26 March 2010

Thoughts About Substitute Teaching...

When I went into substitute teaching a few years ago I really had the naive belief that I could "make a difference" and help maintain a sense of "normalcy" while the regular teacher was absent. How very naive I was! Here are some situations that often come up and prevent this.

* I have a degree in history with a minor in library science. I would find it helpful if the teacher would leave their teacher's text available for me to consult. I'm sorry, even though I've had advanced science courses I have no confidence in my abilities to be able to explain to students the chemical difference of lactase and lactose. Sorry, it's not happening for me or the students.

* On the same note, if the students are to do work sheets, an answer key would be helpful. In math classes, time permitting, I will try to work out the problems ahead of time so that I can help students if the need arises.

* To take accurate attendance, I need an up-to-date class roster--not one that is several months old and has kids listed that have transferred out of the school or new students that aren't listed.

*  If there is a class seating chart, I need a current one.  Seating charts are handy because I can know who to leave nice comments about or in some cases not so nice.  I will always try to give you positive notes even when I've had a few rough patches.

* It would be handy to have the class schedule listed and the time the class starts and ends especially if the class has lunch in the middle of it and the students return to finish up after lunch.  Along with this, it would be nice to know if the sub is supposed to escort the class to other classes or lunch.  At some middle schools the kids go on their own but there is also a high school in the district where the teacher escorts the students to and from lunch.

* If the school says no MP3s, IPods, cell phones or other electronic devices allowed then why do some teachers allow them and put the sub in the position of having to decide whether or not to go by the teacher's policy or the schools???

* Dress code--if the school says no sagging pants with underwear showing then why are some students still losing their drawers when they stand up??? I had a student, when I was a PE sub, trip over his pants when they fell down during a basketball game!

* I don't make that much money as a sub so why do I end up providing pens, pencils and paper to students? My theory is if they can afford more expensive sneakers than I can then they can bring their own school supplies. One of these years, I'm going to keep track of how many pens and pencils I pick off the floor at the end of the day.  Hmmmm, might want to do that with how much blank paper is down there too.

*  Lesson plans--they're great to have.  Keep them brief and to the point.  I don't have time to study them and memorize a bunch of procedures.

Guess you can tell I had a rough day today. The kids weren't bad just had hyperdeveloped socialization skills they were practicing. Lots of confusion because of sub shortage. I mean it could have been worse, I could have been hit in the head by flying objects (again), called the b word (again) or had smart-alecky attitudes (again) from the students. None of those things happened and I really enjoyed the kids.  I just wished they'd have been quieter and the 2 other teachers wouldn't have had to come into the room and "hush" them. 

I know it is tough for the teachers too--they don't get to have much input with the sub and the sub has no follow-through with situations that occurred during their assignments.  I promise to honestly report what has happened during your absence and not focus on the negative.  All we can do is try our best.