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Field Notes #4

Lchase's picture


Field Notes #4

Today I went to class and worked with the students on their independent work again. Each student was working on their workbook, a handout, or an exam. I was told not to help with the exam but I could help with anyone else.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in was that Ms. G was testing students on reading (timed) one-on-one while they all work.

Additionally, I noticed that Marcus’ desk was moved very close to Ms. G. (Next to the round table in front of the classroom where I usually sit and put my things. This was also where Ms. G. was testing her students). His desk was completely separated from the rest of the class and in front of an easel so no other student could see him. It was a bit weird and I wonder what he did to be placed there.

  • Was this a discipline option? I do not think it was a very good one since he was extremely distracted by Ms. G testing each student. He literally was so close he could touch them.
  • As I stated in my previous field notes, Marcus has untreated ADHD. I think being placed here is both good and bad. It was good because since he is essentially blocked from the classroom he (in theory) cannot get distracted by his peers (and vice versa?), but I don’t think it worked out very well because he constantly got up and stared at the classroom and sometimes danced around since Ms. G. could not see him.
  •  Since Ms. G. walks around the classroom a lot, Marcus has a lot of freedom to do his own thing while sitting here. I think it’s a good way to let out his energy without getting in trouble as often, but he wasn’t doing his work.

I helped students with their worksheets. Some students were still working on the material from last Friday (when I was there last).

Sonya wanted me to help her with her survey (she needed to finish the survey before Ms. G. could test her reading skills). The question she was struggling with was to list all the books/ stories she had read recently.

  • One thing I have noticed with Sonya is her unwillingness to do her work without someone coaching her through every step. She, in a way, accepts failure constantly saying “I can’t do it! It’s too hard!” In this situation she was telling me she did not understand—in reality she had not read the prompt because she was busy trying to get me to sit next to her.
  • Whenever I pass her desk she screams out “Ms. Lilly Ms. Lilly sit next to me! I need help!” When I get her to do some work (which takes a while because she constantly says it’s too hard and gives up while looking really sad) after explaining each prompt to her I tend to get up while she writes so I can work with other students at the same time but she gets angry and grabs my arm and repeatedly says no don’t leave! When I do leave she gets upset and stops doing the work until I come back.
  • I wonder how to deal with students when they constantly want one-on-one attention, especially in the case of teachers where they have 15+ students to work with. I usually have about 3-4 students I work with but I have a very hard time spreading my time around when I work with Sonya. Do you have any recommendations in cases like these?

After working on the worksheets and briefly going over some answers, Ms. G. informed the class and me that the students had a second recess because she needed to have her PR (not sure if this is the term) and a meeting about testing with the principal. The students were extremely excited and I was as well because I had not had time with them outside of the classroom.

The students went outside to their “playground” which is essentially a large blacktop that looks more like a parking lot. The first thing I noticed was the students splitting up between genders outside (the girls went to the left and played tag, had relay races, and generally did their own thing while the guys all played football to the right). Both third grade classrooms were outside playing together.

  • I wonder how much this connects to the students being separated by gender anytime they leave the classroom. The girls are usually on the left and the guys are on the right (exactly how they placed themselves on the playground!).

A few girls started hugging me and grabbing my arm and asking me to play. They then promptly pretended to be ripping my limbs off, sucking my blood, and simultaneously eating my brains.

  • This was actually pretty funny and took me by surprise because it is something “unlady like” considering how gendered the school seems.
  • One of the supervisors asked the girls if they watch the walking dead which they all said they did (which explains why they were eating my brains and ripping my limbs off). I don’t even watch the show; it is incredible graphic yet theses 9 year olds are watching it!

I then went to the boys side (after much reluctance from the girls which told me not to go over there the boys were crazy!) which I also was surrounded and attacked by hugs and hand grabbing (but they did not try to eat my brains and rip my limbs off*).

About all of the boys were playing football; about 5 were to the side playing a game, I think it was truth or dare or something.

I took this time to talk to one of the supervisors (the boys supervisor was a male and the girls was a female*), whom is also the technology teacher at Oakley Elementary School.

  • We were talking about the history of the school which I learned that the building is a historical land mark and is very old.
  • He also told me about all of the budget cuts the school has been facing. He said a lot of teachers were let off and it is looking like the whole school is going to be closed down within the next 5 years.

I then went back to the girl’s side because they were screaming across the blacktop to me to come back. I read with Sasha for a bit because Ms. G. told me to do so but I could see how distracted she was and how much she wanted to participate in the relay race that was about to start.

  • We read one chapter and I let her go play since I did not think she would benefit from reading when she was so distracted.

I was back to being torn apart and actually apprehended and sent to a corner of the playground for being “contaminated” which I obviously pretended to fight off and escape (much to the girl’s enjoyment).

The girls all started screaming and saying the boys were attacking which I quickly realized was because all the boys were coming to the girl’s side.

I walked over to the supervisors assuming recess was over but to my surprise the technology teacher casually walked up to the girl’s side supervisor and said there was a fight in which a student was bleeding from the mouth.

It took a bit to process but then I saw Robert walk up to the side with a bloody mouth. I was concerned about blood being around so many students but it did not seem as though the teachers were as concerned as I was. Isn’t there a protocol when blood is involved? Why weren’t they treating this urgently? Isn’t Robert in pain!? All these questions flooded my mind (it was my first time experiencing a school fight in any of my placements and I was in shock because of the blood).

 I immediately asked if I should bring the student to the nurse and they told me the nurse was not in that day but I could bring him to the counselor's office (during our class my peers that are also placed at Oakley had informed me the day before about the budget cuts affecting the nurses availability—I believe she comes once or twice a week. In her place, the school’s counselor handles the situations).

When I brought him to the counselors office she immediately told him to sit in her room and asked me where the other student involved was and what the teachers/principal wanted to do with the student. I was still really taken back from this whole incident and just blurted out that I think the student should get cleaned up and taken care of first which the counselor sort of dismissed and sent me to find the other student.

I went downstairs and found all the students still outside. I informed the supervisors that the counselor wanted to see Michael.

While walking Michael to the counselor’s office I asked what happened. He told me that he had told Robert that Robert could not play football anymore because he was slow and could not throw straight. Robert was angry and started cursing at Michael. Michael than hit Robert in the mouth and cut his mouth open.

When Michael was telling me this he was practically in tears.

After a while the principal and three students (Michael, Robert, and another student I did not know) were in the counseling office (one student had been mistaken as Michael. I wonder if the student tried to explaining the principal that he was not involved but she would not listen to him.)

Robert had tissue paper in his mouth and Michael was almost crying. The principal told the counselor that Michael was suspended until Monday and said she did not care if his mother tried fighting the suspension because "no student hurts any of HER children like that." (Michael might have an IEP for anger related issues, he has a woman work with him daily in Ms. Gillam's classroom and I was made aware of this during my first visit).

The principal then told the counselor Michael could stay for the day and asked me to walk him back to Ms. Gillam's class. The counselor then asked if she SHOULD call Robert's parents "because his lip [was] pretty busted open." They both sort of chuckled and the principal said "yeah I guess."

  • I was taken back by this. I thought it was obvious that Robert’s guardians should be informed that a student cut open his mouth! I was also taken back that they started laughing. It was just all weird.

And then they went into the counselor’s office and I went back to Ms. Gilliam's classroom with Michael.

Today was very stressful and brought up a lot of questions and confusion. Aren’t schools supposed to have a protocol in place?