In my last post, I stressed the importance of being a reflective pre-service teacher. Today, I thought I would share a memorable moment I had this week during my read aloud. There was a bit of a plot twist…in the book and in the classroom. In my fourth grade class, I read a book called The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg. If you’re not familiar with this book, it’s about a family who discovers a strange man and lets him stay at their home for a while. Somehow, his presence causes a bit of disequilibrium in the seasons. In the book, the family calls the stranger a “hermit”. The characters’ description of a hermit was someone who lived alone in the woods. That’s a description we’ve all heard before right? WRONG. I was in for a very interesting read aloud session. After reading this particular page in the book, the kids began to ask the following questions:
What’s a hermit?
Why did they call him a hermit?
Are they calling him a hermit crab?
etc. etc. etc…
Which led to the following comments…
I think he’s a hermit.
He doesn’t look like a hermit!
Hermits are weird.
They think he’s a hermit! *chuckles*
etc. etc. etc…
For some reason, the idea of the stranger being a hermit was so hilarious to these kids. I thought to myself, “Did I miss something?” After clearing up the confusion, I thought the students were over this joke of the day and we could finally proceed with the story. Plot twist. It wasn’t over. For some reason, they were so stuck on the word hermit! The kids would make jokes about hermits as we stopped periodically in the book and during our discussion at the end of the story. These little comments caused the kids to snicker throughout the story, and I found myself having to bring the class back to attention on more than one occasion. Forget about The Stranger, these kids were strange! I had no idea why these kids picked out such a random part of the story. It was causing my read aloud to go in an unexpected direction, and it took every cell in my body to keep calm during this hiccup in my read aloud. This brief moment in my day made me think more about how I would handle this situation if I were presented with it a second or third time. What could I have said differently to the students to reel them back in? Should I have shown a different facial expression (teacher stare) to show the kids that I meant business? Was this an unavoidable situation? I will admit that classroom management is not my strongest area, and it is something that I have made a goal of mine to work on in the field. Luckily, I managed to keep my students from getting way off track during the read aloud, and they still left with an understanding of the story. Moments like these are ones that I like to reflect on because they make me think deeply about how I can improve as a teacher. I know that I’ll face moments like these on many more occasions, and I like to be prepared for every possible situation.
I shared this story as an additional reminder to be reflective as we spend time in the classroom. I’m sure you will face many unexpected situations in the field, and those are perfect moments to reflect on! On a final note, continue to stay calm in every situation you face in the classroom. You might face something that you didn’t see coming…like hermit crabs in books that have nothing to do with hermit crabs.