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My First Week of School or Help Me Name My Frog
So much has happened since the last hub I wrote about my teaching job! I am teaching sixth grade this year, my very first year of teaching, after only two years of experience with student teaching and substitute teaching, and I have so much to tell you about my first week of school!
Why do I only have a week to get ready?
The week before school started, a reality check hit me like a two ton truck. I had to get ready for my first year of teaching... in seven days! Don't ask me why I waited so long to finally go into my classroom and start setting everything up. All I can say is that I was enjoying my summer, working hard at Wally World, and procrastinating, big time. So it's no surprise that with only seven days until the first day of school, I entered my classroom and had a huge meltdown.
By day two, things had improved somewhat. Instead of a completely empty room, I finally had furniture, for starters. And I had tons of teacher books! Hurray for teacher books, they make everything wonderful! So I got to work, rearranging my books and my desk and my student tables, and before I knew it, my classroom was starting to look like a classroom instead of a basement.
But it was still missing something. A class pet! Yep! I knew that despite it being my first year, and I still didn't have a single lesson plan written, I wanted to use some of my precious time to set up a class pet in my room. I wanted my room to feel like a science teacher's room, and I wanted there to be frogs everywhere. And what's a science classroom with frogs all over the walls if you don't have a real frog in a tank?
The best part about my class pet is that I didn't have to spend a penny of my own money (I had just found out that I only get paid once a month, and it would be over a month until my first pay day). I had an old fish tank from my own middle school years, as well as a mother who was eager to buy me something to celebrate my first year of teaching. She gave me three plants, something every science teacher needs (a bamboo, an orchid, and a spider plant). Then she heard that I wanted a frog, so off to the pet store we went!
We soon returned with a happy little White's Tree Frog and a dozen yummy crickets. All in all, I spent a day and a half setting up my frog's home with nice plants to hang out in, a little water dish with the letters H2O on the side (a nice touch for a science teacher, don't you think?) and a bed of moss that would keep the little guy's home nice and humid.
The biggest project was to cover up the back of the tank, which had a nice opening for a water heater, which wasn't so nice of an opening when the fish tank is now a frog tank. I got a net and used Velcro to block the hole. The sides were a little loose, but it would be fine! My little tree frog was actually not so little. He was what they call a Large White's, costing almost 30 dollars. Not only was he large, he was also a pig! With the net in place, I put the little guy in his new home and tossed in the 12 crickets. He jumped! He lunged! He chowed down. ...He ate all 12 crickets!
I went home that night and used Thesaurus.com to find a name for my tree frog. I knew he would be a big guy, and my goodness, he could eat! So I named him Gourmand.
The next day, I returned to my classroom, set on the task of cleaning out my file cabinets, which were full of worksheets that I couldn't use. I managed to work almost ten minutes before I just had to take a break to go check on Gourmand. It had been almost five years since I had a pet, and I just had to go play with him!
My heart skipped a beat! Gourmand was gone! I peered into his tank, but I couldn't see him anywhere. In a full blown panic, I opened the tank lid--and there he was! Gourmand was fast asleep up in the corner of the tank, behind the blue plastic that goes around the top and connects to the lid. Phew! He hadn't somehow gotten loose in my classroom. That would have been a disaster!
After misting Gourmand's home with a spray bottle, I went back to work, attacking my file cabinets with renewed vigor! In fact, I think I attacked them a little too hard. At one point, I had the two middle drawers of one cabinet opened, and then I opened the top drawer as well, and the next think I knew, the whole file cabinet was tipping!
It came right at me! I tried to catch it, but it just kept right on falling. The cabinet knocked me out of the way and hit the desk right behind me. Lucky for me the desk caught the cabinet, and the papers didn't go all over! I had to take the drawers out of the cabinet in order to push the darn thing back up. I never thought a filing cabinet could be so dangerous!
There was already learning going on in my classroom, and there weren't even any students there yet! Lesson number one? Don't open more than one drawer in the filing cabinet at the same time.
Getting Ready for Open House
The rest of the week went by incredibly fast. I planned my first week of lessons, rearranged the student tables in my room FOUR times, and put up tons of posters and pictures on my walls in preparation for open house. Because I had no money, I had to get creative with my decorations. So I went online and found a website of educational comics. Here are some of them:
Not all of my comics were about frogs, but what can I say? I picked a theme, and I was sticking with it. So when my in-laws came to see my classroom on the day before open house, they decided that they wanted to buy me a frog too! So, off to the pet store we went!
My in-laws had no idea how expensive tree frogs are! So we bought a small one this time, a tiny little guy with the cutest little sticky finger pads. And boy, was he a climber! I took him out of the bag and tried to put him in the tank, and he crawled around my arm for at least a whole minute before I finally got him off of me. Okay, so maybe I liked to have him crawl all over my arm. I confess, it was fun to feel his sticky feet climb up and down.
Anyway, the next night was open house, and almost all of my students came to meet me. I met tons of parents, and my frogs were a big hit! I realized that I hadn't named my newest frog yet, and I decided that I should let the kids think of names and do a class vote.
So I did a couple last minute things, fed my frogs the rest of the crickets, and went home, determined to enjoy my weekend. It was hard to believe that I would be teaching on Monday! As it turned out, I had to return on Sunday, but only to feed my frogs.
I unlocked the door, walked in, flipped on the light and went straight to my tank. "Hi guys! You hungry?" I didn't spot them right away, but I wasn't worried. I knew they both liked to sleep up behind the blue plastic trim around the top of the tank. So I lifted the lid and dropped the crickets in. But something was wrong! The little frog wasn't there!
Uh oh, Gourmand, where'd your brother go?
I checked the tank and double-checked the tank, looked behind the plants and checked under the moss. I even took out the water dish to see if he somehow got under it, but he wasn't there. Then I realized how the little guy got out! He was small enough to squeeze through the net I put in the back to cover that stupid hole. By now, I was panicking. Gourmand's brother was somewhere in my classroom, and it had been two whole days since I last saw him! What if he was dried out and suffocating? What if he was slowly starving to death?
I began to madly search my classroom. I checked the window and the wall by the table, because I knew the little frog could climb. Then I checked under the table and all along the floor. Before I knew it, a whole hour had gone by and I still hadn't found him. I went back to the tank and searched the moss again, checked the whole table again, and pulled the table out just in case he was wedged in there, but he really was gone. I started to realize that I might have to leave without finding him, and that sent me into another frenzy. I left my room through the adjoining door to my team teacher's room and checked her whole classroom as well. Another hour went by, and still no frog. I went home with a sad heart.
The next day, the first day of school, was a hectic marathon. I passed out schedules, took my students on a building tour twice (two different groups of kids) and played some getting-to-you-know games. Somehow, I managed to get a classroom full of 25 children to all stay quiet and listen to what I had to say. I taught them my signal for quieting down so I could tell them something (I have a frog key chain that clicks) and somehow I made it through the whole day without running out of activities to do! I felt like a pro!
Then my planning periods came, and I finally had a chance to go talk to my fellow core teacher. I told her what had happened with my frog, and we spent another half an hour looking for him, but still no luck. I told her the frog needed water or he would dry out, and we both agreed that he was probably dead.
The kids came back for study hall, and I quickly forgot about my frog. I spent at least three hours after school was out, making sure I was ready for the next day of school. Then I watered my plants and went home.
The Week Flew By!
The rest of the week, I left home by a quarter to seven and had an hour before school to prepare for the day, then came the marathon schedule of back to back classes for five periods, then my two planning periods (which are about an hour and a half, but fly by like the blink of an eye). Then, as is apparently mandatory for first year teachers, I spent at least three hours after school every day to get ready for the next day. I was busy.
I learned almost all of my students' names and got to know most of them. I have about 45 students which I share with one other teacher, and we had a great first week. I found out who would be the students I could rely on to lead by example, and who would make my job fun, who would challenge me, and who would push my buttons. Mostly, I found out that I am going to love teaching.
I managed to plan for the entire next week on Thursday night, and that made me feel like a pro. I did my bus duty, returned to class to water my plants on the frog table, misted Gourmand's tank with the spray bottle, and left school on Friday afternoon only twenty minutes after all the kids (but only because I didn't have a choice, I had to be at Wally World by 5 o'clock and needed to go home and eat and change clothes!).
Finally the weekend was here! I spent ALL DAY on Saturday hubbing and eating out with friends and just relaxing, not thinking about school at all. Then I remembered that I hadn't fed Gourmand since Wednesday! He was probably starving! It was too late to go buy crickets, so the very next day, I woke up before 8 (a crime for the weekend!) and went to the only pet store that was open, to buy some crickets for my fat little frog. I realized that I needed a cricket holder so I could buy more crickets at once and I wouldn't have to go to the store as often, so I bought two dozen crickets and a plastic cricket hut.
I practically ran down the hallway, burst through the door, and chucked about six crickets into the tank. Gourmand was sleeping in the corner as usual, and he looked a little irked at me. I guessed it was because he was hungry, and not because I woke him up. Anyway, he promptly ate the six crickets. I misted him with my spray bottle (he was really sticky and needed the shower!). I decided that it was time to change the moss in his tank. So I put him in my gold fish bowl and changed the moss.
Before I left, I grabbed my watering can to water my plants, but it was empty. I set it on the floor and grabbed the water jug from under the table. I was about to fill the can when I saw something. There was a green blob in the can!
I put my hand in and felt a jump!
My frog! He had been hiding in the watering can ALL WEEK LONG! Can you imagine the smile on my face as I returned the little guy to his tank and promptly fed him some crickets. I can't imagine how hungry he must have been after a whole week with no food! He was never a pig like his older brother, but he ate three crickets and jumped into his water dish... and then began to climb up the glass, to the back of the tank and that stupid net covering that stupid hole. I knew I had to do something, or he would probably go missing again.
I'm not a very handy person, but I am a very spacial person, and I could see that the back of the tank was about the length and width of a ruler, and I just so happened to have a box of rulers that would perfectly fit. I took the rulers out of the box and covered up the hole. Then I went home and wrote this hub.
Now comes the part where you get to help me out. I still haven't named my little froggy, and I would love to have some input from you. Here are some names I came up with, but if you have another idea for a great name, please leave me a comment.