Yesterday was my trial by fire. Teaching experience isn't a requirement for a substitute teacher so into the abyss I marched. I had the experience of a lifetime and a great eye opener. Anyone who says that teachers shouldn't have tenure and if their class doesn't perform, should not get a renewed contract, should not be allowed to weigh in on the debate until they conduct a classroom for a day. I was early and reviewing the lesson plans when before I knew it, students were pouring into the room. It was 45 minutes until school started, but the school feeds breakfast to these lower economic level ESL students and thus my day began.
I was one step ahead of them all day, and during the math exercise where they were supposed to be working independently and quietly, I lost control of the classroom. No one understood the exercise and they all needed help. And no wonder. I didn't get into negative numbers until algebra and I was very confused, to point that I remember my frustration. I've reviewed the day, mulled over the problems and see where I got tripped up. I'm subbing for them on Friday and know how to fix some of the problem moments. They're really good kids, a little wild, from a difficult neighborhood, and not functioning at a 6th grade level at all. Already they are behind. I said yes to Heather when she asked me to sub as we worked together in the library. She has provided them an magnificent library at her expense and if nothing else has cultivated a love of reading in her students. Readers are leaders and leaders are readers.
I don't understand KWL lists and Vinn diagrams, which was what the kids were supposed to be working on independently during the social studies section. They were trying to fill in the circles but they didn't understand how to compare and contrast the Greek City States of Athens and Sparta, so were randomly writing in stuff - but they were sincerely trying. I decided that if they're still working on that this Friday, we're going to divide up into Sparta and Athens and identify who we are and what makes us tick. I'm only the sub so I get to do that. I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to be saddled with the "teach-to-the-test" burden. No Child Left Behind? Really????
I was a half hour early for the interview so I sat a table in the LRC to read. Looking around the room at the shelving units of childrens books I realized just how disappointed I would be if they didn't hire me. I really miss those books - a lot. I read a short story from the new The Chronicle of Harris Burdick yesterday. I picked the one Louis Sachar wrote and the kids were completely absorbed. I miss that more than I can say. When I went to the desk, a woman introduced herself to me and said - you must be our next interview. My heart sank. I thought Shirie wanted to hire me. I didn't realize I was "the next interview."
The three of us sat at the conference room table and chatted a bit, then Shirie said, so tell us about your work experience. I began but Shirie just started laughing. That was a formality she said. We chatted for most of a half hour and in that conversation I mentioned the story I read from the "Harris Burdick" collection. I bought it after reading the New Yorker review but Cindy said she was unaware of the collection and wrote down the name to place on order. Score! When we pushed back from the table, they both said - you're hired. I think that's my second most favorite "hire experience." My first was my original public library hire.
I'm back on the wagon
13 hours ago