Student Teaching Reflection: Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S.T.A.A.R. Testing

S.T.A.A.R. Testing

Today was the last day of S.T.A.A.R. Testing for this week and the end of the crazy schedule changes for the most part. As for schedule changes, today was exactly like yesterday with the older students having art classes in the afternoon with shortened periods and the younger students having art class in complete silence.

Surprisingly, I’ve found that the Kindergarten students handled the completely silent art classes the best and it was the the 2nd grade students who had the most trouble with it. I thought that yesterday’s Kindergarten students were struggling with staying quiet, but after experiencing several more classes, they actually handled it the best of them all! I’m starting to find Kindergarten not as hard to manage as I had originally thought. They tend to be quieter and less rowdy than the older students.

There was a complication with Kindergarten today, though. For a few weeks now, we’ve known that Kindergarten would be having a field trip today and that they would not be having art class. The principal thought that it would be a good idea to allow the Kindergarten students to get out of the building during a S.T.A.A.R. Testing day so that they wouldn’t have to be quiet and the students could test in peace. I agree that it was a good idea, but it didn’t end up going quite as planned.

As soon as the 2nd grade class ended, I began to set up for the next class, as is habit with a 5-minute passing period. Because Kindergarten had a field trip and 3rd grade students were testing, our next class was going to be a 1st grade class in over an hour. The 1st grade students are practicing their color-blending skills and are using crayons, colored pencils, and fine-tipped markers, as well as pencils. It’s a wide variety of supplies that require a good bit of time to set up. I had just finished setting up the whole class for 1st grade when the door opened and kindergarten students started pouring in. Immediately, my cooperating teacher went to the door and tried to talk with the kindergarten teacher, “Uhh, we’re not expecting kindergarten today,” she said.

“Really?” asked the kindergarten teacher looking dumbfounded. “I thought they were having art today.”

I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation because I immediately needed to tend to the children. Normally, our students come into the classroom and quietly go to the rug and sit and wait for instruction. It’s how we start all of our classes and the students are trained to follow that schedule. I have no idea why the kindergarten students today came into the classroom and gravitated towards all the supplies I had just put out onto all the tables. All of their hands were grabbing at the colored pencils and crayons and markers and pencils.

“Ooh, what are we doing today?!”

“Oh, look at this!”

“Wow, there’s a lot of stuff!”

With the teachers occupied, I had to take control of the 15 or so rambunctious, curious kindergarten students. Thankfully, they were all settled in less than a minute and sitting on the rug.

My teacher and I quickly scrambled to get all of the 1st grade materials put away and the kindergarten supplies set up. The kindergarten students were also working with a lot today and needed two sheets of paper, white and black, glitter crayons, construction paper crayons, gel markers, and pencils. Finally, when everything was settled, I began our completely-silent class as normal.

Then the phone rang. My cooperating teacher answered while I attended to the students and afterwards she told me that it was the gym teacher calling to ask her if we had also just gotten a hoard of kindergarten students unexpectedly, too. Apparently, the kindergarten teachers collectively agreed to have Specials classes today, but didn’t let the administration know. Both my cooperating teacher and I were frustrated and confused. My cooperating teacher said that things like this happen frequently.

After the class left, my cooperating teacher praised my flexibility. “You handled that a lot better than I would have,” she said. I have noticed that my teacher becomes upset when her schedule is changed without her awareness or when teachers try to take advantage of her, such as dropping classes off early and picking them up late. When things like that happen, she’ll often strictly declare to the students that they are early/late and that they need to sit in complete silence until class was actually supposed to start/after it was supposed to end. I agreed that it was frustrating and wasn’t handled well, but that we had to deal with the situation and couldn’t take it out on the students. She appreciated that I had just jumped into conducting class, like normal, even if we didn’t know what was going on or even if the students would be staying. All I knew was that we had screaming, crazy kindergarten students tearing through our supplies and we needed peace in order to figure things out.

I’m glad to know that I can handle crazy schedule changes well.


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