The daily musings of a substitute teacher in East Central Illinois.

Sanctuary!

Today I was a 2nd grade teacher at Carrie Busey Elementary in Champaign. I had a really good day with the students. Two or three were a handful, but most of the students were awesome! We discussed some awesome things, they learned new ideas and concepts, and they came to understand why they are doing some of the things they do. For the second time in a row, I was able to use my picture of my living room as an introduction to a reading lesson, which is fun not just because I can show off the awesomeness that is my library, but also because I love seeing the look on students’ faces when they realise how many books I own and how often I read.

Every teacher has a planning/preparation period built into the day. At the elementary level, this period is often during the time when the students are in Specials (Art, Music, or P.E.). I look forward to this period as a time to recharge my batteries and prepare the for the rest of my day. This works really well when the students have Specials in the middle of the day. When Specials are the first thing of the day, or the last, though, it doesn’t work quite the same way. This is especially true when it is the last thing of the day. Then I use the period to write my note to the teacher, review what I accomplished, and make sure the room is tidied up, applying the principles of the Boy Scouts of the America’s Leave No Trace program to the classroom.

Most of the time, though, the plan period is in the middle of the day, and thus it becomes my moment of sanctuary. In many ways, I feel a little bit like Quasimodo in Disney’s version of The Hunch-Back of Notre Dame:

I need this moment when I can walk into the room and think to myself. “Sanctuary! Sanctuary!” It is a relief to take a break and get myself ready for the rest of the day. However, this can only happen when I am by myself. When I am sharing the room with another teacher, whether a co-teacher, an aide, or a student teacher, there is the unspoken policy that we must talk. If I am in the teachers’ lounge, I have no problem talking with other teachers. We usually talk about anything except students, unless it is to vent the frustrations about a particular student driving everyone in the school batty. But most of the time, teachers in the lounge just talk about other stuff. It, too, is a time for a break.

Not so in the classroom. If we are in the classroom, we talk about the students, we talk about each other’s teaching background, we talk about who knows who, and we talk about teaching methods. I don’t really begrudge these moments. I like to bounce ideas off of other educators and learn from them as they learn from me. But, at the same time, I also wish I could find a quiet room to hide, if only for a few minutes. It isn’t that I don’t like talking to others. It is just that I need my sanctuary. I don’t know what the solution is, though. If there is another teacher in the room, he or she needs to be there, as well. Maybe I just wish that they would understand that there should be a few minutes for each of us to quietly reflect and ignore the rest of the world while we regroup and prepare for the rest of the day. I don’t think this will happen, though, but it would be nice.

It would also be nice if I could watch YouTube videos in the classroom. Alas, some things are just not to be.

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