Random Notions and Stories of Teaching

March 30, 2005

A Day in 3rd Grade

I honestly enjoy this 3rd grade class. I've had them...wow...about 10 times. It doesn't hurt that the teacher likes me too. He says nice things about me and I get to hear about them later.

Brief background, he is a former student of my grandmother's (who my mother claims he just adored). He's worked with my mom for over 15 years (and he likes her too). Now, he gets me, 3rd generation. :) All in all, he's a nice man and a great teacher. I love going to his room.

Today was no different. Even though I really didn't "get" the gravity of the paper towel experiment. We did it anyway. We discussed it. Mind you, I am not a science teacher. I was not prepared for this discussion, but I winged it and made the most of it. After we discussed as much as I could figure out...I still had 20 minutes of the 30 minute period. Egads! So we went on to the next readings in his plans. Luckily they were talking about land forms. As they read the landform (mountain, valley, canyon, plateau, etc) I had the kids write the vocabulary word on the board and draw a picture of it. Hopefully, that will help them remember.

The rest of the day went pretty seamlessly. I love the school. I love the teachers. I just have a good day when I am there. I'd love to work there, but I doubt that will happen until my mom retires the year after next, if at all.

Nothing for tomorrow yet...who knows, I may work every day this week. Then again, probably not.

March 29, 2005

Kindergarten thoughts...

I was totally expecting a day off today, considering "they" (the administration...a.k.a. "the man") are trying to crack down on teachers missing AND the fact that staff gets docked pay if they miss the day before or the day after an extended vaction, but alas, my phone rang bright and early this morning. TSC was her chipper self and asked how my break was (I really like her but I wouldn't want her job...it must be tough) and if I was available to sub today. I stuck with my Spring Break resolution to say yes to all jobs offered. I need to become the dedicated sub I was last year...not the slacker I have become this year.

Against my better judgement, I accepted a kindergarten job for today and a 3rd grade placement tomorrow (which I was requested because it's a teacher in my mom's hall :)) So, I get to school and the teacher has general plans, but nothing ready. She wasn't expecting to be out. Hey, I can handle this. There is a pile of papers on her desk, I assume the neccessary papers are in the pile and begin leafing through them. Around this time the phone rings...grrr. It's the teacher (yay!). I get her plans and she gives me a little more direction. We're cookin' with gas now! By the time I get off the phone it is almost time for the rug rats to get there. So I race to the bathroom, knowing it may be my last chance for the morning!

Bathroom crisis successfully averted, I go back to the room to get the papers I will need for the day ready. Kids start trickling in. Hey! They remember me, yes, I've been here before. We get all the necessary morning things done and jump into our day. I'm in the groove...we're clicking. As I'm having them color their Humpty Dumpty's I look at the clock. All right...10:20, only 20 more minutes until P.E. Or was P.E. at 10:50...I can't remember. Quick to the Bat-desk to consult the plans. SHOOT! P.E. starts at 10:10...we're late! So the kids drop everything and we scurry down the hall to the gym. I apologize profusely to the P.E. teacher (a.k.a. the gym teacher) and take the little boy complaining of a stomach ache to the office.

Upon entering the office, the secretary has an urgent matter to discuss with me in the workroom. (Uh oh Robin...something is amiss) Long story short, "sick little boy" is actually "scared of the gym teacher" little boy. Poor thing. So we send him off to P.E. but call mom because he uses the amazing buzz word for illness that has the secretary covering her tush (hint...it's a side effect of illness that begins with d...and sparks an "ewwww" reaction). Mom says, she'll be up to talk to him. I figure I might as well start gathering "sick boy"'s stuff...he's going home. Mom appears about a half hour later and takes her son into the hall to talk to him. Next thing I know, Sick Boy's mom is there saying, "I'm going to take him home...he knows the result for not really being sick." I nod and say ok...all the while thinking..."Yeah...sure". But as it doesn't make a difference to me, I'm happy.

The rest of the day went well with no problems. I'm beginning to think it is the class that I don't like. Not kindergarten itself. Today was fun! Heck, I could do it every day. There was no one shouting over each other or at me to be heard. The kids, for the most part, took turns and got along.

Maybe kindergarten isn't so bad afterall.

March 28, 2005

Another Spring Break come and gone

Well, it seems another Spring Break has come and gone.

I had an exciting week. My mom and I cleaned the basement. Woohoo, you might reply sarcastically. Here's the thing. The basement hadn't been cleaned for a while...a long while. This includes several years when there was no one living here and the mold had grown everywhere. There was yellow mold and black mold everywhere. We scrubbed just about every surface in that finished basement. I don't think we got all the mold...but we got a lot.

In addition to the mold, there was a lot of trash down there. Three rooms of it to be exact. Plus carpeting that had to be disposed of because it had gotten wet. We filled a 20yd dumpster (which is 22ft. long, 8 ft. wide, and 4.5ft. deep). It was an amazing amount of junk! We also pulled out my grandmother's old bottle collection. There were hundreds of them! Hopefully this summer, my uncle will find someone to see if any of the bottles are worth anything and then we can dispose of them forever.

Tomorrow is the first day back. I don't think I will work because staff gets docked if they miss the day right before or after a break, but there is always that chance. Tomorrow it is back to the grind. I find my emotions a bit mixed. I don't want to work...but I feel better when I do.

March 19, 2005

Pre-Spring Break

After 2 weeks of state testing...4th graders are shot. lol Their brains are fried beyond recognition and everyone is just trying to make it to Spring Break. Yes, those glorious 10 days of freedom. Sleeping til noon, watching cartoons on tv, and playing outside if the weather is nice -- and that's just the teachers!

On Thursday and Friday morning I subbed for the G/T teacher at school B. I've subbed for the G/T teacher at school A before on several occasions and really enjoyed my day. School B is different. First, the G/T class is out in a trailer! It's a pretty nice set-up actually. I have no complaints. The kids have no distractions. No emergency bathroom runs. No principals or other teachers popping their head in to ask a question...it's just us. :-\ Second, these G/T kids, like most, actually want to be in school. They love it! Thrive in a learning environment. Thirst for knowledge. Ok...you get it. Lastly, these kids are COMPETITIVE. Yes, the kids at School A were competitive too. But they also encouraged each other. These kids were ruthless. Laughing if someone missed a question. Arguing of pronunciations of words! (My personal favorite was the student who insisted that it was pronounced Vladmir Put-in (as in putt putt golf) not Pu-tin as I suggestion. They argued of OREGON! Or-e-gone versus Or-i-gan. Give me a break! We're in Ohio...we pronounce stuff our way. Both are right and neither matter a bit!

Friday we finished early so I decided we would play Beat the Teacher. For those unfamiliar with the game its easy. It's the kids against me. (I figured they would come unglued if I had them compete against each other...little did I know) I ask them questions. If they get it right, the kids get a point. If they get it wrong, the teacher gets the point. These questions can come from anywhere. Textbooks, vocab lists, anything. I chose one of those Brain Buster thingies for 4th grade (there were some 3rd graders in there too...but again, this was G/T). The rule that makes the game...challenging is that only the person answering the question may speak. If there is a sound from anyone else, I get a point.

So I started giving questions. In the order they were on the card. I didn't play favorites. The first kid missed his question. SCORE! Point for me. :) Someone started complaining that question wasn't fair. SCORE! Point for me. One of his friend interjected that it wasn't fair. SCORE! Point for me. Another classmate realized what was happening, this resulted in lots of Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-ing. SCORE! Point for me. Finally, they look at me with horrified faces and realize just why this "game" isn't quite so fun. I continue around the room. They score points and there are few outbursts since they know it will result in points for me.

Then we come to "Travis". Travis is the 2nd grader that got so bent out of shape LAST year in 2nd grade that I had to stop Sparkle. He is a bad sport. He is the reason I hesitated playing any game with them at all. So I ask him, "What would an EARTH-quake be called on Venus?" Simple question (I think) but I knew he would make it too hard. Finally, he shouts, "I DON'T KNOW!" Point for me. Travis bursts into frustrated tears. I struggle not to roll my eyes. A few minutes later, the game ends and the 3rd graders get up to return to their classrooms. As Travis walks by me, he hits the white board with the score to erase it. Hitting me too. Grrrrrr....next time, he sits out.

In the afternoon Friday I went to my mom's school for...perhaps...my most challenging assignment ever. We watched the Incredibles. :) I love the day before spring break. When I entered the room, one of the kids jumps up, runs to me, and hugs me. (Not usually his way) He says, "Thank you Mrs. S for bringing the Incredibles!" Whelp, my day was made at that point. A tornado drill and an assembly later, we barely finished the movie.

If one more kid asked me if we were still gonna have recess...I was gonna scream! A movie is enough if you ask me. Goobers! Sheesh.

March 08, 2005

Kindergarteners...oy vey

When I student taught...I taught kindergarten. I loved it! The kids were great, the teacher was the best. It was simply the best experience I could have had.

Then I moved to a different state. Kindergarten here MAKES ME CRAZY! First, they play allllllllllllll day. Yes, I know this is developmentally appropriate, but when I student taught, we did reading groups. We did math...we did science. Here: we have center time. We have "tub time". For the love of God! Let's do some real work.

I find myself incredibly frustrated when I sub in kindergarten. The kids don't listen. They shout over one another. They're mean to each other. If I finally resort to raising my voice, they talk louder. It's utter chaos. I've been told that if it is my class, things would be different...but I am not so sure. Of course, this is only the second year of full day, every day kindergarten. They are still learning.

Do I think one way is better than the other? Not really. However, the first graders here doing the same work the kindergarteners did when I student taught is alarming. The 1st graders seem to "get" the information better. So maybe they are ready for it. I just hope when I get my own classroom (I'll take any grade at this point) I can be an effective teacher. I want to be a good teacher, not just a teacher. I want parents to request their child be put in my class.

I want to make a difference!

March 07, 2005

I got a call today...but I said I couldn't work today. Why? I got the call at 7:15. It would give me barely a half an hour to get ready. Some days, I don't mind this, I like helping out. But today, I was a little miffed. Teachers should have to call in on time. If they don't why should I be punished.

I wonder now if I will be "punished" for turning down a job. I don't think TSC is like that, but I could be wrong. I'd like to be off Wednesday as my husband has a doctor's appointment Wednesday morning.

* TSC = The sub caller

March 05, 2005

Good end to the week

Whelp, after taking my own personal snow day on Wednesday I worked Thursday and Friday in the same class. It was a first grade class in the school where my mom works. I enjoy first grade...teaching it wouldn't be bad. I honestly would have to have some adjusting time for kindergarten. Kindergarten here is too much playing for me. In Virginia, kindergarten was like first grade here. Best story of the experience is one of the aides from the upper hall came in to distribute candy canes to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday/Cat in the Hat Day (which was Friday).

She walked in and said, "Who am I?"
Most of the kids shouted, "The Cat in the Hat" but one lone little boy shouted..."The Cat in the Hat's GIRLFRIEND".

Oh, I laughed...

In other news, I am worried about one of mom's kids. He has the potential to be such a sweet, loving child. I can see it in him. But he has no support from home. Last year, he could barely read. This year, after 2 years of tutoring (thank God for Successmaker) he is finally showing some promising signs of reading. He's not on grade level, but he has come so far.

Once he goes to middle school...I know he is going to slip through the cracks. He has little to no home support, which hampers his reading. He lives in a tough neighborhood, where he has to be tough to survive. He bullies other children...which makes me so angry with him. He could be such a sweet kid. He falls asleep in school, partly because he doesn't get enough rest and partly to escape work that is difficult for him. I find myself wishing he had a better home life (I wish this for a lot of the students I meet)...a parent that helped him and supported him like I had supporting me. He could be at the top of his class...instead of floundering at the bottom. As a wise teacher once told me...some parents live by the saying, "we'll have them (kids), you raise them". How sad. Its not fair to the kid.

March 01, 2005

So...had a first time happening for me in almost 2 years of subbing.

District policy is that teachers must call the school before 2PM if they are planning to be back the following day. If the secretary doesn't hear from the teacher, they assume the the teacher will not be returning and they retain the sub.

Yesterday the secretary hadn't heard from the teacher I was in for. She was going to tell me to come back tomorrow, but to wait and hear from the sub caller to make sure. So this morning, on what should have been a snow day, I get called to go back for the teacher. The woman who calls people said she hadn't heard from the teacher so I should go back in. Fine, no biggie. I got dressed, packed my lunch, and started the slow drive to school.

When I arrived the secretary said the teacher was back. (I wasn't really surprised) According to the secretary, the teacher said she left a message on the caller's machine (she couldn't have...the woman who calls is very dilligent and wouldn't have called me if she had). So I went home. Talk about a waste of my time! It's very frustrating that I spent all that time getting ready and driving to school just to be turned away. I would like to think I would be paid for this day anyway...but I highly doubt it. I suppose it is one of the drawbacks of being a sub. Tomorrow is another day, I s'pose.