Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Learning Curve

So my first day as a substitute teacher was Monday, and thank you Meagan for reminding me to give an update! Things went pretty well. Actually, the first half of the assignment I didn't even have students. It's a school that works in four blocks of classes each day and then the blocks rotate every other day. Instead of having seven classes that are 50 minutes long each, there are four classes that are 90 minutes long. Each school will be different, so the trick is to learn to adapt, I suppose.

Since my assignment was for HALF of a day, I was scheduled to arrive at 11:30 a.m. I got there early. Not just 30 minutes early because that's what was recommended by our instructor in orientation, but over 45 minutes early because I had allowed for traffic on 95...not thinking about the fact that there really isn't any rush hour traffic at 10:30 a.m. My mom met up with me to get the kids and take them back to her house, and from there I jumped on 95 and zoomed right up.

I was early enough to get to the main office and check in, and I made it to "my" assigned classroom in plenty of time to meet the teacher I'd be subbing for. That's when I found out that the next class session is her planning period. Meaning no students. Oh, and don't forget a 30-minute lunch break. I was told to take lunch and be back in the classroom by 1:15, since students would be arriving around 1:23 and the final bell for class to start would ring at 1:28.

I went to the cafeteria because (gasp!) I hadn't been on-the-ball enough to grab a frozen dinner from my kitchen, and I was not at all shocked to find that cafeteria food hasn't changed much since I was a high school student. It wasn't terrible, don't get me wrong, and for $3 you wouldn't be able to find much better elsewhere, but I will definitely be remembering to bring my lunch from here on out. There was another sub in the teacher's lounge when I got there and we chatted for a while...but as soon as she found out I was a "newbie" she got a huge grin on her face. She gave me some good, practical advice about how to handle the students in my class. Basically, the rules include things like "Don't let them know it's your first day." Oh, and "Make sure you tell them you will not tolerate profanity in your classroom." Yikes.

I got to my classroom with plenty of time to spare, reviewed the lesson plan the teacher and I had discussed before she left, and then started greeting the students as they arrived. The coursework was simple...some workbook time (grammar) and then an in-class open-book essay quiz on Act One of Othello. Should have been simple. But these kids wanted to talk. A lot. To each other, and especially to the kids who were sitting across the room from them. Fine, I'll mention that in my note to the teacher. I had a good handle on my control and didn't snap, since I'm pretty sure they were hoping I would. I calmly told them that they needed to have the assignment completed and turned in by the end of class. I even walked around the room every so often and discreetly had the "willing to work" students mark a star on the corner of their assignment, so that I could tell the teacher to look for the star if she wanted to know who was really dedicating themselves to their work.

By the end of the class, I was still doing fine. I only had one student who was tardy, and out of 26 that wasn't bad. Out of 26, however, three refused to do the quiz and turned in nothing to show for the day. That was students turned their essays in, I marked it down on the attendance roster so the teacher would have that on record.

All in all, I was pretty pleased with my first day. I'm glad I did a half day first to give myself that confidence boost I needed. Tomorrow and Friday I have an assignment with a middle school, much closer to where my mom lives. Again, I'm teaching a Language Arts Class, and while I've been warned by several "pro" teachers that middle school is probably the roughest age group, I think I can handle it. And I'll learn from it, too, so that each class I teach will be that much better for all involved. :)

1 comment:

  1. kuddos to you..... I still don't think I could handle middle or upper school....