There are so many updates to give and so little time in which to think about them.
The first day of fall break, I went to school in the morning to get some things organized and under control because my pregnant co-teacher said she had about a 25% chance of returning to school after break because of the baby. My door was locked. I emailed the operations manager and she unlocked my door that evening, but I drove an hour and a half round trip for nothing and I was really frustrated by the whole thing.
The second day of fall break, I went into my room again and I started to re-organize everything that has driven me crazy from day 1. I felt really good about all my systems until I found the file that my co-teacher had been keeping with all of her itemized complaints about me from August. Evidently, she disliked me to the extent that she was keeping documentation to get me fired. I ended up telling my MTLD and my school-appointed mentor about it because I felt like I had this awful dirty secret, but I don’t plan on telling my co-teacher that I saw it. Our relationship took a decided turn for the better after I decided to stop being terrified of her and just teach the damn class.
After a decidedly unrestful fall break that involved family emergencies and a funeral, I got back to school and three days later my co-teacher went into pre-term labor so now she’s on bedrest. I’m officially in charge of my classroom until my co-teacher’s maternity leave is over in probably early February, and I’m going to be teaching with a short-term sub and then a long-term sub when they can get one arranged.
I was terrified to go in on my own because my kids have, in the past, been incredibly unresponsive to me as a sole authority. Surprisingly, things have gone really smoothly. The first day my co-teacher was gone, I had two parent volunteers in all day, which was amazing. It was especially helpful because the sub I was given was absolutely useless, and one of the volunteers actually started teaching math meeting when it was clear the sub wasn’t going to (I was teaching a small-group math lesson at the time). It was bad, guys. At one point a kid threw up on the carpet, and instead of being sent to sit at the empty tables at the back of the room, the kids all clustered around the mess and they started yelling to me across the room that someone was sick.
And then there are my two current projects.
One of the kids I’m currently investing a lot of time and energy into is a foster kid whose dad just died of terminal cancer. He’s a train wreck, and totally understandably. He’s sad but he doesn’t know how to handle it because he’s five, and it’s coming out in a lot of resistance to following directions. Then he totally shuts down and refuses to do anything when he’s exposed to any redirection at all, and I’m trying to figure out how to maintain high behavioral expectations while giving him the space and love he needs.
My other project was suspended today for the second time. She has LOTS of problems following directions and throws a temper tantrum immediately after any redirection. Her first instinct is to sit under the table. She sulks, she pouts, she kicks and screams, and her favorite thing to do is turn off all the computers in the classroom to show me that she can do what she wants. She takes lots of breaks in other classrooms – all the kinder classrooms have the same schedule so we can just send her from one room to the next to keep her moving without sacrificing any learning time. Today she was sent to the Dean by another teacher when she was at lunch, and it was her last warning before another suspension.
Her mom has been my crash course in parent communication. I had a really awkward phone call at one point with her that ended with me in tears and another teacher taking over the call, and I try to call almost every day with a positive so that this kid can talk to her mom about the good choices she’s making. The problem is that she can only make good choices when all the attention is on her, and it’s all positive all the time. The second I take my eyes off her to deal with the kid pretending to sing opera in the corner, it goes downhill. Her mom gets positive calls from me in the morning, and by the afternoon everyone is exhausted and the behavior slips considerably and she ends up under the table again. Or screaming in the hallway.
I am exhausted, but I finally feel like I have control over my classroom. I finally feel like an authority figure, and not just an assistant.