But the first day turned out to be chaotic, crazy, and unexpected.
We were supposed to arrive before 11:30 in order to prep for the day’s activities; we had to double check lesson plans and put everything we needed in a tub with our group name on it and then put the bin outside the classroom. I remember in those 20 minutes before the day started we didn’t have any rosters of the kids for attendance and we didn’t know how severe the disabilities of six children in our class were.
Every group received a huge packet of all of the children’s allergies…. 5 pages later and cross checking with the list of kids, we found out that we had two kids with life threatening allergies to peanuts and eggs. Both my co-leader and I were surprised and frankly a bit upset that we were not given a heads up about severe allergies either. To top the whole day off, there were no walkie-talkies for any of the groups, which meant that if there were an emergency, we would pretty much have to scream for help.
I like to have back-up plans and be prepared, and on this first day, I felt like a fish out of water. But we kept going, the bell rang and the kids began to run up to us so we could check their names off; all were able to speak English fine so it was not a struggle to understand each other. However, after recess and lunch once we got the kids in the room we quickly discovered that our plans for the day would fly out the window.
Our class was obviously divided, there was a group of Hispanic kids who stuck together and would constantly talk in Spanish about inappropriate topics, and there were the African-American children who were easily upset by the Hispanic kids and believed they were the topic of their conversations.
Two of the boys who had anger issues were constantly egged on by their peers and because they were also physically aggressive I would be forced to break up fights. I had no clue how to properly break up the fights so I would just get in the middle and they would usually stop and then they would run out of the room. Since we only have one person trained to deal with behavioral issues at the school, I ran after the kids and talked to them in the hallway so that they could calm down enough to return to class.
That first day was so long and challenging, I was ready to give up, but I knew I had to stick with it for at least a week to see if things would improve.
I’ll let you know how things go.