You’re On The Right Track Baby

| Learning | May 8, 2013

(I’m a student teacher in a Year 3 class. Most of the children have just attended an Easter play run for the kids who attend Christian scripture lessons.)

Student #1: “Do you like the K-2 play or the 3-6 play better?”

Student #2: “The 3-6 play! There are less annoying songs.”

Student #1: “Yeah, the K-2 songs are really gay.”

Student #2: “That’s not how you use the word gay!”

(Needless to say, I was a little proud of Student #2!)

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Fight (And Focus) On

| Learning | May 5, 2013

(As part of my work study, I work in a first grade inclusion classroom. One day, I’m wearing a University of Southern California sweatshirt when a young student approaches me. Note: he’s very bright, but has severe ADHD. He sees my sweatshirt and his eyes widen.)

Student: “Trojans? Is that a condom shirt?!”

Me: “No-no, it’s… the mascot is the soldiers from the Trojan War.”

Student: “A condom war?!”

Me: “Not quite. It was the Greeks and the people of Troy and&mdash how about I bring you the story tomorrow? It’s not time to talk right now and we’ll get in trouble.”

(Needless to say, I found a child-friendly story on the Trojan War for my precocious first grader. Now, bringing him extra tidbits of knowledge, from Spanish vocabulary words to how Vincent VanGogh died, is a major incentive to keep him focused!)

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That Should Teach Them A Lesson

| Learning | May 3, 2013

(I am a student teacher in a sixth grade classroom. My host teacher, while outwardly very nice, has been unable to give me proper guidance that will allow me to pass the course and become a certified teacher. After talking it over with an official from my college, I decide that the best course of action is to leave the placement and start over somewhere else. My host teacher is unhappy to hear this news and insists that I stay longer. Unfortunately, I get the feeling that she wants me to stay for her benefit and not for mine. After telling her of my final decision to leave, the following exchange occurs.)

Host Teacher: “So you’re leaving for sure?”

Me: “Yes. Monday will be my last day.”

Host Teacher: “Alright. Well, do you think you can tell me what to look for in future student teaching candidates so I know what kinds of red flags to look for before taking in a student teacher for next time?”

Me: *taken aback* “No, I really couldn’t say.”

Host Teacher: “Well, when you leave on Monday, before you go I want you to tell the class exactly why you’re leaving: that you’ve been having trouble adjusting to becoming a teacher at this level, and I want you to ask the students for ‘feedback’ as to how you can do better for next time. Because honestly, your teaching has caused some laughter amongst the students, and I’ve had to intervene with them more than once.”

(A coworker of hers, who has been privy to the conversation, decides to interject.)

Co-Worker: “You know, not everyone is cut out to be a teacher. I’ve seen a lot of teachers and I can tell you don’t have what it takes. You should become a parapro instead.”

Me: *stunned* “Thanks. I’ll look into it.”

(I manage to hold back my tears and get out of the school as quickly as possible. Monday rolls around and it comes time for me to say goodbye to the children.)

Me: “I have something very important that I need to say. Today will be my last day as your student teacher. They need me to move to another school. It has been a pleasure getting to know all of you and I wish you all the best.”

(The children are surprised at the news and seem sad to see me go. My teacher is shocked that I did not scorn myself in front of them, and proceeds to verbally berate me after the class lets out to go to art, music, and gym.)

Host Teacher: “I can’t believe you did this! You didn’t do like we talked about at all! How dare you blame the college for your behavior! You need to take ownership for your mistakes! These children are my life and I am going to clean up the mess you made after they come back! YOU NEED TO TAKE OWNERSHIP!”

(She then writes a nasty email to the head of the university about how I need to think of the children and that I need to put their needs before mine. Fortunately, after hearing my side of the story, the head of the department agrees that facing 28 sixth graders and asking them to critique my teaching style would have been difficult, and places me in another school. Six months later, I am now in a kindergarten classroom with a teacher I love, children I adore and am about to graduate with a degree in elementary education, with honors. Not cut out to be a teacher, indeed.)

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Respect Is The Name Of The Game

| Learning | April 24, 2013

(I work with a group of ten second grade girls in a literacy class called GirlSMART. All of them are English learners, but most of them don’t have a hard time speaking the language. One girl, however, will lapse back into Spanish just because she feels like it.)

Student: “¡Oy! ¡Necesito ayuda, maestra!”

Me: *patiently* “Now, [student], I know calling me ‘maestra’ can be considered polite, but you know that I like to be called Miss [name]. Okay?”

Student: “Okay, maestra.”

(She proceeds to crack jokes in Spanish, not thinking I can understand her. I decide to prod at her.)

Me: “¡Oy! ¡Estudiante! ¿Todavía necesitas ayuda?”

Student: *in English* “Did you just call me ‘student?'”

Me: “Yes. Because if you’re not going to call me by my actual name, I’m not going to call you by yours.”

(She’s been calling me ‘Miss [name]’ and speaking in English ever since.)

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It Pays To Be Nice

| Learning | April 23, 2013

(I am working at an after school program and my kids have a nasty habit of always asking me to buy them stuff.)

Student #1: “You should give out iPods as prizes.”

Me: “No, [Student #1], I couldn’t do that.”

Student #1: “Why not?”

Me: “Well, to be honest, it’s too expensive. I don’t even buy a lot of nice stuff for myself.”

Student #1: “You’re so selfish! I bet you have a lot of money!”

(Finally, the only nice student I have speaks up.)

Student #2: “Be quiet! If she had money to buy you an iPod, why would you spend it on you? You’re so mean!”

(The nice student got an extra gold star that day.)

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