Monday, February 25, 2008

News From 2nd Grade: Frustration and Failure

Well, today was bad. Just not good. As the start of my experience week it's really not looking positive, and all I can think is that if the rest of the week goes this badly I'll quit. For one thing, I didn't have my center activities done (something I intend to remedy as soon as I can tonight) and that made the kids less than agreeable during private reading time (which despite its name is really "get up and socialize" time, unless they're kept busy with work instead of being left to read -_-). For another thing, I was supervised today.

My supervisor never tells me when he's going to show up, which means that preparing for him being in the classroom never happens. I never have extra materials to give him and my desk (which he happily seats himself at, to my annoyance whenever I have to reach under his briefcase for papers) is always messier than I'd like it to be. Today was classically bad and since he's never seen me on a sparkling, shiny, happy, good day, he has come to the conclusion that I'm not doing so well as a teacher. My coop doesn't think I'm doing so great either. Currently, my grade is maybe a high C - pretty unacceptable for a student who is supposed to be leaving the classroom for an environmental science center in 10 days. And my supervisor told me today that he doesn't think I'll make it.

In other words, I'll probably be "asked" (read: forced under penalty of failing) to stay at the school all semester while I improve, because I'm not making improvements fast enough, however steady said improvements are, to keep up with, let alone surpass the other students in the building. And since they'll be here all semester and I won't, I'm supposed to be doing twice as well as they are.

I feel like a failure. I admit I think I'm over my head because I have had to move so fast through this but the science center was what was keeping me from losing it the last few weeks, because I don't think I can stand to spend another 8 weeks in a classroom. I'm not planning on being a teacher; I don't expect to get a teaching job fresh out of IUP especially not if my grade in student teaching is a B or worse. I won't be able to compete. I don't want to compete. I just want a decent sub position until I can get my masters' and move on to a quiet little library somewhere. They're treating this as if I was going to spend the next 30 years of my life in a classroom and need to do all my improving right now... and I want to tell them that no, actually, I'm only in this until I graduate, but thanks for the advice anyway and I'll try to do my best till I leave.

Except that at my best I'm still a disorganized, under confident, quiet little nothing who's too nice to the kids some days and too bitchy on others and I can't seem to keep them quiet (although the coop can't keep them quiet either, it's not always me). I'm frustrated and I'm worried that I'm going to be told that I can't go to McKeever, even if I try my hardest the next two weeks. My supervisor has already pretty much made up his mind, so I'm working against that as well - he's just not optimistic about my future. And right now, neither am I. I'm lost and I'm horrified that no matter how hard I try I will never be good enough to get to where I really need to be.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

News From 2nd Grade, Weeks 3-5.

Oh my goodness, I've survived FIVE weeks in a classroom! I'm slowly improving, although my co-op and I agree that at this point my grade would still be a C, because I really do need to work on my class management skills. This is a class that needs to be micromanaged because they've been babied for all 7 years of their short lives and they still don't know what "stay on task" means... but they're slowly starting to respond more to me as a teacher and I'm feeling much more comfortable teaching my lessons now that I have someone to back me up and make sure that I'm consistent with my teaching, instead of jumping all over the place. I've started taking little liberties with things but for the most part am still working right from the curriculum guides. My coop says: "The way I see it is this: Are you certified in Curriculum Design? No. So you shouldn't be making it up until you've had some practice. This stuff is proven to be an effective teaching guide, so I don't care if you copy it." She's gotten me to write a few of my own lesson plans and so far, so good, but she's perfectly happy to let me use the books, as long as I don't have to read them for directions during the lesson.

I've now taught two "Experience Days" (full days in the classroom) and they wear me out. I don't know how the heck the teacher does it all. I'm still working out proper order to do things in, what time exactly the kids should be settled and in their seats, making a smooth transition from morning work to the spelling lesson to the special, prep for math, etc... remembering all the times takes me a while still, but I've gotten the general order down now and that helps. And I'm getting slowly more consistent with my management techniques and my instructions. So now the kids will get more consistent with their responses, right?

The kids had fun on Valentine's day. Last week we had two 2-hour delays and one snow day, and absences all week, and yet on Thursday (Party day) they all came filing happily into the room with excuses about being ill and not being able to come to school due to the weather on Wednesday. *le sigh* I didn't have quite so much fun, since there was too much sugar and not enough concentration, but my science lesson went very well (I tried micromanaging, and explaining everything 3 times over, and 3/4 of the kids actually listened very well, which floored me). I did get a pile of candy plus several cute valentines, one of which was labeled "To Mrs. Fae and Mr. Fae"... I cracked up, of course... a few of them still call me "Mrs. Fae" all the time, despite the board (and me) saying "Ms. Fae". Ah well, they're only 7.

Next week, I'll teach a lot more (I think I may do the whole week, except for math and some reading centers!) and the week after that is my genuine, honest-to-goodness, teaching everything Experience Week before I leave. Oh, dear... 3 weeks till I'm done here! Then it's on to the Environmental Center and a lot of outdoor fun in the early spring slush.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Rainbows are expensive these days.

In case you haven't heard yet...

I got rear-ended as part of a 4-car accident driving home today just a little way up the road from the LAST time my sister and I were rear-ended, and it was the fault of one young driver not paying attention.

Here I am driving home, it starts raining, I slow down (of course, because I usually try to be as safe as I can) and am just minding my own business when I see a GORGEOUS OMG WOW LOOK AT THAT RAINBOW! stretching across town in front of me. I considered seeing if my camera would be able to start up in time (it's an old digital) but I couldn't get it out of my bag at the red light, so I left it alone - "I know better than to fiddle with things in the car while I'm driving," I told myself. Apparently a lot of other drivers were looking at the sky too, because traffic slowed down a lot ahead of me at one of the lights. Things came to a stop pretty quickly and so did I (as carefully as I could though, considering there was someone behind me and I really didn't want to stop so fast that she hit me or slid on the damp road), the nice lady behind me stopped ok, and I thought I was safe, but something didn't quite feel right for a half-second... and the guy behind her? THUDSQUEALCRUNCH. He hit her, she slammed into me and ruined the rear end of my car, I slid forward and tapped the guy ahead of me. If I hadn't been stomping the brakes, his car probably would've been nudged quite a bit harder.

Needless to say, a lot of very loud, unhappy words escaped my mouth at this point...

So when everyone has pulled over, the police are notified and everything's checked out, total damage: Car #1 (guy in front of me) has maybe some red paint on his rear bumper, if that. I (#2 in line) have no trunk left. The crumple zone on a Civic does its job, but when its job is done there's not really anything pretty left on the rear end. My tail lights are non-functional (one shattered and fell out completely) and my trunk is shorter by several inches. The lady in the SUV behind me (#3) had a bit of damage to her grille/radiator, and some crumpling in the back but nothing a body shop couldn't flatten out, and the last guy (#4 and the cause of our accident) had a bit of an accordion for a hood - his car got towed by the friendly AAA people who just happened to be driving by and thought they might offer a hand (I sure hope they don't charge him too much for the help!). I didn't see the full damage to his SUV but I know his airbags went off and he hit his head on something and was bleeding a bit at the temple - they took him away to the hospital.

Does this mean rainbows aren't good luck after all?

So our car and my only source of transportation currently is totaled (or probably totaled, we're waiting for the insurance company to decide on that) and I have to get to my student teaching placement still... for the next few weeks I can probably carpool with someone else who is there, but halfway through the semester I am switching placements to somewhere pretty far away and I don't think I'll be able to have someone drive me up and back every weekend. This pretty much ruins any plans I had of seeing my fiance during that 8-week placement unless we can find a replacement car and since neither of us is working right now I don't think we can even lease one (not that we could afford that anyway). This is really depressing to me and I'm really upset about not being able to finish my student teaching placement without relying on other people - and especially about not having any freedom to come and go at my second placement (an environmental science center in the middle of nowhere) without pre-arranging rides with other people. There isn't anyone else from my class going there this semester so getting there at all is going to be a challenge. :/

But at least I got to see a rainbow. *sigh*