Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Boring Post - Just Sayin'

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 on campus today for my interview at the College of Education Learning Resource Center for a substitute school librarian position and stopped by the campus library to see if my friend Amy was in her office. She wasn't, but I couldn't resist taking a picture of their Christmas tree.  What Christmas tree could be more fitting?!

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 started my day in town by having lunch with my daughter and youngest son and after the interview was left with killing time until the CERT annual awards dinner.  I called my CERT team leader who was in town so we met for coffee to kill some time and then I  helped set up the room at the EOC (Emergency Response Center) for the program.  Community Emergency Response Team is our full name and we're an arm of FEMA.  It was just one year ago this weekend that I started the academy. 
After watching a house burn to the ground, I realized I didn't know the first thing about emergencies and signed up.  Our team, the Red Rock Rattlers, received the team of the year award.  The team I admire most is the ART (Animal Rescue Team) team.  They are on call all the time and are required to donate a bajillion hours a month. I toyed with that before the school library thang came onto my radar screen.
I was exhausted by the time I turned onto our road, but I couldn't resist fishing out my camera.  Here we are in the middle of nowhere, and we have neighbors who are crazy enough to run up their power bill to provide this for us.  Cool beans. 


LA said...

Being a sub for a day in any classroom is an eye opening experience...most folks would not last all day! And what a wonderful reward you got as you headed home...a bright spot in the desert!

Valerie said...

Wow, Sharon. I think you are doing what my husband calls "failing at retirement"....meaning you're just not ready to be retired! (He lasted 9 mos. before he was right back to work.)

I would never even consider subbing in a classroom and I worked in the schools for ~10 years. Am so glad you got the sub-librarian job since that is really your first love.

Louis Sachar...Holes...Loved it!!

Hilary said...

I am torn.
Half of me admires you for taking on such an incredible responsibility, and handling it.
The other half thinks you're nuts.

heather said...

i fully agree that our current "teach to test" program is a disaster! good for you for making a difference.

Benita said...

You are a braver person than I am. Teaching 6-8 willing adults how to weave or spin is one thing. Teaching 25-30 kids who would rather be anywhere except there is an entirely different story.

Unknown said...

Subbing is the hardest job in education. You walk into a classroom never quite knowing what to expect. I subbed for five years. Every job was a new adventure. Teachers and students appreciate subs who care. You are providing a valuable service to education. I am looking forward to having you in my classroom in about two weeks. Cheers!!