Saturday, August 18, 2007

Soap Boxes

(scoots her pink-striped with mint green polka-dots soap box out into the middle of the room and steps onto it)

I'm not even sure where to begin. It's been that kind of week.

As a 1st grade teacher, you expect the first several weeks to be rough. New routines, new expecta- tions, new friends...all are a bit tough those first few weeks. Add in the fact that a lot of my kiddos haven't been away from Mommy, nor have they ever bought lunch in the cafeteria and need help learning that, some still have bathroom accidents, there are always a couple with severe seperation anxiety (and a few moms with it just as badly) and as today's culture slowly evolves and changes, there are quite a few little ones who have never been held accountable for their actions, their words or have never been made to do something that they may just not feel like doing. And mind you, not only do you love, nurture, protect and guide these little spirits, you also educate and try to elevate each student's academic ability to at least grade-level standards with a mastery in all skills. This to be accomplished despite the fact that two have autism, one with emotional disabilities, a third from 'broken' homes, five from homes that do not speak English as a primary language and on and on and on. Yes, you open your door on that first day and this smorgasbord of 25 walks in...and they are yours for the next 180 days.

(picture Ron Popeil popping in to yell.....) But wait! That's not all!

As our school was starting the first full week of a new year, we were put into lock-down on Monday. No warning. No practice had been done yet. Boom! "Teachers, we are now in lock-down. Please secure your classrooms. We are in lock-down." Immediately, my students and I were face down on the floor...away from windows and our door. I had never taught my kiddos this proceedure... uh, it was only our 4th day of school. But my class was just amazing. They quietly laid on their tummies. I calmly explained what we were to do and reassured them that they were safe, that no one could hurt them in here, that I would take care of them and that they were going to be alright. As a teacher, you are looking at the micro-fibers in your carpet as you say these words, rubbing the ankle or back of the little one next to you to reassure them and wondering what in God's sake is happening 'on the outside'. But you also know that your training has prepared you for this and that you really are okay. And while you and your students are quietly proned on the floor, you trust that the authorities will take care of whatever the situation is and at some point, you will be told that all is well and that lock-down is over. When that will happen, you have no clue...but you know it will happen at some point.

And you wait....and reassure... not only your children, but yourself, as well.

And... you do this twice in one week.

That's right. We were also put into lock-down three days later. Again. For a second time. In four days.

Throw in a few extras for the ride.... a student's asthma attack warranted the paramedics and ambulance to take him on the gurney from his classroom (next to mine) to the hospital.... an irate parent chewing my ass over her son being held accountable for his actions.... another student switched out of my room to another teacher's class.... training a new I.A.... 4 meetings (3 of which were held on the same day).... and oh!!! the best part??? Due to temperatures hitting 110 degrees (I'm not kidding here, folks) we were on 'rainy day schedule' because of a heat advisory. recess!! For three days this week!!!

But the beauty of it all is that our faculty managed each and every situation with professionalism. All went well with the lock-downs. The little one with the asthma attack is fine now. Irate parents are soothed and reassured. The heat....well, that hasn't changed.

The most amazing thing, really, is that all of us will show up again Monday morning. We'll have renewed energy and commitment for the new week upon us. We'll ask how our weekends were. We'll greet our kiddos with genuine smiles and pats on the shoulder and ask "Hi Nicholas, how was your weekend?" We'll laugh with our teammates, rely on each other for answers and help and guidance. We'll have more meetings. We'll have more tears. We'll have more 110 degree days.

Part of my post today is to simply open a little window into the world of teaching. Teachers are not perfect. We make mistakes. We sometimes make a fumble. But we try our best for every child's best. Every day. Every single day. Because...

...we love what we do.

I wouldn't trade my job for the world.

(steps down from her pink striped with mint green polka-dots soap box and throws a load of laundry into the washer)


Anonymous said...

So true, that little "snapshot" glimpse into a week of a teacher :-) K

Chickenbells said...

Oh, you painted that beautifully! You poor woman...I tell you, that is one rough starting week. I was just thinking that if I ever needed to be in lockdown anywhere, that I would want you right there reassuring me, because you're such a calm and wise woman...I always feel so much better after talking to you or spending time with you...even if it's not counting the carpet fibers on the floor!

Jane said...

What a week we had! I am so glad my little Aly was safe inside with you. It is kind of scary as a parent knowing that there is a lock down going on, and not have all of the information as to why we are all locked into our classrooms, and there is nothing we can do about it.

We survived the first full week-- heres to many more wonderful adventures!

Jolene George said...

You simply amaze me. The truly special people become teachers. Boy did you ever have a rough first week. Good for you for holding those kids accountable for their actions. Some parents really need a dose of reality and they need to be appreciative of the wonderful job you're doing with their children. I admire you so much.

lynn said...
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