This week at school was an interesting one. First, on Monday I had a scheduled day off. I had several appointments set up and was happy to sleep in until 8:30. As I was waking up, I looked at the clock and thought about how my school was starting the day in the morning meeting. As I got up, I got on my computer to check emails, Plurk, and Skype. I soon learned that another teacher was needing to have emergency oral surgery. Things were going to be crazy at school. I helped out students a little during the day online knowing that there were two subs of six teachers in the building.
On Tuesday, we began State Reading Assessments. Our teacher that was out on Monday came in (against our will) to help assist in the assessment giving in the morning. We are able to adjust our schedule so that all students are testing at once so the entire building is quiet. As soon as that was over, the recovering teacher left and we had a substitute.
Wednesday morning we arrived for the second of three days of testing. Another teacher was not feeling well. We all made it through testing and then convinced the teacher that she needed to be taken care of. With a teacher to assist her, we were now down two teachers with no sub. We made it through the afternoon with a few adjustments to the schedule.
Our teacher that was ill on Wednesday was still gone on Thursday, but we did have a substitute. However, throughout the day some teachers had meetings outside the building. Our music teacher was also out of town for a music conference. We finished our assessments and then had an adjusted schedule again. We also had a tornado drill in the afternoon, the first since September, so many students forgot where they were to go.
After finally making it to Friday, we had no music teacher still and the ill teacher from Wednesday was still gone. Half the students and two teachers were to be gone for a science competition. At 6:15 am, our science teacher got a call saying that the bus was canceling the trip due to weather and road conditions. Students were to be at the school at 6:30. Luckily, our staff is all awake and talking on Skype, so we start phone calls and get ahold of all students that were to go and broke the news to them. A short time later, our science teacher becomes ill and needs to go home. So we are now down three of six teachers with two subs. The day goes on as a normal day. Then, at the end of the day, we said good-bye to a student as she would be moving out of state over the weekend.
I guess I am writing this to say that first, this was NOT a normal week. Then, what is a “normal” week in schools? We as teachers know that things happen during the school day that make us think on our feet and change what we are doing. Not only that, but we have to keep a face to students as if nothing is happening. Why do we do that? Well, students can become frazzled and not be able to focus. However, we cannot leave them in the dark. They can see things that are happening around you.
The first time that I started thinking about the need to think on your feet as a teacher was September 11, 2001. I believe that everyone reading this will remember that day. I was a junior in college and had a very rough start to the school year. I had told all my teachers that I was going to be gone and I headed home for the day. I went back to visit my old high school and the band director. I was standing in the band room around 8:30 in the morning when the principal came over the intercom and announced that the Twin Towers and Pentagon had been hit by planes. I stood there and watched the band director to see what he was going to do. He heard this news at the exact same time the students did.
We as teachers play many roles throughout the school day. Many people think that we only teach, but we don’t. We help students through rough times. I remember my high school band director, Suellyn Stenger, standing in front of the band my sophomore year of high school breaking the horrible news of a classmate that was about to pass on. We support students through difficult times.
I want to thank all the teachers that I have ever had that have “ignored” what was going on to help me to continue to learn. I want to thank all the teachers that I have had that have helped me through difficult times at school or in my personal life. Teachers are many, many things. I hope that I can be the teacher to students that teachers were to me.