Friday, June 6, 2008

Substitute Teaching

Third to last day of school. I get a call to substitute for an art teacher the third to last day of school. First I think, art, yay! Then I think $68, yay! Last I think, oh wait, school is almost out for summer... they'll be crazy. Still, I accepted the job. I had met the teacher with my Art Methods class and I knew she ran a tight ship, so I could always threaten her wrath if the kids acted up. The kids LOVE this teacher. She is very affectionate... a hugger. It's middle school and even though they are maturing they are still kids who crave boundaries and attention. Middle school is rough. Kids are always making fun of one another and putting each other down... even when they are friends. To have a teacher that treats each and every kid like they are her own and loves them all is very special.

So, my day wasn't too bad. I'm really thinking maybe I should steer towards elementary school simply because I am still quite young and the students see me as very young. One young man asked my age and when some classmates jumped down his throat for being rude I explained that it isn't good manners to ask an adult his or her age. In reply he said "You look young." I agreed. I know I could handle teaching small classes of middle or high school students. Most of my classes today were 10 to 17 students. I couldn't imagine having 30-some students.

One student asked me if it's embarrassing to be a teacher because everyone is looking at you. I just said teachers have to be the center of attention at times. However it made me think about all the kids coming in and analyzing me. I mean they were looking me over head to toe and back again trying to figure out what I'm about. Mostly they derived that I am young and white and they had never seen me sub at their school before. Who knows what other conclusions they came to. I did okay with keeping the noise level down and keeping them on task, but I credit that mostly to their teacher having high expectations for behavior and work.

I did lose a student. During the change of classes for last period, two girls came up to me and said "So and so will be staying and helping us and won't be in class." I got the name, but amongst the chaos of students coming and going I did not think to ask where that student would be if not in my class. Not five minutes later the office called with a message for that student! Woops. Later the secretary called back and asked if the student had come to class because she wasn't in her previous class. For whatever reason she did not call her on the intercom as I would have done. So, I'm learning from my mistakes. It's very difficult to come into someone else's classroom and teach a group without having an established relationship with them. Substituting isn't something I'd want to do for long periods of time, though I do learn a lot and would surely improve.

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