I think the first two days of schools are crazy for any new teacher. You never know what is going to happen, and you can be surprised by absolutely nothing. Also, you cannot let any of your students know that it is your first time teaching for a full year since they will pounce on that fact. However, I have had two over the top incidents in my first two days of teaching that are a tad crazier than normal.
Let’s start on the positive notes. I have 20 students in my 5th grade class, which I think is a pretty good size. Most of the students are pretty talkative and eager to participate in class. For example, this morning we read a 20-page story from our textbook about an earthquake, and they did a great job at reading the story. Most of them comprehended the key details, so I was pleased. I also taught my students Roman Numerals today. Most of them had not learned this concept before, but they seemed to master my independent practice activity on Roman Numerals from 1 to 50. This activity went much better than most of my lessons at Institute. However, the real test will be to see if they remember this information during the review tomorrow. My students also enjoyed my science lesson with M & Ms along with an activity where they learned more about me.
However, I have had two incidents that have cast a shadow over my first days. On the first day, everything was going fairly well (obviously, I am far from perfect) until one student was returning her Social Studies textbook. She did not realize a girl was right behind her and when she lifted her textbook, she accidentally hit the other girl right under the eye. The offender apologized immediately and pointed it out that it was an instant mistake. Luckily, the girl who was hit came back to class a few minutes later with an ice pack. There was no bleeding or bruising, so the situation could have been far worse.
Today, I had bewildering incident. Normally, my students go to the bathroom twice a day, once in the middle of the morning and again right after recess. Upon returning from recess today, our normal bathroom was occupied by the Kindergarteners. Therefore, I told my students to use the middle school bathroom. The problems started when the boys bathroom was flooded, and none of the boys wanted to use it. However, most of them ended using it since they didn’t want to wait. But the bigger problem was with the girls. Half of the girls had never seen an automatic flushing toilet before, and it scared them. Therefore, they refused to use the bathroom. Since the Kindergarteners were still using the closest bathroom, we returned to our class to start math. I told my students that they could use their emergency bathroom signal if they really needed to go to the bathroom once the situation cleared up. Sadly, one girl didn’t say anything to me. The next thing I know I see urine on the floor underneath her desk. During this time, the rest of the class was in the midst of completing two worksheets, so most of the other students didn’t notice that we used a half roll of paper towels to clean up the mess.
I felt awful as a teacher that I couldn’t more than that to help this girl. I wanted to being very strict on my bathroom policy so I wanted my students in the room at all times. However, that’s simply not going to work with this group as I found out the hard way. Overall, teaching is about making adjustments. Right now, I am a struggling teacher that is getting through everyday alive, and my students are learning something. That’s more than I could say two months ago when I started Institute. That being said, I still need to keep improving my teaching skills. I am trying to learn as much as possible from the other 5th Grade teacher (who actually has 39 years of experience-more than I had previously thought), and she has been a willing helper. I have already stolen two dozen handouts from her, and that’s just the start. Despite these troubles, I’m excited for each new school day to start. I guess that’s a good sign?