It was the morning of the second day of school. The school I student taught at called me and told me they needed a teacher that day for a fourth grade class. I grabbed literally nothing from my house and drove as fast as I could there. It was around 11:00 when I arrived in the office. The secretary gave me a room number and sent me searching for the room. I walked in to total chaos. There was no adult in the classroom doing anything to control the craziness. The desks were all over the place, there was crumpled trash all over the floor, the students were sitting on top of the desks talking or arguing in small groups. When I walked in, they ignored me completely.
I eventually got their attention but it took a lot of yelling. Then a substitute, that had been a teacher for a very long time but apparently had not been a very good one, came in and told me she would be my aide. At this point, I did not know how much of a problem she would be. I didn’t have any plans for the day and fell back on my camp counselor procedures. I knew o had to get everyone moved in and settled. I gave very specific instructions for the students to unpack their book bags and where to put all of their things.
The other teacher didn’t think this was what we should be doing so she started teaching a lesson about history. I waited for a break in her speech and managed to get everything unpacked. Then I wanted the students to make name tags for their desks but they would not listen to me. They just kept talking. The other teacher started giving directions again but it was all nonsense. The students ignored her too. I got their attention again with much yelling. I had to think on my feet of a reward that would interest them enough that they would behave. I explained that if they could make it through the day without me putting their name on the board for misbehaving they would be able to watch a short video during class the next day. All of a sudden the desks were straight the kids were sitting in them and they were quiet.
Except for about six boys who had crammed their desks into a group and were scooting them around like a school of fish would move. Then the music teacher came in. It would have been a nice break for the kids to sing a song with him if they had done any work that day. Instead it just caused them to get more crazy. I almost had things under control and I had completely lost it in that moment. Finally I got out paper and markers, only there was no construction paper like I had hoped. It was all butcher paper with bulletin boards painted on it. I pulled it out anyway. I suppose I thought it would force them to be more creative. They got to making their nametags. Finally, we were going to get the day started!
Then, halfway through name tag making the end of school bell rang. The kids put up their crayons, grabbed their bookbags, and left. I went down to the office to use the computer there because there was no computer in my classroom. I was at school until 6:00 filling out paperwork for the school and then went home to do a plan for what would happen the next day.
And that is why I woke up sweating this morning. I always have these nightmares where everything goes wrong and I panic my way through situations and I have to think on my feet. The crazy thing is that now that my heart isn’t pounding in my throat and I can breathe normally, I actually liked most of the kids in the class. I must be that desperate for a job.
Hopefully, my real first day will go a little better than that. I am trying to be prepared in case I end up getting a call like that on the second day of school and have to go in and wing it.