18 November 2010

Lessons in Patience

So I mentioned a post or two ago that I had begun substitute teaching in one of the elementary schools here on post. Since then, I have been called almost non-stop! This week I had a class everyday; 2nd grade Monday and Tuesday, 3rd on Wednesday, and kindergarten today. I have learned quite a few lessons...

A) I am not cut out for elementary school. The insane organization included (more so in the lower grades) as well as walking the line between nuture/discipline is so difficult! I know this will be a line I'll walk even in secondary classrooms, but it's a little easier to me to discipline a sassy 16 year-old than a doe-eyed child who is just rambunctious!

B) I get frustrated giving directions 14 times...in a row. One of the teachers assigned an hour long math assignment in the book; I thought once I explained it to a quiet classroom they would all begin to work diligently. Well, turns out they don't know what diligently means, much less how to follow initial directions...I think every child asked me this question: "What are we doing?" I took a lot of deep breaths yesterday.

C) Kids learn to lie very early on! They are so devious! You learn quickly which ones are trustworthy and the ones who want to just leave class and "go to the library"...

D) Praying for patience means you will get opportunities to practice it. Literally, this morning I was reflecting on how I needed to see this subbing opportunity as a chance to love on these kids as the Lord loves them, and that I need to have more patience with them in general. So, I put on a cute teacher outfit, complete with hose (sorry, it's November and cold and I can only think about my grandmother admonishing me if I didn't wear it! ha!), a black skirt, my little black flats, and a cute cardigan. I then walked into the office, expecting to get put with 4th or 5th graders, since this has yet to happen...and then my biggest fear came true: the word kindergarten came out of the receptionist's mouth. I laughed. Out loud. Oh but this gets better.

So the kindergarten/specials (music, art, etc) hallway is getting new furniture, so all the classes had to be vacated and the teachers had to move out all of their supplies-this is a large order for them! So instead of being in their normal classroom, my class and another kindergarten class were combined in the gym. By the way, the gym is separated by a cloth curtain and the cafeteria is on the other side...this became a problem at lunch time...

In all reality, the day went way better than I ever intended! Having the other class there actually helped out, and I did have an aid. The real teachers were in the school building moving their classrooms, so they came down periodically to check in on us. I had two problem kids that were difficult to deal with, but they improved over the day! One hilarious thing: one of the kids had his jeans on backwards--and they were zipped and buttoned! We made him turn them around in case he really really needed to go to the bathroom and was stuck in his pants! Considering the craziness of the day, this kids did pretty well, especially when I said "1, 2, 3, eyes on me!" and they countered: "1, 2 eyes on you!". We worked all day on kindergarten things, like practicing our R's and N's, coloring, and doing various centers that worked with fine motor skills and thinking strategies. All in all, kindergartners turned out not to be as scary to teach as I thought!

Each class has two PIE partners (Partner in Education) who are soldiers who partner with the class for the entire year. Well, today was "Incredibly Terrific Kid Day". The soldiers brought in this huge package and handed out letters to each of the kids. We split up into groups and the kids could choose one letter for one of the adults to read. The letters were from their parents, daycare workers, the teacher, the principal, grandparents, and other important adults in their lives. The first one I read was from a dad...terrible idea. I was crying as I read the letter--it was absolutely the sweetest letter I have ever read. It talked about what a great kid he was, how he was proud of him for not giving up in soccer when many of his teammates quit, how he was such a supportive brother, and how much he loved him--does that not make you want to just bawl? The others were just as sweet--thankfully, all the other teachers were tearing up too! I'm sure we did this in elementary school but oh, it was the sweetest thing-I'm tearing up now as I think about it! And these kids were so excited about the letters--it was such a surprise for them! Their smiles were so big as they heard all these positive things about themselves! It was really neat to get to be a part of something like that.

Moral of the Story: praying for patience (or any other spiritual discipline...) leads to practical application. (Duh, I know, but it was sooner than I expected! :) )

And how perfect was it that Glee was about a substitute teacher this week?? :)

I have tomorrow off and can I say that I am estactic about that? This week has worn me out! Each day except today I have had something after school. On Monday and Wednesday, I rushed out of school after the bell rang, jumped in my car, drove to Auburn, sat through class, and came back...those were long days. Tuesday night we had a Thanksgiving dinner with all of the ESL students, which was so much fun! We had over 100 people come and some amazing food. I only ate Hispanic food...ha! One of my students is going to teach me how to make some authentic Salvodoranian (spelling?) food and I'm pumped about it!

We are headed to Starkville this weekend for one last hoorah, and we are so excited! All of Brian's old roommates as well as a lot of friends are going to be in town, and it's going to be a great weekend!

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