Today was my second day acting as the primary teacher and teaching all of the classes in my student teaching experience at the elementary school. Just like yesterday, I felt confident, comfortable, and successful. The day was also more enjoyable and I felt more involved and like I belonged. It looks like this is going to be a good week.
The day did begin a little rocky, however.
Today was the second day of the S.T.A.A.R. Testing this week and the 3rd grade students began to test. Unfortunately, the art classroom flanks a 3rd grade classroom and we can often hear each other through the walls. Because of that, I told my first class of 2nd grade students that we would be keeping the class at a Level 1 voice level. I monitored the class and quieted them whenever they began to become too loud. It was difficult as they needed constant reminding. At the end of the class period when the teacher was picking up her students, the principal came by the room and spoke with my cooperating teacher. Afterwards, my cooperating teacher told me that administration had received a noise complaint from the 3rd grade room we were flanking. I was surprised as the art room never really got that loud, but I decided to keep all of the classes at a Level 0 voice level, absolutely no talking, until the end of S.T.A.A.R. Testing.
The next class was Kindergarten and I told them about keeping the class at a Level 0. Again, it was difficult because the students needed constant reminding and we needed to silence anyone who began to talk immediately before it began to spread and grow. It was also no fun conducting an art class in complete silence. I feel like it was draining for the students, as well, especially because they were having to be completely silent in the halls, as well.
Another fact that didn’t help the noise level was the fact that the library was being used to administer S.T.A.A.R. tests so the library class was not an option in the Specials rotation of classes. All the classes that were supposed to have library class today were split up with a few students having gym class, a few having music, and few joining the class we already had at art. This meant that in each of our Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade classes we had about 6-8 extra students. We don’t even have enough table and chair space for extra students, so we had to sit these students on the rug and give them an alternate assignment, especially since they’d be coming to art again that week during their normally-scheduled time and we didn’t want them to get ahead of their classes too much.
The final schedule change was with the 3rd-5th grade students. Because they were testing in the mornings, all of their art classes were moved to the afternoon class periods. Because we only have two class periods after noon, though, they shortened the class periods to 30 minutes in order to fit three class periods. In the two classes that were starting new lessons, 30 minutes felt incredibly short, but for the 4th grade class in which they were continuing a past assignment, the class actually felt incredibly long. I thought that this phenomenon was odd, but perhaps it’s just because I get absorbed into instruction and tend to enjoy it while I don’t like the “walking around monitoring the class as they work” part of the day.
The new lessons that the 3rd and 5th grade students were starting were optical illusions. Interestingly, when I created teacher-made examples for these lessons, I felt that the 5th grade optical illusion was much easier to create than the 3rd grade one. I shared this thought with my cooperating teacher and she couldn’t remember why she had chosen one lesson for 3rd grade and the other for 5th grade. Even more strange, was the fact that the 5th grade students actually struggled with the illusion that I felt was incredibly simple and easy to make. Either I need to adjust my instruction, or the lesson plans are suitably selected for each grade and I just personally find that lesson easier than the 3rd grade one.