Today was my first day student teaching at Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School in the Comal Independent School District. I was paired with a new cooperating teacher today and met her before classes began. It was a little awkward at first as we made our introductions and my teacher went back to what she was doing without explaining anything to me.
“Can I help you with anything?” I asked.
“Umm, no, not really,” she responded and returned to her work.
I placed my lunchbag on the floor and started taking off my raincoat.
“Oh, I don’t really have a place to hang your coat. I just have this closet,” my teacher explained as she opened a closet. Her coat and purse were inside and there were several free hangers, so I was a little confused as to why she said she had no place for my things. I hung up my coat and purse and placed my lunchbag on a shelf above the hangers. I then clutched my folder and pencil bag as I glanced awkwardly around the room. “Oh, I don’t really have a place for you to sit,” my teacher responded. “Some of the classes are a little large and take up all of the seats. Here, I’ll clear off a spot on my desk. Sorry it’s really messy,” she said as she cleared a stack of papers from the corner of her desk. Again, her desk was extremely well-organized matching her spotless classroom, so I didn’t think that she needed to apologize. She cleared a corner from her desk that was just big enough to place my folder down.
I felt really awkward right from the start and honestly, it never got better. It seemed from the very beginning that my cooperating teacher was indifferent about my presence. She seemed to ignore me as she didn’t explain much, tell me what she was doing, give me advice, or ask about myself. I’m not a strong chit-chatter, myself, so I would occasionally ask a question or make a remark, but after my teacher gave little back to respond on, the conversation would die and we would be in silence again.
Thankfully, the classroom that I am in is a dream; definitely the kind of room I would like to work in. Unlike my classroom at Canyon High School, the room was immaculate. Everything was completely organized, labeled, and color-coded. Each of the tables have a large colored sign hanging from the ceiling marking the table as “Blue,” “Red,” “Green,” or “Yellow,” and there were bins of markers, colored pencils, crayons, and other supplies each marked with a matching green, red, blue, or yellow tag. The markers were then organized into colored cups, all the red-colored markers in a red cup, the blues in a blue cup, and so on. As an incredibly organized person, myself, I felt ecstatic and right at home. I’ve heard people say that it’s just not possible to have an organized art room, but this proves otherwise.
Classes began and I was instantly shocked at the level of the students. I always underestimate elementary students of what they are capable of and at what level they can speak and act. The students knew to enter the classroom, sit on the rug, wait for instructions, go to their seats, and take the bins of supplies with the matching colors to their tables. I’m never around young people so it surprised me that they acted like small adults. Perhaps elementary won’t feel as much like babysitting as I was anticipating.
I was surprised with how my teacher acted, as well. She was very direct with the students and seemed a little harsh when she corrected their behavior. When a student misbehaved, her tone was strong, forceful, and a bit scary. She was quick to make her point clear. She also didn’t seem to teach how I expected an elementary teacher to teach. Her voice carried no enthusiasm as her tone stayed flat and her message sounded uninteresting. She seemed to talk to the young students like she would talk with anyone. If I had only heard the audio from her instruction, I would have guessed it came from a business meeting, not a kindergarten class.
Unfortunately, my teacher also seems to use a follow-me teaching style as I saw what the second grade students were working on. The students were creating Gustav Klimt pattern cats as they drew cats and then filled them with patterns and gold paint. The only issue was that every single student’s cat looked exactly the same. My teacher explained that she gave all of them a coffee lid to trace for the head and then had a step-by-step lesson to show them how to draw the rest of the cat’s body. The cats were really well drawn and were in an interesting pose that was large so that they could be filled with pattern, but the students didn’t have to put any thought into the drawing process. I feel that students should have the opportunity to flex their creative skills and draw their own cats, perhaps with small reference pictures to help.
As the day ended, today, I felt incredibly out of place at the elementary level. Everything went fine and nothing seemed challenging, I just didn’t enjoy the day as much as I did at Canyon High School. It may also be because I never felt comfortable with my cooperating teacher. She just didn’t seem to want me there or to know what to do with me. I never feel comfortable when I don’t have a place of my own, especially a chair with a desk. For some reason, I feel incredibly uncomfortable if I don’t have a desk to sit at, in all scenarios, so without somewhere to sit I felt awkward and unable to take notes. At my previous student teaching placement and even my internship before this I had at least a chair, which boosted my confidence.
I’m hoping that things will turn up. Hopefully my relationship with my cooperating teacher will improve and I’ll find my place in the classroom. I also hope to find enjoyment at the elementary level, especially since I’ll be here for almost two months and will be certified to teach at the elementary level. Let’s see how tomorrow goes.
First Day of School