Thursday, February 25, 2016

What I Learned Substitute Teaching ...

Substitute teaching, ever thought about it? I always thought I'd like to try teaching.  Now, I know everyone who's found their niche in this great big world, should substitute at least once a week for a couple of months.  Not because it pays well, because it doesn't.  It's the intangible experience. One - that literally can fill your heart and comes out in what you do, everywhere else.

This was my experience. The Good vs. The Bad.  A Sub line will call you in the morning or maybe you'll call in, they give a variety of choices throughout their city.  You pick one and sense relief on the other line.  Another plus, every single time - they thank you and make sure you know where you're going and who you're covering for. After all, in the grown up world our bosses do not thank us everyday. 

Upon arrival you scurry to find a parking space and the office. Once your there they welcome you, give you a badge, homeroom roster and direct you to your class, where a teacher has hopefully left you a lesson plan for the day. More often than not, they do. You look it over and realize you know more than you think you did.  

Homeroom is where your going to set the tone for the day.  I actually get butterfly's talking to a class no matter what age they are.  As they come in, I greet each one and have them check in.

Then at the start, I tell them my name again and let them know I will answer questions about myself at the end of the period; "if" we get the teacher's assignment done.  This works almost every time. 

I also found that having a large bag of tootsie rolls or itty bitty lollipops goes a long way in making them focus to finish an assignment; by promising them one if they finish and hand it in.  If they choose not to do an assignment, I don't get bent.  I have them write their name on it and that they chose not to do it and collect it for the teacher.  And then I simply let them read a book or draw, it keeps the rest of the class focused.  My main goal as a sub is to keep the class on track with what the teacher assigned and it should be yours.  

Middle School & High School are where things can get a bit unruly, middle school they want to know about you and what you know; high school they know everything.  But the exchange can be amazing!

A big problem that exists in these two areas, not all schools just a couple is 1. a poor administration, one that does not backup their teachers or subs. 2. when you don't have a lesson plan to follow and have to come up with one to keep each class busy and inline with whatever subject you're covering. 3. There are actually police officers that come to take students out of your class who are disruptive or threatening.  

This happened once, I called about a student who was unruly and who had threatened me, with "I've had a teacher suspended", when asked to take a seat. I said hold that thought.  And called the office. Their response time for being in the same building is sometimes slow and was in this case.  When they came in, a police officer talked with said student and said he'll be fine now. 

If you don't feel comfortable with that explanation; tell them to take the student out or cover the class. It's that simple, you have a life outside of this. By standing my ground, the rest of the students felt confident in talking to me about how their teacher was wrongly suspended, not surprisingly due to the same student - who was just back from being suspended as well. Heartbreaking, because they don't forewarn you and you feel like no one has talked to these students about what occurred or properly investigated what did happen.  A tough job for teachers. But, don't let this deter you, try another school. 

The benefits are still great, there's something about explaining a problem to a student and helping them understand how to do it. Or sharing what you do to encourage students on a relevant writing project or class project. I have been so lucky, my refrigerator is covered with students pictures they made and thank you notes! I once had a very sweet 4th grader make me a card "To the Top Fairy" that quoted winnie the pooh, "you're braver than you seem, stronger than you believe and smarter than you think."  And bonus asking me to come back to sub again.  That is insanely the ultimate compliment.  

Apparently, I've also covered classes where previous subs have walked out and said I'm not doing this.  If you can't communicate with children on their level; how do you communicate with the rest of the world? 

Some of the best compliments from adults, I've had, is being asked by the administration to come back and being told that support staff told them they really think I might be a Fairy. Wicked, I take pride in everything I do. Helping a class stay on track so a teacher can get a break is very satisfying. Having students from nursery school up through high school, build projects with you, ask you questions and talk to you about how they feel about what you're working on or a story you just read, is immeasurable.  The fact that 20+ children will sit and listen to you read quietly is a thrill!  Children can influence the way you do things everyday and help you be your best it certainly helps me improve the programming we create for children and families and it will give you a new perspective or appreciation for what you do have.

You simply have to go in, be happy, be kind, ask questions and it's like suddenly the whole world is happy with you.  Happy is contagious, go out and spread some. Substitute's are needed and your life experiences can help in ways you'll never really know; unless you give it a try. When I leave and think about my day subbing, I just want to hug each one of them and make everything alright.   
Keep Asking Questions

See You Soon

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