The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Back in the Saddle

Today was my first day back since having surgery. I realised that I had been away from my room for an entire week. I always quickly realised that it had been a week since I had been up and on my feet for several hours at a time. (Anyone who has ever visited my classroom knows that I am the kind of teacher who is almost always on his feet, walking around, talking to students, or just watching what they are doing. I typically sit at my desk first thing when I arrive to boot up my computer and get attendance ready to be posted, during lunch to check emails, and at the end of the day to make sure everything is closed up.)

I quickly surveyed the room and was glad to see that everything was pretty much in place. No scorch marks, no teachers duct-taped to chairs, and no furniture flung out the windows. (This is a long-running joke of mine that I share with students: My expectation is that I return to the classroom to find that they have not gone crazy, and am always very glad when this is the case.)

I read the notes from my sub who was thankfully there for all three days and was very impressed! Her notes from the first day said the students were wonderful, and they had a fair day. The second day said that things went very well. The third day said that she had a wonderful time working with my class and that she would love to sub for me again! This last is such an important thing for a teacher to know. Not only did the sub enjoy working with my class, she wants to do it again! Props to my students for doing such a great job working with a different teacher for three days!

As my students arrived, some wanted to know if I had “artwork” from my surgery. I reminded them that they were not to talk in the halls and that I would share information about my surgery when everyone arrived. After I had the whole class there and they had finished their morning journal writing, I took time to give an overview of my week (lots of lying on the couch while eating saltines and vanilla pudding and watching old episodes of Doctor Who.) I let them know that I did not have any pictures from the surgery, but I would bring any in if I get them during my follow-up appointment in a week.

And then we jumped straight back to work! A lesson on social/emotional learning focused on resolving conflict over differences in preference. (Example: one student wants to play “Uno” while another wants to draw during Read, Write, Think. What can they do?) Then we went to the computer lab before the students went to the library. There was a severe weather drill while they were in library, and they did a great job following directions and getting into their safe positions in the hallway. (Last year my class was in the computer lab during drills. This year they are in library. My class is going to have a hard time remembering what to do if there is severe weather when we are in the classroom! I may do a practice run or two on our own just so they know what to do.)

We spent the remainder of the morning reviewing concepts for place value and use of numbers in preparation for their first chapter test, which they are going to take tomorrow. We reviewed as a class and then the students paired up and worked with their partners to complete a practice test in their math books. They did a pretty good job remembering partner-work expectations, but I really hope to get the situation with my damaged whiteboard resolved soon so that we can write the expectations on the board. (My portable easel whiteboard is just a little bit too bulky to leave out when students are working.)

The afternoon was spent in our literacy block, which we started doing last week. I haven’t started to roll out the Daily Five yet, but I think we are going to start next week. The students listened to reading, commented on what they heard, and then read on their own. We wrapped up the day with reviewing our Today’s Topics. The students listed the topics as the severe weather drill, the math test review, and doing independent silent reading for forty minutes. Personally, I was shocked that no one suggested writing about having Mr. Valencic back after surgery!


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