If I have learned anything from the past while of teaching, it is to be prepared. A lot can happen in a school day and you need to be prepared to handle it all. The inspiration for this blog post is this past school week. All in the past week, three unexpected events happened, none of which I was prepared for. So let this be a warning, think about these things BEFORE the school year.
Event #1: Sick Student
It was early Tuesday morning and I had just finished my “Class, it is flu season” speech on leaving the room if they were going to throw up. I looked over to see one of my students quickly cover his mouth and then barf all over the rug. Keep in mind he was surrounded by 30 other students. I went into panic mode. Where could I even start? After this event, I have a few simple steps to successfully handle this situation.
Step 1: Move the class away from the area with a task to do (like silent reading at their desks).
Step 2: Comfort the sick child. It doesn’t really matter that you get them the trash can, at this point the custodian will have to come anyways. Let them finish.
Step 3: Grab the trash can and escort the sick student down to the office. Alert them of the spill and have the custodian paged. Also have the sick child call home.
Step 4: Take your students’ minds off of it. I sent my students down for a bathroom/ drink break. Just removing them from the situation helps them not to get sick thinking about it.
Step 5: Move on as if nothing has happened and be aware that the custodian will interrupt class to clean things up.
Event #2: Emergency Substitute Plans
In the event of all of my students getting sick, I realized I had no “emergency substitute plans” for the times when I might need them. Make them generic, easy to follow, and have them in an accessible spot. This will alleviate SO much stress if you have to leave early or can’t come one day. Just tell your team where your plans are and rest easy.
Event #3: Inside Recess
Growing up in Utah, you would have thought I would have a plan for this but today came, and I wasn’t ready. One of my team members gave me the idea to just put a movie on. This helps with so many aspects. I wasn’t a fan of having the students play games in the classroom, nor did I want to have to entertain them during my lunch break, so this was the perfect alternative. One of the recess aides popped into to check on my class during lunch, and he turned to me and said “Smart teacher. You’ve got this figured out!” My advice is this: Have a 45-60 min. movie ready for inside recesses. This way you can start it one recess, and if the other recess is inside as well, you can watch the rest then. This way you can get your much needed break and the kids aren’t running around unsupervised.
All this has caused me to think back to what a veteran teacher said to me when I first started teaching. He stopped me in the faculty room and asked if I was ready for the first day. I told him I didn’t think I’d ever be ready. He smiled and said, “If there’s anything I’ve learned in 30 years of teaching, it is that no matter how long you teach, you will never feel ready.”
Truer words have never been said.