Drive-Thru Students

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

Today was my second day at Comal Independent School District’s Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School. I started off feeling incredibly moody and tired and even went to school wearing my glasses instead of my contacts. It was difficult for me to adjust to the high school schedule because it’s earlier than I’ve been used to these last 5 years or so, and now I’m having to adjust to the even earlier elementary school schedule. When my body is allowed to sleep whenever it likes, such as during the summer breaks, my normal sleeping schedule is 4:00am to noon. I am very much a night owl and find myself drowsy in the afternoon-evenings, but then instantly wide awake around 8:00pm. It can be hard for me to get to sleep early and wake up in the early mornings. I have always known that this would be a challenge for me when I enter the professional world and even wrote it as my biggest concern for student teaching during training.

Today seemed to go pretty much the same as yesterday did. Unfortunately, my cooperating teacher still didn’t really seem to open up to me. It still feels cold and awkward between the two of us and I don’t know what to do to warm it up. Whenever we speak, the conversation quickly comes to a halt and we’re in silence again. Another big issue is that I’m a workaholic and a fidgeter. I must be doing something at all times, preferably something productive. This has been an issue my whole life and I’ve had several teachers and professors address me about multitasking in their classes. When I’m listening to a lecture, I have to use my hands, such as writing notes, drawing pictures, or working on something else, like filling out my planner, writing a shopping list, etc. If I’m not doing anything, I start to zone out and stop listening or I’ll get nervous and can’t think about anything but the desire to do something. Thankfully, after speaking with my instructors, they’ve always allowed me to continue because I’m an accomplished student and still answer questions, take part in discussions, and earn high grades. This nervous tick was driving me crazy today, though, as I again felt as if I had nothing to do.

When I was student teaching at Canyon High School, I felt I had plenty to do. When my teacher didn’t ask me to take attendance, sign hall passes, grade papers, enter grades into the gradebook, or make copies, I could manage her rowdy classes, help students with their artworks, create examples for the lessons, organize and clean the room, or even just sit at my desk and work on something, such as taking notes or filling out my planner or reflection journal. I had my own personal workspace and I felt completely comfortable, welcome, and free to do anything.

Around the second or third class period, after feeling as if I had nothing to do in a well-managed, completely clean and organized class in which the students and teacher didn’t need any help, I decided to sharpen all of the colored pencils and clean out the colored pencil bins of shavings and dust. Still able to observe the class, I brought a small trash can to where the colored pencils were located and faced the class while I hand-sharpened every last colored pencil in the room. I can tell you that my hands were rubbed raw by the end of it, but several class periods had gone by and I was in a much better mood. My teacher also mentioned that the students would appreciate my work. I figured this would also help my teacher as yesterday we had a few issues of students sharpening both sides of the pencils for fun or simply sharpening pencils just to waste time or because they were fascinated with the pencil sharpener. Now that all of the colored pencils are sharpened, though, I’m not sure what I’ll be able to do.

Today was also my first experience with dismissal duty as I joined my cooperating teacher outside the front of the school after the school day had ended. She instructed me to stand by one of the five colored poles and collect tickets from students before opening the car doors for them. She told me not to buckle the students into their seats, but to simply open and close the doors. I had never seen anything like this system before and was completely mesmerized. After the students came out of the classrooms, they gathered by the school’s walls by grade level. A mobile speaker was brought out and the gym teacher began reading off the names of students from signs posted in the windshields of their parents’ cars into a microphone. “Carlos Mendoza go to Blue. Susan Harrison go to Yellow,” she would announce.

I couldn’t help but think of a fast food drive-thru.

A parent would drive up to the school and flash a sign with his student’s name on it, then we would prepare the student and by the time the parent drove up to the crosswalk at the entrance, the student was ready to hop into the car and drive away. I know that this system is meant to boost efficiency, but it still seemed odd to me. The parents didn’t even have to get out of their cars as we did all of the work for them. Drive-thru students, I’ve just never heard of it before.

At least this pick-up system will help me learn the students’ names.

<< Monday, March 9, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Wednesday, March 11, 2015 >>

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