Sunday, October 28, 2012

A sad classroom....

Let me preface this by saying that I work in the richest areas and the poorest areas of my city, in 12 different districts.  I have seen a wide range of differences in students and classrooms. 

I accepted a half day job in third grade for Thursday.  I walked into the classroom at 11am.  When I opened the door I saw a mess of a classroom, students running, screaming, pushing and shoving.  The teacher was at his desk and jumped up with his coat and started toward the door.  As he came up to me a student walked up and said, "Are you the substitute, you look like a B*TCH."  Teacher just rolled his eyes and pointed to the table.  "There are three piles, Reading, Science and Math"  They are pretty self explanatory.  The kids can do them independently, just read them the story I marked in the book."  He then waled out.  He came back and handed me two pens.  "These are for the whiteboard, don't let the kids get their hands on them."

That was it.  No plans, no written schedule, nothing.  I did discover later that there was a schedule on the board, but the times had been erased by a student. 

First I called the office to get the schedule for lunch, bells, etc.  Then I attempted to corral all of the students back to their seats.  They were supposed to be working on an art project, but I only saw three students working on it.  As we got closer to lunch I tried to get their attention long enough to get them to start cleaning up.  Mostly because the classroom was a complete disaster.  There was paper all over the floor, plus scissors, pencils, markers, crayons, and food.  I got most of their attention when I turned off the lights.  They sort of started to clean up, because they wanted to go to lunch.  It still took them over 20 minutes to get the majority of the junk off the floor, but most of it just ended up on the tables.  I attempted to get them lined up and while I was doing that a truly disturbing incident happened that I will not go into here.  I had to make a DHS report and talk with the superintendent about it.

 I finally got the students to lunch and the office and went back to the classroom.  Once it was empty and quiet I could see just how sad this room really was.  It was filthy, and not just from today.  There was NOTHING on the walls, except old mismatched paint.  The book shelves were a mess with torn books thrown here and there, but mostly empty.  The books were mostly Kindergarten and First grade picture books with a few Sweet Valley High thrown in.  There were NO TEXT books anywhere.  There were a few piles of work books.  There were two large shelves that had absolutely nothing on them, but a few small, mostly empty bins of supplies. 

When the kids came back from lunch I sat them down on the rug and shared with them my expectations, and my complete wiliness to give out referrals, or send non cooperating students right to the office.  Things somewhat calmed down and we were actually able to get through one and a half assignments in the rest of the day.

After school I spent and hour and a half cleaning in the classroom, going to the supply room and replenishing their supplies, organizing books, and leaving a LONG note for the teacher about the day.

I also went to talk to the principal, who wasn't there today.  Instead I spoke privately with the secretary to let her know the state of this classroom.  She agreed that the principal needs to get down there and see how that class is actually run.

On some level I wish he would quit and I would get hired in that classroom.  My teacher instinct is to care for those kids and teach them something.  It seems that in the current situation it will be a hard year for them and their potential for learning.

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