Monday, June 21, 2010

Thank You for Playing Our Game....NEXT!

It's the last week of school, and I have two days in a row in second grade. Apparently this class has had a lot of substitutes going through. I heard something about their regular teacher being gone on Mondays due to a family thing, so they have a regular sub every Monday. I'm not sure why I have a two-day gig, but it's a nice school and way loose because of it being the final week. I'm not complaining.

I really like second grade, but I haven't been in the grade in a while. I forgot about the everything is an issue issue.

First off, the kids have a book with "bell work." It's simply starter work for the day. It's broken up into weeks. Unfortunately, there is one more week of work in the book than they have left of school. The amount of confusion over this was immense. I finally just told them that the writers of the book didn't know how many weeks of school their school would be in session.

Then, I had two separate instructions for math. The note from the regular sub said one thing and the teacher's plan book had a different assignment. I asked the kids if they'd already done the work listed on the note, and they had. Unfortunately, they couldn't just transition into the second option. They wanted an entire discussion about what they wanted to do, because it looked like I was making things up as I went along. I have grown more adept at handling this type of thing. When I first started, I probably would have been dragged into explaining the reason for the change. Now I just tell them to do the work.

Alas, the capper was the writing assignment for the day. The kids were to write a letter to next year's students about what to expect in second grade. I started a brainstorming activity, only to hear complaints that they'd talked about this same thing several times over the last few weeks. The teacher had provided the letters that last year's class had written as examples. The kids demanded to know why they weren't given the letters at the beginning of the year. And, when I started reading the letters out loud, there were enormous protests over the fact that last year's class had gone to a different museum on a field trip than this year's class. Sheesh!

Oh, and their yearbooks were delivered today. When they went out to morning recess, they saw that one other class already had them. They came in wanting their books because all of the rest of the school had theirs. Expecting this reaction, I'd been speaking to another teacher about this very thing, and she said she didn't know why anyone would give them out and deal with the distraction all day. By the time I did hand them out at the end of the day, they'd forgotten about them.

Some days you just can't win.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Word Tally

I've often wondered what I sound like during the day. While I'm convinced that students simply hear the whaa-wha-wha-whaaa that the Charlie Brown characters hear when adults speak, I'm pretty sure I simply repeat two words throughout the day.

The first is "no."
As in:
"No, you may not sit wherever you want to sit."
"No, you can not eat your lunch at your desk."
"No, you will not choose a friend to take with you to the bathroom."

But, the one that must get the most use has to be the word, "stop."
As in:
"Stop working and put your math books away so we can go to lunch."
"Stop touching things on other people's desks."
"Stop calling people names."
"Stop talking while I'm talking."
"Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and worry about what you need to do."
And, at the point of exhaustion, usually when a kid is arguing with me about a consequence, is:
"Stop! Just....stop!"

Years of reading and expanding my vocabulary, and I find that I really only need two words. Go figure.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Crazy Days

The jobs have been pouring in for the last couple of weeks. I really didn't expect this. I thought things would peter out over the last few weeks of school. I feel obligated to take the money and run since the incoming cash flow will not exist over the summer.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I've also had some "social conflicts" that have led me to turn down some days of work that I otherwise would have taken. Earlier this month I was out of town to run a half-marathon, so I missed a day for that. Then I took another day to spend some time with friends who were visiting from out of town. This week, I've also been flaky on the job front. Tuesday I cancelled a job because I didn't feel well and yesterday I went to an afternoon baseball game, so I didn't even look for anything. Then, today, the job I had was cancelled by the school at 6am. I guess turnabout is fair play in that case. My own guilt comes in when I look at it all added up and find that all of this has added up to several hundred dollars lost.

And yet, each day when I do actually work is filled with such insanity that I'm counting the days until I don't have to walk into LoonyLand. I haven't posted lately, but I have a few stories that I want to write up. It's been quite eventful.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mr. Holland's Marching Drills

For some inexplicable reason, many kids don't seem to know how to walk in line. It could be that they just don't do it with me, or it could be that they never learned how to do it. I will say that I sometimes do get classes where they can walk along quietly and keep up with each other, but those classes tend to be better behaved all around.

One of the things I plan to do on the occasion that I finally get my own classroom, is to drag my kids outside and teach them how to walk in line. I may do it every single day for the first month of school. The vision I have is of the scene in Mr. Holland's Opus, where he drafts the PE teacher who formerly served in the military to teach the band kids how to march. I can see myself taking a line of kids out to the basketball court or to the athletic field - wherever a line is painted- and drilling them endlessly until they can pay attention and walk along properly.

To me, it's just a part of discipline. If the kids can't get from place to place without looking like wild animals, what is the management like inside the classroom?

It's just one of many things on my "to-do" list after this year of subbing. The list is growing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Since testing ended, it's been a little bit easier to find jobs. I've been religiously monitoring the subfinder sites for my districts, and have filled in quite a few days for this week and next. Unfortunately, they keep getting cancelled on me. I had two jobs cancelled for this past Tuesday before finally getting one that actually stuck. And I had a job set for today that was cancelled on me last night at 10:00.

It's very unsettling. I'm not crazy about accepting jobs the morning of, simply because you don't know what you'll be walking in to. If a teacher posts it by at least the night before, you can be pretty certain that some form of a lesson plan will be waiting. I also like to be able to forecast how much money my next paycheck will be so I can plan ahead. When I can, I often double-book myself. I'm sure the school districts wouldn't appreciate this practice. This means that I'm guilty of cancelling assignments also, but I know that the sub pool is large enough that someone else will snap up the job and be happy for it, and I haven't really inconvenienced anyone else.

It's pretty crazy right now. School ends on the 25th. I'm not expecting any calls the last week of school, so I'm trying to get everything I can in over the next couple of weeks. My only explanation for the rash of cancellations is that right now teachers are taking time to finish up work and if they have it finished ahead of time, they cancel the sub. I guess the other rationalization is that they could be planning personal days and then decide that it's more important to be in class, but if that's the case, don't request the sub until you know for sure what you're doing!

So, I guess it's another day at home today, and one less day's pay on the check.