Today was a stormy day. The weather wasn't the only thing that felt unsettled. Our classroom was a bit stormy too.
When I walked in the door, first thing this morning, I was taken aback by just how much our classroom felt like a swamp. Everything was damp and even with the windows open, there wasn't a breath of fresh air circulating. I got some fans going but that was little help. The kids came in and we started our day in the typical way. I greeted the kids and they began with their morning routines. I took attendance. I wondered about a child who seems to have been out a lot. I checked the attendance records. This kiddo has been absent 5 out of 13 days. As I was wondering about this an adult popped in to share some info about a kid she was concerned about. I was concerned too because it just so happened to be the child with poor attendance. I called the office to share the information.
After getting off to a hectic start, I called the kids to the space in our classroom where we begin each day with a number talk. Then, all of a sudden it seemed like a handful of different people all wanted something from me. One adult told me they were pulling a child to do some testing. The counselor came by to pick up a child, The Adaptive Physical Education teacher phoned into the classroom looking for a student for APE. Phone calls are tough because I have to physically leave the teaching space and cross the room to take the call while the children wait for my attention. As far as I know, this child doesn't have APE. At the very least, it is not listed on the IEP. Nonetheless, I found an adult who could locate the child and send her to APE because, coincidentally, she was the same kiddo who had been pulled for testing. The teacher who works with English language learners came by to pick up another child.
All of this would have been okay except it was all happening while the kids were present. I was very distracted by all of this plus I couldn't stop thinking about my student who was absent. The phone rang again. It was the office. My principal and the school resource officer wanted to talk to me about the child with many absences. I stuck my head in the classroom next door to get temporary coverage for my class.
I stepped out and hustled downstairs. We talked briefly, in a very focused way, about the child and my concerns. The officer would check to make sure the child was okay. The family hadn't called him in sick in two days and the school wasn't able to reach the family at any of the provided phone numbers. There was some cause for concern.
I returned to the classroom and continued the math lesson. Midway through the lesson, the principal came through with the director of special education for a short observation. I love this actually. It is so important for them to arrive unannounced and witness what goes on in our classroom. I never see their visits as a threat and I'm always proud to share the learning going on in the room. Today, however, it seemed like just one more distraction for me. (Not for my kids though. They're used to visits and it didn't seem to impact them at all.)
Once math was over we transitioned and started the English language arts lesson with #classroombookaday. That's when the storm moved through. With no warning, there was lightning and the loudest clap of thunder. Holding the students' attention was a challenge. The book was just okay (my opinion and the kids' opinion). It was written specifically to teach children how to regulate their voices in different settings. I have no doubt that they understood the author's purpose and learned a bit about voice regulation. They just didn't find the book entertaining. Between the thunder and the lack-luster book, the kids were very distracted.
I'd love to say that the day improved as it passed. It didn't. I had a meeting with my team and my principal and I needed to touch base with the nurse about a student who was using visits to the nurse's office to escape the stresses of the classroom. I'm pretty sure I ate lunch at some point but at no point did I catch my breath. After lunch we had a newspaper reporter present to the entire fourth grade. We returned to class with just enough time to for the students to write their end-of-the-day reflections before they headed off to their technology class. I spent my entire prep period on the phone with a parent whose child is struggling with social/emotional issues. I still have to touch base with two additional parents and review some testing and an IEP before I attend a meeting first thing tomorrow morning.
Today was stormy and unsettled.
What I hate most about it is that I don't feel like I was present for my students. Not every day is like today. Today was probably the perfect storm. There is lots of "stuff" that happens during the course of each day. I wish I had more control over the flow of it. Today felt like a storm surge all day long. Tomorrow will likely be better.