The next fall, I was offered a permanent position in the school where I did my student teaching. I would be teaching Kindergarten to 26 children in an open classroom. It was a huge circular building with a commons area in the center. There were no walls and I could look into three other classrooms. Each classroom was shared by a team of two teachers and assistants.
At my first staff meeting, I took meticulous notes about policies and procedures. On the very first day of school, my class was walking single file back to the classroom after lunch when the fire alarm sounded. I quickly lined up my class on the side of the sidewalk as I had been told to do and beamed at the Principal as he approached us. I had memorized the procedures and knew he would be impressed. He stopped in front of me and looked puzzled. "What are you doing" he asked. I told him we were in place for the fire drill. He looked at me sympathetically and informed me that what I had heard was the alarm of the fire station across the street. There was no fire drill. I slunk back to my classroom with my sweet little crew following me like baby ducklings oblivious to my error.
Two weeks later, I just knew I could redeem myself when the Principal told me he was coming to do his first official observation of my classroom. I poured over my lesson plans the night before and nervously awaited his arrival.
Once he entered the classroom, I introduced the lesson with a review of the previous day's instruction. As I asked questions, I crossed my legs and tucked them under the round table I was sitting on. The children enthusiastically began raising their hands to answer. So far so good I thought to myself. One timid little girl raised her hand to answer and when I leaned over to listen to her; I lost my balance and rolled forward off the table right onto the children. When I was finally able to uncross my legs and untangle myself, I saw the Principal rolling his eyes and shaking his head. He offered to postpone the observation until the next week. To my horror, as I looked around, I realized all of the other teachers and assistants in the building had watched my freefall. So much for my first observation!
I wondered if I was ever going to get this teaching stuff right.