Sunday, January 23, 2011

Student Teaching Shenanigans: The Unexpected Day

Let me paint a picture for you: It is a Friday (a Friday that could have been off for snow if we had gotten more than we did) with a room of 22 first graders, with occasional periods of snow outside.  And if that isn’t scary enough, imagine taking on all of them on your own with no lesson plans!

That, in a nutshell, is what happened to me.  The morning went well, few problems, then the kids went to lunch and that all changed!

My co-op wasn’t feeling so well (there is reportedly a stomach flu going around the school) and she decided that she should lay down for about 20 minutes after lunch.  Not a problem at all, I’ve gotten the kids at lunch before, totally cool. So I got the kids from lunch, took them on a bathroom break, and then brought them back to the room.  I had to make them sit with their heads down for 5 minutes because of bad behavior in the cafeteria, but after that, we started calendar. 

Halfway through calendar, my co-op walks in with sunglasses on (not a good sign).  Still not feeling well, she wants me to start a project with them for about a half hour why she tries to get her strength back.  She hands me a project to do with the kids, along with a book about butterflies.  So after calendar, I read a book to them about the butterfly life cycle.  With the help of 3 4th graders who come down some afternoons to help, I flubbed my way through the project, hoping that I was doing it right, since I really had no idea what I was doing.  While working on the project, I get a call from the nurse saying my co-op is feeling worse still and wants me to give the spelling test.  I tell her not a problem.

Once we get the project done, I give the spelling test.  A few words into it, a boy points out to me that most of the words are written on the board or under the vocab list (the spelling words were related to butterflies), so I thanked him for his honesty and took all the words down, shaking my head at myself.  After the spelling test, I look at the clock.  It was only 1:55, we had til 2:40 until the kids had to go to computer lab. I scrambled to find something for them to do, pulling out a morning work paper on time.  The children started to do the paper and then the guidance counselor walks in.  He tells me he is here to give the guidance lesson to the kids, which would last from 2 to about 2:35. Feeling kind of relieved to have another adult in the room for a short time, I had the children put the papers away and he took over for the guidance lesson.

This “down time” gave me a chance to grade some tests and run some errands I had to do.  Someone saw me in the hallway and asked if I had left the kids by themselves, which made me laugh (please, I am not that much of a rookie!). Watching the time and realizing I had to get the kids packed up and ready to go home, I made the executive decision that they would not be going to computer lab today, there was just not enough time, we would walk all the way to the other side of the building where it was (Claymont is a big school, used to be a high school) and once the kids were settled, they would have had about 3 minutes on the computer before dismissal. 

Once guidance was over, I had the kids pull out the worksheets and work on them for about 10 minutes before I had them pack up.  I had about half the class raises their hands to tell me they had to go to computer lab.  I tell them that there isn’t enough time and that we aren’t going to go. One boy, who had been bouncing on my last nerve like a trampoline all day, came up to me and insisted about 3 times that we had to go to computer lab. Let’s just say that by the end of the day, that boy owes me a whole weeks’ worth of recess. 

The end of the day comes (finally). The kids pack up, we play a short “I Spy” game, I walk them out to their buses and the day is over!!.....or so I thought…..

Me and my relieved self are walking back into the school, towards the library and the first grade hallway.  As I get to the hallway, I see a boy with a lollypop just standing in the front of the hallway staring at something. I stop to look and see relatively large drops of water falling relatively fast from some tiles in the ceiling.  Mind you, we have a second floor to the building, but I was pretty sure that there was not a bathroom right above that area.  Another teacher walks by and stops, turns to me and says, “Oh my, that can’t be good”.  I run to the office, which is just down the hall, and tell the two secretaries that there is a leak in the first grade hallway.  One pulls out the walkie talkie and the other gets on the intercom and calls a custodian to the area right away.  I run back out to where the drip is. 

After the intercom call, several teachers start to gather around me and the boy with the lollypop. (I turn to my fellow student teacher, Vinnie, and ask if he know who the heck the kid is.  I was finding it hilarious that this boy was just standing there, watching this, mesmerized.) One of the secretaries comes out to check the damage and I suddenly hear her go, “Oh my God, the Books!”  I knew what she meant as soon as she said it; the wall where part of the leak was belonged to the library! Right underneath the possible source of the leak was about 500 or so books!!

Being the book lover that I am, I run after her into the library and look for any damage.  We spot water dripping down one of the walls and decide that we better start moving the books out of the way, in case water starts coming in here too.  Some more teachers and my friend Vinnie came into the library to help.  One of the teachers pointed out that you could hear water rushing above where the one set of shelve were.  There was about 8 or so of us helping in all and it took between 5 and 10 minutes to move all of the books to a safe area.  Half way through moving the books, the library aide comes in the room and almost freaks out wondering what we are doing.  We explained to her and she came over and started helping too.  I felt so bad for her because it will take a long time to put the books back where they need to go, so Vinnie and I offered to come back after the weekend and help her put them back if she needed. 

I walked out of the library and checked on the leak, which was still steady, but the custodians were taking care of it now.  Some water was coming down the walls and ruining a few pieces of artwork by some third graders which was really sad, so I tried to move them a little.  Then I walked back to my classroom, sat down, and finished grading some tests. 

Overall, it was an incredibly insane day, one that I surely will not forget any time soon and one that few other student teachers can say they have experienced.


  1. WoW! That is quite a day! I did my student teaching quite sometime ago. My worst day certainly wasn't this bad, but my coop got very sick during the day. I was acutally also in a first grade classroom. Two of the kids had birthdays that day. We had one set up cupcakes in the morning and decided to do the second in the afternoon. My coop went home sick at lunch and I was on my own for the afternoon. As the kids came back from recess, we did a quick lesson and then the cupcakes. After the cupcakes, we went to the rug so I could read them a story. One of the girls walks up to me and asks to get a drink. As I say yes, she throws up right down the front of me. Let's just say, a stomach bug went through the class and two days after this, only 5 kids showed up for school! I think twice now when someone brings cupcakes to school! :-)

  2. Oh my Gosh! That sounds like a pretty awful day too!! All the experiences we have though, whether good or bad, help us to learn, and we certainly remember them! Thanks for sharing, I love hearing other teacher stories! :)

  3. Did you ever figure out who the little boy was? :)

  4. The one with the Lollypop? No, I never did. Funny story though, later I saw him following a couple teacher down the hallway. He was in a box that came to just above his knees and was hopping down the hallway in the box...quite a comical scene I must say!