Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Journal 5

emmagulley's picture

I just realized I forgot to post my Journal 5 entry... Sorry!  But it's all for the best because something more compelling happened in class today which I'd rather get everyone's opinions on/explore in more detail.

The sixth graders were almost all wearing orange ribbons in their hair today in honor of a boy at a nearby middle school who's recently been diagnosed with leukemia.  

Natalie and Allison were talking and being very silly and playful and Natalie was jokingly forcing her ribbon on Allison who was jokingly refusing it.  ”No!  Really!  Take it!  It’s yours,” Natalie said and threw it at Allison.  It landed on the floor where I was standing (right next to them.)  I picked it up (Natalie, to Allison:  ”SEE?? Now you made Miss Emma pick it up!!!!”) and in the span of a split second felt torn about how to react.  

In my mind (and heart?) this is what I wanted to say:  "Girls, if we’re wearing these ribbons to support a boy who’s feeling very sick, is this really the way we should be treating these ribbons?"  But I didn’t say that.  Instead I smiled and placed the ribbon on the table and started a new conversation.

I don’t know if I “chickened out” or felt like it wasn’t my place.  Maybe on some level I didn’t want to crush their naivety about leukemia.  Maybe I felt like my attachment to the ribbon was over-sentimentalized.  But I left their table kicking myself for not having spoken up.  I wonder if I would have felt more comfortable if if I had spent more time sort of actively “teaching” them rather than “hanging out” with them.  I think part of it is that I feel (to a certain degree) like a guest in their classroom rather than an authority figure, a dynamic which, I am sure, in my mind, is exacerbated by the fact that the school is private.  Or I wonder if I could have easily, under any circumstances, done the same thing and overlooked the ribbon throwing.  Even though this is my third field placement and even though I've spent a lot of time in different classrooms sometimes I still feel like I'm never 100% sure how to approach my role here...


Sara712's picture


I was visiting my field placement for the second time yesterday, and I had trouble deciding whether to be disciplinarian as well. We also had a safety drill, and the kids were goofing around in front of me. I had a moment where I almost called out to them, but then the teacher came from behind me and told them to get in line herself. Even though I was grateful that she intervened, I think next time I will feel a bit more comfortable to lend a hand in keeping things running smoothly. I guess it's not so much a matter of over-stepping a boundary as just helping a procedure work out. 

rschwartz's picture

I had the exact same feeling

I had the exact same feeling today, when I visited my placement-- I feel like a guest, not like a member of the classroom community. On my first day, the teacher introduced me, but I don't think anyone really understood who I was or what I was doing. They still ask me why I'm there ("Are you Mrs. Smith's friend?"), and today when I explained, one girl went, "OH! I thought you were Mrs. Smith's teacher!" Apparently she thought I was an administrator. Interestingly, the students seem to accept me, anyway; they let me help them with math and reading, they ask me questions, etc. 

But I feel that my role is very unclear, to me and to them. Today we had a fire drill, and while all the teachers led their students out of the building--yelling at them to stay in line, calling out to them--I followed along awkardly, feeling unprepared to play disciplinarian and not really knowing what to do with myself.

I don't know them very well, and maybe that's part of the problem. I've asked to start going twice a week, and maybe that will help...?