Adventures in Subbing #7

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Usually I love subbing. I post funny or sweet things that happen on twitter with the hashtag #ilovesubbing. The last few weeks I haven’t been able to do this. I have not faced such disrespect in a classroom as I have on this particular job. So, instead this is what I ended up tweeting in frustration:

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So, I’m counting down – 9 more days. But I got to thinking, there have been a few, very few, good moments in between all the stressful hours.

Like the  eighth grade girl who came up and presented me with a bracelet she’d made me out  of purple thread. I had her tie it on for me and I’m still wearing it.

And there’s the sixth grade girl who has given me a bunch of hugs. I needed every one of them.

And the seventh grade boy who shared some banana chips with me. He also talked to me about how he takes medicine to help him focus and how he can go for days without eating. The boy who sits next to him is almost totally mute. I do my best to give him attention so he doesn’t fade away into the middle school dust.

There is a website where you can watch live video feed from cities all over. I watched some from New Orleans the other day. People wondering up and down Bourbon Street in the last day of Carnival celebrations. They all dress crazy and act like they are having a grand time, but it looks so empty. Then, I stand by my door in between classes and watch the kids wander up and down. Both of these are loud groups of people. The difference is that when the warning bell rings, the middle schoolers make a run for it. The people on Bourbon Street wander aimlessly until the sun comes up or they pass out – whichever comes first. They never hear the warning bell.

 

 

 

Adventures in Subbing #6

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I was subbing in a history class last year during PAD. On  Two-for Tuesday, we could write either a sonnet or an “anti-form” poem (for those who don’t like formulaic poetry). So, I looked around the classroom that day for inspiration. Here’s my sonnet:

 History Class

Join or die, a choice beyond compare

The mind and heart do battle all the day

It’s felt in lives of young ones everywhere

How do you choose? How do you find your way?

 

Go confidently; follow after dreams

In the direction of the sun or moon

Your dreams may float or shine like gold sunbeams

Or bounce along like notes on sweetest tune

 

With perseverance run the race ahead

Respect, integrity will take you far

Diversity can be the vital thread

In everything you do be who you are

 

They say the price of victory is high

But so are the rewards; reach for the sky

 

Borrowed portions:

Join or Die – Benjamin Franklin

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams – Henry David Thoreau

Perseverance, Respect, Integrity and Diversity in everything that we(you) do = PRIDE – school mission statement

They say the price of victory is high. But, so are the rewards – Paul (Bear) Bryant

 

(edited/reposted)

Adventures in Subbing #5

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“I just wanted to know what it felt like to be someone you look at.” – Ove, from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

 

 

 

 

 

Last year I was witness to a modern day middle school dance. I use the term dance loosely. It was more like a sweaty, sugar high, hormone fest. I never attended a dance until the Prom my senior year, unless you count square dancing in fourth grade.

However, some things don’t change. We all want to know what it feels like to be the one someone else wants to look at. To be someone that a special someone else wants to be with.

(edited/reposted)

Adventures in Subbing #4

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He could steady a one-hundred-and-eighty pound man by himself, fold up and carry a wheelchair one-handed, but that didn’t count on the basketball court or in grammar or much of anywhere. – from Stand Tall by Joan Bauer 

There are skills that are sometimes taught, sometimes caught, that often go unnoticed. I saw this last year in a fourth grade classroom. I was standing in the back of a room while another teacher was reading a story about Rosa Parks to the students. A chubby, red faced boy in the back was kind of sniffling and putting his head down. I wasn’t sure if he was ill or sad or if I should approach him. Before I could decide, a student just acted on his instinct. I watched a sharply dressed young black student walk all the way across the room, put his hand on the blubbering boy’s shoulder, and speak kindly to him. I was so touched. I thought how proud Rosa Parks would have been to see that moment.  I finished up reading  to the class for the other teacher. I read about Mrs. Parks, and her struggles and we had a wonderful discussion.

A short while later, I saw the boy smiling broadly who had before been so sad. Seems he thought he’d lost a watch and was going to get in a lot of trouble, but he found it way back in his desk.

I didn’t get a chance to speak to the kind boy, but I wish I had. I wish I had told him I noticed.

(edited/reposted)

 

 

Adventures in Subbing #2

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“…but do you know, we never ask questions, or at least most don’t; they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing, and us sitting there for four more hours of film teacher. That’s not social to me at all. “ – Clarisse, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Clarisse is the student we all wish to have in our classrooms. She is bright and curious. She wants to ask questions. She wants to be social in that she wants to talk of things of substance. How many students, like Clarisse, are stuck in classes where the teachers run facts and information by the students, but don’t explain or discuss the ideas? How many sit for hours under “film teachers”?

Sometimes being a sub is like being the fly on the wall. I see things that make me cringe. Yes, sometimes there are facts that just need to be memorized, like addition and multiplication facts. And, yes, films can be very enlightening and can add understanding to a lesson, but they should not replace the lesson. However, sitting for hours and having answers thrown out – bing-bing-bing- is an all too common occurrence in many classrooms.

I don’t know what the answer is. I was not a perfect teacher, but I can’t imagine the guilt I’d feel if all day every day I “ran the answers” at the students without explanation and guidance.. That’s not teaching.

 

(edited/reposted)

Adventures in Subbing #1

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I am in my fourth year of substitute teaching here in Alabama and I’ve come to look at it as more than just a job. When  I was a full-time teacher, I had so much on my plate and so much on my mind that many days I was too exhausted to think much past the next set of papers I had to grade. Now I’m looking at things from a little different perspective.

Some days I just sit and don’t do much more than take roll and pass out an assignment. Other days might be jammed packed with instruction and discipline. The variety is usually enjoyable. I have learned to be an observer and I try to make connections with students when I can.

From time to time I’ll be sharing my thoughts, observances, and tidbits from the classroom.

“A circle was ugly without you.” -from Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty

 

Being on the outside of a circle, looking in, is a lonely place to be. I’ve felt that way over the years, but fortunately not too often. It hurts, no matter how old you are. But, the middle school years are the hardest. If you aren’t in a circle, your outsideness really shows.

One day I saw a pretty young girl sitting all alone in a room full of kids who were talking to each other and laughing while they sat together. I didn’t know her or her story, but I wondered. Did she choose to sit alone? Did she just not have a friend in this particular class, but when the bell rang would she meet up with her BFF as she headed for her next class? I sure hoped so. That’s what I wished for. I wish everyone had a BFF waiting somewhere for them. A person who was interested, a person who cared. But, I know that isn’t always the case. So, all the more reason to be kind. And to remember how ugly that circle can be when you are on the outside.

(edited/reprinted from April, 2016)

Wonder #3

 

In Season 5 of Wonder Years, Kevin is in 11th grade. One episode refers to “The No-Man’s Land of Public Education“. Sometimes this is where I find myself when I’m subbing. I’m a teacher, but not a teacher. Many days I feel like a glorified babysitter, and that’s not what I want to be. I try to be an authority figure as well as a friend to the students. I strive to be pleasant, knowing that for some kids school is their safe place. But, some days, I just see this broken system and feel helpless.

Nothing seems to fit anymore” – this thought from the same  episode is one I can relate to on many levels. Literally, as I am fighting my clothes these days. Figuratively, as I once more face a summer with no work. My drive to be a teacher may never go away, but I just can’t see my way to going back full-time. My drive to write will never go away, but I can’t find a way to steadily earn money with my writing. Even being a mom doesn’t fit the way it used to. But, to everything there is a season.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven – Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

 

 

Wonder Years Fun Fact:  KEVIN AND WINNIE’S FIRST KISS WAS THE REAL THING.