Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Check System

Recently I had a job for a second grade teacher I regularly work for.  She is SO professional that it is at the same time easy, and hard to work for her.  Easy because everything is prepared and ready to go, but hard because she works so hard and expects the same from her sub.  The kids in her class are great which is weird because the kids in the next room are horrid.  I saw a list of all the kids that have been in the good class all year and she has had many that have come in, and then left.  I think she diligently documents serious behavior problems and then somehow gets the worst of them removed and placed somewhere else.  Mostly next door. 

As far as discipline in the elementary grades is concerned, I have found that having my own system is easier and more effective than trying to learn and use the regular classroom teacher's method.  Mostly because I don't know the regular plan, and also because it's different for me who is only there one day compared to the person that is there every day.  This is what I do: when they come in the room in the morning I have a message on the board introducing myself, telling where their teacher is, and giving the broad strokes of what we will be doing that day.  I also outline my behavior plan.  It's the check system.  I have a clipboard with me that has my lesson plans, any notes I need, seating chart and class list.  If someone breaks the classroom rules (which are usually hanging up on a wall somewhere) they get a check next to their name on the class list. 

*The first check is a warning. 
*Second check is a time-out in the hall. 
*If they get a third check they go in the hall, write a note home to mom or dad telling why they got three checks and their plan for correcting their behavior.  That note goes home with them and gets signed and then brought back to school the next day to show the regular teacher.
*Fourth check is a call home.  Student calls mom or dad and explains that he/she got four checks, already spent time in the hall, already wrote a note home, and the next check they get will send them to the office for the rest of the day.
*Fifth check they go to the office for the rest of the day.

I don't give a check for every single thing I could conceivably give a check for, but I pass them out where I think they will be the most effective.  It eliminates any yelling, or full-class punishments which never work anyway.  The kids are talking during quiet work time?  I choose one kid and quietly say, "Brady, that's a check," and then magically the rest of the room quiets down.  Sorry, Brady.  But that keeps Brady from getting another check.  Still not quiet?  Choose another kid and give him a check.  Pretty soon you can hear a pin drop. 

I also tell them that when I see them do something especially good, I will give them a thank-you slip that they put into a bucket on the front table.  During transitions I pass out thank-you slips to kids who get ready the fastest.  If someone helps another kid with something, I give him/her a slip.  At the end of the day we have a drawing and three or four kids names are drawn and they get a piece of candy.  They love it. 

This system has worked really well for me for years and I have never had to send a kid to the office until that second grade class I was talking about above.  There was one kid in there who I'll call Rob who was having a TERRIBLE day.  He got his first check for pushing a girl out of line and taking her spot in the pencil sharpening line.  He got a second check for making his tablemate cry by telling him he was stupid because he couldn't figure out a math problem.  He got his third check for slapping a girl in the arm.  I could have given him a million other checks too for just generally being annoying.  He argued with me about what the teacher wanted them to do for science, and argued with me about anything else he could possibly think of. 

I sent him into the hall to write his note home and after about 15 minutes he came back in and sat at his spot.  I asked for his note and he stared blankly at me.  I said, "Did you write your note?"  He shook his head.  I said, "Go finish."  He shook his head.  I said, "You have three choices right now, 1) go back out and finish your note, 2)skip the note and wait in the hall for me to finish this (reading exercise) with the class and we'll just call mom right now, or 3) go to the office."  He wouldn't budge.  I waited about a minute, asked for his choice and he didn't move. He just stared at me. I said, "Office it is," and called the principle to come and get him.  She came in and tried to talk him out of his seat, but he wouldn't budge.  She then went and got an aide and they literally dragged him out like he was a protester being brought to jail by the police.  I was at the same time extremely frustrated and annoyed that the kid was being so impossible, and I was also sad because my system seemed to have failed, but what else was I supposed to do?  If this kid had his way, he would have been in charge and there would have been chaos.  What do you think? 


I subbed for a middle school band teacher last week.  It was mostly a pretty good day.  I've discovered this year that I LOVE subbing for music classes.  I've always been intimidated by the conducting part of it, but I can just make a kid do it and all goes well (enough)!

The first hour was 7th grade band and they were WILD and LOUD but when they started playing they were fun to listen to.  I asked a kid to direct who had an especially loud voice and when he came in to the room that morning, he played the piano brilliantly so I guessed he had some big talent and would know his way around the music, which he did, but there was another kid who I thought was his friend, who was endlessly needling him and would mess up just to make noise and give the kid a hard time.  I think he was trying to be funny, but it wasn't even funny the first time he did it and after that it just got more and more and more annoying.  Eventually he yelled out something about Bill Cosby to the kid-director and I didn't really get it, but I think it had something to do with the fact that the student-director was black. I told the yeller he crossed a line and to sit down and be quiet or go to the office, and he chose to sit down.  Later the principle came in and asked me about it and I got the feeling he thought I should have reported it as harassment right then and there, but like I said, the kid was SUPER obnoxious and was trying to get a rise out of his friend and make his classmates laugh, and he failed miserably on both counts.  I feel bad about it now because I think maybe I should have written the kid up right then.  Little jerk. 

Second hour was 8th grade band and although I'm not the biggest fan of 8th graders, these kids were fantastic.  Again, I chose a student-director that seemed to have some musical know-how and a loud voice and let him have the reins.  He was fabulous.  The kids had recently gotten music for the high school song and were just starting to learn it.  They were supposed to practice it and it sounded horrid.  The kids were so cute because every single one of them was reading the music and blowing into their instruments with utter desperation, but it just sounded like they were tuning up.  The student-director stopped them and very dryly said, "I think it's important that we play more of the notes right."  I just about died laughing. 

Throughout the day the kids came in for lessons and luckily I had a DVD that gave guided instruction for lessons and they all did really well. 

Towards the end of the day I had General Music and was warned that there were a few extreme behavior problems.  I appreciated the warning, but within a half a second of the first kid coming in, I could have figured it out myself.  They were like posturing apes in a zoo.  I couldn't even get them to sit down and finally I had to gong the gong and tell them that they got three strikes and then they were going to the office and "you, you, you and you all have one already."  That at least got them seated.  Then I told them their assignment for the day and passed out a few more strikes.  They got relatively quiet and about 70% of the class was working diligently, but there were four boys who were decidedly more obnoxious than the others.  Thankfully it wasn't too long before two of them had earned their third strike and I sent them to the office with discipline referrals.  For a long time I was wary of doing that, but I don't know why.  Now my go-to discipline method is to give them three strikes and they are out.  How do you handle discipline as a sub?

Aside from General Music, it was a pretty fun day! 

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Months ago I agreed to sub for three days in kindergarten this week because I like to screw over my future self.  It's over now and it wasn't so bad.  Of course, nothing could be as bad as what I had envisioned.  The kids are adorable, but part of what makes it so hard for me is that the girls are about a year and a half ahead of the boys maturity-wise.  So kindergarten girls are like second grade boys.  Second grade is fun.  Kindergarten sucks.

Kindergarten boys are difficult for me.  If something CAN be thrown, it's thrown, if someone bugs a kindergarten boy, that poor someone gets pushed down, slapped or pinched.  If someone has a toy that boy wants, the toy will be ripped out of their hands. If that kindergarten boy gets confronted for throwing something that shouldn't be thrown, or hitting someone who bugged him, or taking something someone else was playing with, he cries.  If that boy has something to say and I am talking, he will scream whatever it is that pops into his head whenever it happens to pop into his head.  That, in a nutshell, is what makes kindergarten such a nightmare.

And the parents. One mom dropped off her boy every day and then lingered. Endlessly lingered. The first day I was there she complained that some of the other boys were bothering him at lunch and could I make sure they don't do it anymore? Turns out her sweet little angel was the biggest trouble maker in the class. The boys were messing with his lunch because he was first messing with their lunches, as a sort of game. I kept my eye on this kid all week and he was ALWAYS doing something he wasn't supposed to do. If the kids were gathered on the rug, he was by the cubbies, digging in people's stuff. At playtime, he was in the bathroom squirting liquid soap all over the place, etc. etc. etc. What a BRAT.

The weather was gorgeous yesterday so I took them outside for a while.  They were having a great time.  One of the little girls came up to me laughing and told me that she and a few other kids were playing the BEST game!  The boys were chasing the girls and putting them in jail.

Me:  Oh, you're criminals?

Girl: YES!

Me:  What crimes are you doing to get put into jail?

Girl:  Because we're so PRETTY!!!!

Me:  The boys are capturing you and putting you in jail for being pretty???

Girl: Yes! And we catch them and put them in jail too!

Me:  Because they are so pretty?

Girl:  No silly!  Because they are rich!

Me: Wow ............. That is Fucked Up.

Just kidding, I didn't say that's fucked up but I was thinking it.  A while later she came up to me and her hands were cuffed behind her back with a hair tie.  She thought that was brilliant.  Somewhere Betty Friedan was spinning in her grave.

There were, of course, some good things that happened during the week.  Working with five-year-olds always boosts my ego.  At playtime I went to the coloring station and drew pictures.  I am TERRIBLE at drawing, always have been.  They thought I was excellent, on par with the great masters.  They lined up for me to draw a picture for them.  If adults had their taste in art, I would be a rich and famous artist.  Also, they think I am gorgeous.  I was told how beautiful I am dozens of times.  I was hugged hundreds of times.  I was told I was the best sub they ever had every day.

And they are funny.  They made a "special person" poster about one of their classmates (apparently they do that for every kid) and I was to go around and get a quote about her from all the other kids.  Most said, "She's pretty" or "She's nice" but there were a few that were oddly specific like, "She draws good daisies on the Smartboard."  I asked one little boy, a rage-aholic, what he had to say about her, thinking he would refuse to say anything because he didn't string three words together all week unless he was having a tantrum.  Without skipping a beat he said, "She loves me."  I laughed and another kid said, "She really does," and I laughed some more.  Crazy kids.

One day I was getting impatient with the mama's-little-angel brat mentioned above when he was racing around tables when everyone else was sitting on the carpet waiting for a story.  I said, "Please go to the carpet.  I already told you that five times.  I shouldn't have to tell you to do things more than once," and a bunch of kids piped up and said, "Hey! My mom says that to me all the time!" and "Yeah, my dad says that to me every day!"

Friday, May 11, 2012


What a fantastic day.  I am subbing in one of the high school's for a music teacher.  I tentatively took the job because I have shell shock from verging out of my comfort zone last week and getting totally screwed over by the Catholics, but I thought that nothing could be worse than that so I went ahead and took the music job. 

I was tentative for a few reasons: 

1) When I was in band in high school, whenever we had a sub we had a study hall, which was great when I was in high school, but probably not so great for the poor subs that had to babysit 60 kids in a study hall where nobody was studying. 

2) Also, when I was in high school, in one of the aforementioned band study halls, my friends and I decided to play a hilarious joke on the sub.  One of my friends was born without a right hand, (she played trumpet), and we thought it would be funny to have her stuff her stump in her mouth and tell the sub that we were having a contest to see who could stuff their fist the furthest into their mouths and she won, but now she couldn't get her fist out of her mouth!  She's choking on her own fist!  Oh my god!  What are you going to do?  The sub went into emergency mode and did everything she was supposed to do and when we saw that we laughed and laughed.  Good times. 

3) I can hardly read music anymore, much less a conductor copy of music I'm not familiar with, so I am hardly qualified to teach a music class; and why should they miss out on a day of practice because of my shortcomings? 

I am so glad I took this job.  For one thing, the kids are FANTASTIC.  I really love kids sometimes.  When they are focused and have a skill they want to show off, they are at their best.  For another thing, the teacher must be pretty good too because things are going so smoothly.  First hour was concert orchestra practice.  Most of the kids are gone on a field trip, so there were only 12 kids, but they came in, got their instruments out and then a girl and a boy led the practice.  They did great even though they were missing about 40 of their classmates. 

The last class that was in here was symphony orchestra.  They were so good.  One of the senior boys took over the rehearsal, set an electric metronome, and they played through the list of the pieces the teacher wanted them to play through.  They stopped at trouble spots, talked out the problems and tried again until they got it right.  It was so great!  I sat in the back and tried to keep from clapping like a doofus during every rest. 

Now it is lunch time and a bunch of kids are eating in the room and visiting with each other, and a few others are playing piano and timpani together and it sounds wonderful.  Again, I'm finding it hard to keep my cool and not running out there to clap every time they finish a song.  This totally makes up for last Friday.  I would have done today's job for free. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hell on Earth

I stupidly took a job at the Catholic middle school.  It was stupid because A) they only pay about 2/3 what I could get anywhere else (believe it or not, my prime motivation for substitute teaching is the money.)  B) They told me about two days before the job that it wouldn't be a full day, it would be a half day, and paid for a half day.  C) The day before the job they told me there would only be two regular classes, the other THREE HOURS of the day would be an outdoor basketball tournament.  D) my job during the basketball tournament would be bathroom monitor.  By the time I got that email that told me all this, it was too late for me to cancel or else I would have.

It was worse than I could have ever imagined.  The first hour, however, wasn't bad at all.  I was subbing for a math teacher and she was very organized, although over-prepared which I think teachers think is a good thing, but I don't have time in the 15 minutes from when I get to school and when the kids come to read multiple three-ring binders about all the minutia of how the class is run.  I just need a list with times on it that tells me what you want me to do, seating charts, page numbers and worksheets.  That's it.  Oh, and maybe a post-it telling me if you have a crazy kid in your class and what to do with him when/if he loses his mind. Six inch thick binders I get; the thousand-times-more-helpful post-it, I never get.  Anyway.  The kids were very nice.  They were helpful and polite and as good as you can ask seventh graders to be.  The first hour was math class and we learned how to convert numbers of things to degrees to make a pie chart.  It was pretty fun. 

Then it was time for the stupid tournament.  At first I thought the Catholics were kind of cute because I read the info I was supposed to read to the kids and it said, "Boys report to Mr. O's room, and girls report to Mrs. L's room to change into your costumes,"  and I thought there would be some kind of play or skit or something, but it was referring to the basketball costumes.  Gym clothes.  (lol you silly Catholics!)  The note to the teachers about the tournament logistics said,

9:00 - 9:15 - kids change into costumes
9:15 - 9:30 - give kids directions for tournament
9:30 - 12:00 - have 12 seven-minute games
12:00 - 12:30 - have lunch with the kids outside

I've never been to this school before so I was in no way going to point out what I thought were the obvious flaws in the schedule because apparently they do this four times a year, but this is what I was thinking:  No way does it take kids 15 minutes to change into gym clothes.  It takes them about 3 minutes to do that.  Then what do you do with the other 12 minutes?  I'll tell you what they did:  they all came back to my homeroom and hung out, which was fine, but I started having ominous thoughts right then about the schedule.  Next we went down to the courts for the fifteen minute giving directions portion of the day.  It was 40 degrees outside.  That might be a warm winter day but it is a mother-effing cold spring day.  I didn't look how long it took to give the directions, but it felt like 15 minutes. 

Then the first game started.  I was told to stand on the outside stairs and keep the kids from going in the building.  Basically it was my job to watch kids freeze to death and then deny them shelter.  It told them they could go in the building, in the little space between the outside doors and the inner doors.  I was then scolded by a teacher (who was inside the building) that the kids had to stay outside.  You should have seen their little hands.  Red, stiff, frozen solid.  They were forced to change into their "basketball costumes" so they were all in shorts and t-shirts, with a sweatshirt or jacket.  Not warm enough!  I looked at my watch, thinking it must be at least 10:00.  It was 9:30.  I couldn't believe it.  It felt like a punch in the stomach.  But being the bitch-they-never-met-that-is-making-them-stay-outside-on-a-stupidly-cold-day really takes a lot out of a girl and time was going torturously slow. 

About six hours later, at 10:00, the teacher who told me I have to keep the kids outside said that the library was open for kids who wanted to warm up, but they had to be silent.  Yeah, that's realistic.  Was I supposed to enforce that too?  No, he stayed in the library with the warmth and the chairs.  I had HAD it with standing outside in the freezing cold and figured I could just as easily shoo kids out of the building from the inside as I could the outside so I stepped in the inner doors and watched out the window.  Then library-enforcer came out and told me I had to do my job from outside.  What the hell is the difference?  He said I should try to keep them from running in and out.  Seriously?  Has anyone taken into account that these are KIDS we were dealing with?  Running in and out is WHAT THEY DO.  I felt like they were picking on the sub because none of the other teachers seemed to be doing the shitty shitty job of denying kids warmth and shelter so I was just trying to ignore it (and stay inside) and occupy my mind with something else. 

I did a little quick math in my head:  12 seven-minute games = 12x7 = 84.  Allowing two minutes for transitioning between games makes that 12x9 = 108.  This tournament should take no more than an hour and 45 minutes.  They had allotted two and a half hours.  I asked a teacher walking by, one of the many who said, "Hee hee, It's not usually like this!!  You must hate us!!"  You're fucking right I did.  But I didn't say that.  I asked one of them:  What do the kids do after the tournament is over?  Surely they weren't going to make them stand outside with nothing to do for 45 minutes.  She said, "They have lunch.  But we decided to let them eat inside since it's so cold!"  Then I said, "But what about the time between when the tournament ends, and lunch begins at 12:00?"  She didn't know what I was talking about and looked at me like I was an idiot, (what did I know?) and walked back outside.  She was wearing a blanket. 

Sure enough the tournament ended about 40 minutes early.  The kids ran upstairs back to their homerooms.  I was so happy to be back in a room with heat and chairs I could have cried.  Then another teacher came into my room and started barking orders at the kids in my class.  Apparently we were all going to be sitting there for 40 minutes until the cafeteria was free.  She wanted ideas for what the kids wanted to do.  One kid said he wanted to watch a Magic Schoolbus episode and this teacher told him it would take him about ten minutes to run to the library to get one so it probably wouldn't be worth it.  First of all, a seventh grade boy can retrieve a dvd from a room two floors down in about 90 seconds (what is with these teachers and their total lack of knowledge about how long things take?) and for another thing, they had a smartboard and Youtube.  No need to run anywhere.  I found a full-length episode of Magic Schoolbus and started it up.  I thought that teacher would leave my room and go back to her own, but she didn't.  She sat down.  Why?  Was I done?  Why was there another teacher with me? Who is watching her class? Is it because I let the kids in the stairwell when they were hypothermic against "orders?"  She sat down in the chair next to the computer and bumped the keyboard.  The movie paused.  She got all flustered and tried to fix it by turning the volume all the way down.  When she saw that didn't fix the problem, she came to the conclusion that the "internet was probably broken."  I pushed play and it started again to her utter amazement. 

One of the most frustrating things about the day was that people thought I was so stupid. I know I'm not exactly a genius, but when stupid people think I'm stupid, that's discouraging.  Needless to say I will never go back there again.  Oh, and another thing:  I was told I would be paid for a half day: four hours.  I was there from 7:15 to 12:00 and I was supposed to stay until 12:30 to eat with the kids but I ducked out.  That is 4 hours and 45 minutes.  If I don't get paid for that 45 minutes I'm going to raise a stink.  I normally wouldn't, I'd just make a note not to do the half-day for them again because it isn't really a half-day, but this time I'm going to make a big deal about it because the day was so incredibly shitty.  I've already gotten the bit about how the Catholics don't pay as much because they just don't have the money:

To which I say, "Bullshit."

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I subbed in a second grade room for the last three days.  One of my biggest peeves about the younger grades is parents.  Every time I'm in a class of Kindergarteners, first graders, or second graders, I get parents that want to "check in" but have nothing to say.  This is how it went yesterday:  I got all the kids settled on the front carpet for a story.  The carpet is big, but prime carpet real estate is as close as humanly possible to the rocking chair in the corner, where I sit. It took some doing to get them all situated and then I started the story.  Soon after I started, the class phone rang.  I had to stop the story, try to get through the glut of second graders crowding the chair, rush to the desk and answer the phone.  It was a parent.  She wanted to know how her kid was doing.  But when these parents check in, they are on dreamy mommy time, and seem not to have any idea that they have just completely stopped a class that has 25 seven-year-olds in it.  They talk torturously slow, like this:

Me:  (answering the phone) Hello, Mrs. Anderson's room.

Obnoxious helicopter mom (ohm):  Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii................  Thiiiiiiissss iiiiiiissssss Jooooohhhhhnnn'ssssss mooooooooommmmmmmm....... Hooooooooooow iiiiiiiiiiissssssssss hhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeee dddddddddoooooooooiiiiiiinnnnnngggg tttttttttoooooooooodddddddddaaaaaaayyyyyyyy?????????????

Me:  (watching the class trying to wait patiently, failing):  He's fine, why?

ohm:  IIIIIIIIIIIIIII  jjjjjjjjjjuuuuuuuuuuussssssssssstttttttttttt wwwwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnntttttttteeeeeeeeeedddddddddd ttttttttoooooooooo cccccccchhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeccccccccccckkkkkkkkkk iiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!

Me:  Okay?.... Can I help you with anything else?

ohm: Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooooooooo,....... ttttttttthhhhhhaaaaaaaaaatttttttttttsssssssssss aaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll.....................

Me:  Okay, thanks for calling, bye.

By this time the kids are talking loud and some are bickering about who moved three inches which way and blah blah blah.  I carefully step between them to take my place at the rocking chair and resume the story.  I read maybe one more page and the phone rings again.  I consider letting it ring, but even as I'm thinking about it ten kids are telling me that the phone is ringing.  It couldn't possibly disrupt the class any more than if I just answered it. I creep through the kids again, trying hard again not to step on hands or feet.  I answer the phone.  It is the same woman.

Me:  Hello, Mrs. Anderson's room.

ohm: IIIIIIIIIIIIII ffffffffffooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggoooooooottttttt ttttttttttttooooooooooo tttttteeeeeeeeeelllllllllllll yyyyyyyooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuu...............................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... JJJJJooooooohhhhhhhhhhhnnnnnnnnnnnnn sssssssssshhhhhhhhhoooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuullllllllllllldddddddddd ttttaaaaaaaaaaaaakkkkkkkkeeeeeeeeee ttttttttttthhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeee bbbbbbbbbbbuuuuuuuuuuuusssssssssssss hhhhhhhhhhoooommmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeee tttttoooooooooodddddddddddddaaaaaaaaay.

Me:  Okay.

ohm: Tttttttttttthhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaatttttttttttttsssssssssss aaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllll!!!!!! Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaavvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeeee aaaaaaaaaaaa gggggggggggooooooooooooodddddddddddddd ddddddddddaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!

Me:  Okay, bye.

The read-aloud story is over before it has even begun.  The kids are sick of waiting for me, they are sick of their self-imposed crowding on the carpet, and we are all irritated.  I looked at John's schedule and he takes the bus home every day.  I told him his mom said for him to take the bus home and he looked confused and said, "I know!"  What the WHAT?

Another parent came in when the kids were off at lunch.  I was trying to cram down a sandwich duck style so I could spend the bulk of my kid-free lunch period correcting yesterday's math homework so I know what to review during the math lesson right after lunch.  She poked her head in the door and said,

ohm: Mrs. Anderson here today?

Me: (trying my hardest not to hold up my arms displaying the obvious lack of Mrs. Anderson) No, I'm her sub.

ohm: Oh.......................................................................................................  I'm Bert's mom...................... How is he doing today?

Me:  He's fine.  Why?

ohm: Oh............................ no reason.

Me: ........................???????

ohm:  So................... what have you guys been doing today?

Do I look like I want to chat?  I get about 30 kid-free minutes in a school day and I have about 90 minutes of work that needs to be done when the kids aren't in the room, because when they are in the room I'M TEACHING THEM.  It's a real job.  I realize that they are just curious about their little babies, but come on, how dense are they that they can't see that there are 24 other kids and one teacher?  Sometimes they come in when the kids are in the room.  They interrupt a lesson and want to chit chat and don't seem to notice the Lord Of The Rings scenarios happening right in front of their eyes because instead of managing the class, I'm having a ridiculous small-talk conversation with a woman I will never see again, about how her kid couldn't find his shoes that morning, and it was so funny because blah blah blah the dog blah blah blah his brother blah blah blah.  I don't tell them, "I'm busy" like I would really like to do because I'm a sub, I don't want to be rude and make any waves for the regular teacher so I just put up with it and try to ooze some tension and impatience, while I smile and nod.  If I ever come across one of them at their job I will relish wasting their time telling them some stupid story while customers are backing up or phones are ringing, or people are waiting for them.  I will love that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Student Teachers

I've been subbing all week for a bunch of teachers who have student teachers.  Tuesday I was in a science class and the student teacher was fabulous.  It seemed like he had been teaching for years.  He was teaching about genomes and alleles and genetics, and kept using "Let's say your parents mate and blahblahblah" as an example for how the offspring would turn out with blue eyes or red hair or whatever.  I LOVED how every single kid flinched every time the guy said the words "your parents mate."  I mentioned that after the first class and he was totally aware of it and was doing it on purpose.  Brilliant.  Despite their squeamishness, the kids loved him.  All I had to do all day was sit in the room and play Angry Birds.

Monday was a tough day because I was in one of my favorite third grade rooms and their student teacher was horrendous.  One example:   She said she wanted to teach math because it is her specialty. (At this point she should be teaching everything all day, but her cooperating teacher won't let her.) It was a lesson on multiplying and dividing 5s.

The first thing they were supposed to do was copy down these words: division, divider, divisor and quotient.  This was written up on the smart board and she told them to copy it.  She didn't tell them where to copy it (on a blank sheet of paper? in their math journals?) but to give her the benefit of the doubt, I'm guessing they copy vocab on a regular basis and knew where to put it.  But they didn't do it.  Nobody copied it because she barreled ahead with the lesson.  They didn't even have time to get out paper to write the stuff down.

She rushed through a few boring word problems, never once using the words division, divisor, divider or quotient; only stopping long enough to occasionally bitch at someone for not paying attention.  She wouldn't listen to them if they had questions, and she said things like, "Don't come ask me how to do this later because I won't tell you."  You won't?!  Nice TEACHER.

The kids were DONE with math after that lesson.  The scheduled time for math was up and it was clearly time to move on.  She tried to forge ahead with another lesson but the kids simply couldn't do it.  The first lesson was too torturous to even think of starting a new one.  The teacher sat up at the front of the class and pouted and said, "Oh great, now I'M going to get yelled at because we didn't do this lesson.  Thanks a lot, guys."

Who does that?!

The highlight of the day was when the kids were doing a phonics worksheet on homophones.  They were supposed to choose the right word to put in the blank in a sentence.  One girl called me over because she was having trouble with one of the problems.  The homophones were "hare/hair" and the sentence was "Gladys washes her __________ every day."  The little girl said, "I don't know what to put." and I thought she wasn't sure what a hare was so I told her it was a wild bunny.  She said, "I know what a hare is, I don't know which one to put in the space because they both make sense."  I almost collapsed from the cuteness.  I can't express how much I love the image of a little girl bathing a jackrabbit every single day.  I said, "Well, I suppose you could wash a hare every day but I bet you'd have a lot of scratches!"

("What? I always walk like this.")