younger ones - who literally do the "pee pee dance".

I avoided writing about my first day last night because it was BAD. Very bad. Like losing-my-mind and oh-my-GOD-these-kids-are-terrible-i-need-a-drink kinda of bad.

No sleep the night before. This is typical of me every night before I start school - I've been unable to get proper sleep on that night since I was a child. So after tossing and turning for hours (and getting about an hour and a half of straight sleep) I woke up, had a quick shower and started my hour and 20 minute commute to the school. Got there a little early and was in the classroom setting up for less than 5 minutes before a teacher came in, introduced herself and said if I have any trouble to find her. She left and another teacher comes in, basically repeats the message and adds "Oh and R and D have pretty severe behaviour problems so you might want to watch out for them". Lovely. A third teacher arrives, jokes about the day I'll have with that sympathetic "I know what you're in for but don't want to admit it" look on her face.

A sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I realize that this class will be very challenging and start to get really worried and a lot scared...

The regular classroom teacher was a godsend - she came in before leaving for her course and provided me with her laptop that hooked up to an interactive white board, complete with a powerpoint presentation covering the entire day's lessons and activities. Very sweet and a lot of fun to use - you can even write on these things with your fingers.

By the time morning break started, I had already:
- kicked a student out of class (throwing paper airplanes, yelling at other students, shouting out while I was talking, throwing water bottles, and finally telling me "will you just SHUT UP" in the hallway. ya nice kid)
- put three others on time-outs (these kids are 10-11 YEARS OLD)
- used techniques that worked on kindergarten children that worked on them for about 5 minutes at a time
- seperated a group of boys who wouldn't stop talking or get any work done while together
- had a student throw a tantrum because his name got added to the "naughty" board

The day literally went downhill from there.

I took away their gym class partly because they didn't deserve it, but mostly because I told them they needed to sit quietly and work without talking for 5 minutes. Didn't happen once all day long - and finally I just told them that I would be writing a letter for their regular teacher to let her know why they missed PE and why they didn't get their afternoon work completed.

Believe it or not - none of them seemed to care at all.

The entire school was full of kids like this - they pushed each other down in the hallways while others ran past, mocked the teachers (even the younger children did this) and basically acted like hooligans (love that word). Totally ridiculous to see that happen.

I left the school after spending an hour and a half marking stuff and writing a looong note to the classroom teacher ( who showed up as I was leaving and kept apologizing her for class).

It's funny that my first real day of teaching (professionally) was such a disaster. I did manage to get through the morning lessons, but the afternoon ones were a complete waste. Ah well, I did learn to handle a lot of noise (heehee) and to not take it personally when a student acts badly.

Went to bed after hanging out with Jeremy for a bit and opted to completely ignore my computer - and blog - until the next day.

Today I had a very very long commute from my area (central) all the way to northest London, on the end of the Victoria Line. Then I had to take a bus. Yep. A long ass train ride then a bus ride, which brought me somewhat close to the school so I did walk a bit too.

My class is a year 3 class (grade 2 in North America) whose teacher got pretty sick and may not return back at all. While I never want somebody to get sick, I do hope that he doesn't come back because it means I'd get to stay. As it is, I'll be there until at least next Friday... For the last month, the head teacher (principal equivalent) and deputy (cross between VP and secretary) had been teaching the class. Due to this, they didn't have time to get their own work done and were very happy to have me there before they even met me.

There are 30 students and they all love to talk - they'd probably talk all day if somebody let them get away with it. I certainly don't, and had to remind them probably 20 times to be quiet. Each time they actually did listen though, and they work very well as a class. I had a very good day with them aside from the talking, and am sure that if I was there for the rest of the term, that I'd be able to curb the talking habit.

As it is, I followed the school's rules and several children will be missing their morning break tomorrow because they couldn't control themselves enough to stop talking. It's as though they can't handle a silent classroom - everytime it got quiet in there, somebody would start whispering to their neighbour and then little groups would start talking. I stopped them each time and will continue to (and include consequences for their misbehaviour) until they learn to keep quiet.

--- Warning! Funny Kid Moment Story (i'm such a teacher) -----

Today while I was asking the students for the what felt like the hundredth time to cut down the noise in the room, I realized that some of the children were starting to look a little upset. These were the "good" kids who don't make a peep, stop talking immediately if they're caught and don't talk for hours afterwards, and are the first to notice when I call for the class's attention by holding a hand in the air.

"Okay, I know some of the children in this class are behaving perfectly well - believe me, I know who you are, and I think that your the students who are not behaving as they should apologize to you for being disrespectful and disruptive."

Silence in the room (as expected - I'm thinking - really who's going to actually apologize?)

Suddenly a small voice peeps "I'm sorry"

Everybody turns around to look at one of the boys who is having the most trouble keeping himself under control. He had tapped the girl beside him on the shoulder and apologized for getting her in trouble. He looks embarassed at first to be the center of attention, then repeats to the girl he was talking to "I'm sorry".

I congratulate him for his attitude and suddenly the room erupts with "I'm SORRY! SORRY! SORRY! SORRY!" Sigh. They really were sincere about it, which made it all funnier.

Until I had to ask them to quiet down and stop apologizing for being noisy.


To be honest, I never mind a little bit of talking - if they are working on something together it's very valuable to have students work problems out for themselves. It's just when they decide to chat with a neighbour rather than do math or something.

To be even more honest, I would much rather chat with a friend than do school work anyway. Who wouldn't?!

So in the end they are a very nice group of kids, most of them high achievers that participate in class discussions and try their best to get work done. The staff is very friendly and the head teacher takes time for anybody (including supply teachers) who needs him. He even came in to my room at the end of the day to make sure everything worked out and to see how they behaved themselves. We talked about class management (I asked him if he had any good tips) and pretty much everything he suggested was what I was already doing, so I'm feeling good that things will settle down once the children start missing out on things.

I really hope I get to stay.


  • At 8:28 PM, Blogger London Postmaster said…

    Good Post

  • At 8:42 PM, Blogger Kim said…

    If I were there, I'd give you a big high-five for being early! ;)

    So sorry you're first day was a wreck, but hey, sometimes that's how it happens, and it's just a FIRST day. It sounds like your second one went much better and I hope you get to stay in that class.

    Such a cute kid story though!

  • At 8:43 PM, Blogger Kim said…

    And what's with this comment moderation thing?

    SEX! SEX! SEX!

    Approve that!

  • At 1:49 PM, Blogger Suldog said…

    I love the "I'm sorry" story. That's a riot, no pun intended.


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