Yesterday was Friday. On a typical Friday I am in my practicum class in the morning then I leave after lunch to go home and cram in as much of my own schoolwork as I can in the 2.5 hours before picking up Cody and Carter. I have only seen the Friday afternoon routine in the classroom once – during the first week of school when the routine was not yet in place. I know Fridays involve an art project and number line math but I have never seen it in action (yes, this is foreshadowing).
Yesterday I got to see what happens on a Friday afternoon in the classroom.
In fact, I got to do all the instructing and be the teacher in charge on that lovely Friday afternoon.
My mentor teacher had a family emergency and could not find a substitute teacher whom she knew and trusted to take over for the afternoon. She did not want to hand her students off to just anyone so I offered to fill in. Of course, since I am not an official teacher yet, someone needed to be in the classroom to be legally in charge in case something went South. There was some scrambling and that someone ended up being the school principal. And then a school principal in training joined her to hang out and watch too. And then, when they needed to leave, the school councilor became that someone.
And you know what? It was AWESOME. The worst part was waiting for the students to come in from recess, those moments before I stood up in front of them as the teacher. My stomach was in knots and my palms were sweaty. One of the other first grade teachers popped into the room in those moments to say she heard I was flying solo and she wished me well. The principal came in and sat down at the back table, her laptop open.
And then they came in. I had read (and reread) the substitute plans my mentor teacher had written up, so I was prepared. On the outside I was calm and teacher-like. Somewhere during that three hours a feeling came over me, a feeling I have not felt before. A feeling of being teacher-like. The change was subtle and I can’t even tell you honestly when it occurred.
We did math. We went to science (where I stayed and did my formal science observation for my science and math class). We made crumple paper turkeys. Art is not my forte so many of the students’ turkeys ended up looking nicer than mine but we all had fun, directions were followed, and the arts and crafts time chaos was mostly controlled. We had afternoon snack and sharing. We revisited our Monday learning target in math to count on using number lines and I made sure they all got their math homework in their backpacks before sitting on the rug for an end of the day story.
For the most part, and from my perspective, it all went smoothly. Apparently the principal decided to do a formal observation of me during that time (which is great – feedback is good) so I will find out if it went smoothly from her perspective when she sends me her notes.
I only wish that I had not stapled my finger in my rush to staple a fan of six paper tail feathers to each child’s paper turkey while the principal looked on.
I don’t think anyone noticed as I carefully detached my finger from a paper turkey rump and stopped the bleeding with a tissue.
Being able to write sentences like the one immediately above this one is just one of the many perks of becoming a teacher, in my opinion. So this morning I drink my coffee and reflect on my teaching while nursing a throbbing finger.