Everything I Know I Learned in Pre-K

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 22 2011

I survived week one?

The question is because it’s something of a shock, really. While I’ve been “teaching” since late September, I only got my own classroom on Monday. I’m back at the second school I was placed at, since the third didn’t have a classroom for me and I was acting as a floater. In some ways, it’s awesome to come into a classroom that’s already set up, where the kids know where everything is, and my assistant teacher knows the room and the kids. In other ways, it’s not that great; I don’t know where anything is, it’s hard to implement new patterns when I should be glad that this group of 4 year olds understands anything of what’s happening during the day in the first place, and instead of starting off in a strong place, I don’t yet have the trust of my assistant or my kids. Not that I blame them, since I’m the third or fourth teacher who has been in the class this year, but it’s not exactly a great way to start off.

Oh, yeah, and I’ve already lost a kid. By that I mean that his mother has decided she would rather not have him in school (which is her right, since in New York State, children no longer have to be in school until the 1st grade) than have him in my class. In my defense, no one, and I mean no one was on her side for this one. Monday was my first day, and her son was suspended before 10am for standing on another student’s head, and then kicking and punching another student in the stomach. When he returned to school on Thursday, he was causing disruptions and behavior problems in the whole class. As we went to centers, I sent him to table toys so he could have some time to sit and cool off, but he decided he wanted to go to the sand area. Aside from physically pulling him from the center, there was very little I could do, and he played as well as threw sand, until the end of the center time. He got sand EVERYWHERE… on the other students playing in the area, on the floor, and as a final insult, he threw it at me. When his mother came to pick him up right after nap time, she began yelling at me about the sand that was in his hair, and how his eyes were red so he must have gotten sand in them. In front of 17 other students and an assistant, she began yelling about how he could have gone blind, and how I should use physical force with him when he doesn’t listen. Well, I don’t know about you, but it is not in my job description that I can or should use physical force with a 4-year-old! By Friday (which was the only day he was in school for the whole day), she decided to sign the papers permanently pulling him out of the school, because she wants to find a pre-k that will not let him play in the sand and where teachers will hit him when necessary.

I am sad that I have already lost a student who truly needed my help. However, given the overwhelming conditions under which I am already working, it is very much a relief to no longer have him in my class. Going from Tuesday and Wednesday when he was on suspension, the dynamic in the class is very different when he is not around. Not that the class is all that easy… there are numerous behavior and emotional issues in my class… but that without him, there is a certain calm, and the ability to control the other students.

So yeah, I survived my first full week as a real teacher. It was crazy (and I honestly thought about quitting) but hopefully it will get better.

One Response

  1. aea107

    Do not be sad that you lost this student. I guarantee you that if his behavior was this bad on your first day, it would get infinitely worse as the class gets more comfortable with you. You are very lucky the student’s mother removed him before you had to make the case that he be forcibly removed from your classroom by the school or district. Hopefully, his mother will enroll him in a special school with the resources to help this child get the support and help that he clearly needs.

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