Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reflections: 1st Week of Substitute Teaching

This was my first week of substitute teaching for a nearby school district. I am subbing in an effort to gain both experience, and a full-time teaching position. I worked on Tuesday, Thursday, and today (Friday).

My first assignment was supposedly to be "extra help" in a science class at a 6th-grade school. I was really jazzed about it, as I'm certified to teach 4th-8th Science. When I arrived (early, mind you), I was sent to an ELA (English Language Arts) class instead. This is a district policy: if you come for one assignment, the school administrator can move you to another if they need to. I thought, "Okay, that's fine, this will just help me cultivate that thing they call 'flexibility'."

On Thursday I filled in for the art teacher at an elementary school. Despite the lack of lesson plans- instructions said to give the kids a "free drawing day"- it was a great experience overall. I saw a class from each grade level for 45 minutes, except my last class. It was only a half-hour, but filled with at least 50 1st-Graders [shudder]. But I was amazed by how many drawings I received from the students that day!

Today I taught Kindergarten at a very close school. When I walked into the room, the sheer amount of stuff was enough to make my little heart flutter. Oh my. There were an assortment of tables and chairs and rugs and posters and books and cubbies and shelves and toys and supplies and files and...yeah. The day started off with "Storybook Parade", which I guess is the new PC alternative to Halloween.

Things I still need to work on:
  • Learn to use the Promethean Board! I've heard it's easy- I just need to call the district's office for training.
  • I forgot to set time limits for things. I was taught that students need to know up front: 1) what they're doing, 2) what tools to use, and 3) how much time they have to do it. I missed the boat on that last one quite a bit.
  • How to prevent-or nip in the bud-or ignore? the making of paper airplanes and poppers. I really didn't see the harm in the doodling or coloring or folding some of the kids did; it wasn't bothering any of their classmates.
  • Further familiarize myself with, and practice, the principles from Love and Logic.

What I already knew:
  • From my mom, "Kids never completely shut up." I found that to be spot-on. Even at its quietest, my room had a little murmur going on.
  • Some kids process by reading out loud, or mouthing the words, or tapping their pencil. No big deal.
  • Some kids will do anything to keep from doing work! I don't understand why- that in itself takes massive energy and thought.
  • The "bad kids" are some of the smartest in the room.
  • It's easy to tell when kids need a stretch break.
  • Walking around during class is pretty effective for keeping kids focused.

What I discovered:
  • A box of prizes from Dollar Tree is a pretty strong motivator.
  • You can see in a student the sort of person they are going to be as an adult. There was a quiet girl who finished her quiz early and started doodling (like me!). Then there was the troublemaker who gave me an aww-shucks grin- the kind of guy who will act cute to try to get out of stuff the rest of his life. There was the play-dumb kid: "Miss, what's a quiz?" who will try to get by on what he doesn't know. There was the smooth-talker, who, when I passed his desk, murmured, "Wassup, fashion model?"
  • I am NOT a Kindergarten person. It's like herding cats. Cats that want to "help" you or show you their work or their outfit. Give me a fifth- or sixth-grader any day.
  • I can really yell if the need arises!
  • High heels=bad idea.
  • Expectantly extending an open hand in front of a student and receiving rubber bands from them gives you a giddy, powerful feeling.
  • I still feel like a kid when I'm in a school. Will this change? Would that be a good thing if it did? I sat in my art classroom before class Thursday, grinning as I looked around me at all the cool projects and supplies. "I can't believe I got away with this! I get to be the teacher!" I thought.

1 comment:

  1. You are beginning to sound wise already. Keep plugging away and writing away. I've got a feeling you will be great! I just wish teachers realized that leaving great plans for a sub makes for a great day for everyone.