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Friday, January 11, 2008

7th and 8th Subs

Wednesday was another inter-related resource job, this one at Woodlawn Elementary. I was there all day, but all elementary schools in this district finish at 1:30 on Wednesdays. Score!

The teacher I subbed for had her own office, to which some children came. Well, two boys came on my watch. I reviewed their spelling words for a bit, then we tried playing a spelling game. When one boy lost (he kept putting "e"s in words that didn't need them), he started crying. He wasn't out of control about it, and the other boy didn't make fun of him, for which I was grateful. All it took was switching to a pictionary style drawing game (with no score), and he pulled it together, laughing and playing along.

I sat in on a 5th grade classroom, spending part of the time helping one boy to stay focused on his work. He didn't need much help, though the teacher assured me that such is not always the case. It was interesting and informative to watch her teach. She was obviously a veteran: the way she kept the classroom under control. The way her activities were interesting to the kids and skill building at the same time.

Before lunch, I was privy to this conversation in the Library. A little boy was carrying a book open to a picture of a statue of Atlas holding up the Earth. In it, Atlas is buck naked, and his business is right out there where you can see it. The boy was talking the librarian, when a girl his age (5th grade? They weren't mine.) put in her two cents:

Boy: Is this picture OK to have in the library?

Librarian: Yes, but maybe you shouldn't carry it around open to that page.

Boy: Maybe some people don't want to look at it.

Girl: But you have one!

Boy: Not a man-sized one, though.

There was another teacher standing close enough to hear this exchange. We both struggled not to burst into laughter.

And I had lunch with a fourth grader, Mikey. Mikey apparently has behavior problems, but I didn't notice. The teacher I was subbing for eats lunch with him every day in her office, then he catches a bus for another school. So Mikey and I ate lunch together, and chatted about the relative merits of different school cafeteria entrees, his schedule, my substitute teaching, and life in general.

After that, my afternoon went by slowly. No one showed up in the office, so I made myself comfortable with the book I was reading. I don't feel too bad about it. The money I make as a sub is usually well earned. There are times when I don't get any rest at all, so Wednesday sort of made up for it.

Thursday was one of the days when I was completely on the run. I got the call to sub at Woodlawn, the same school I was at Wednesday, this time for the band teacher. The instructions said to call him, and he would email lesson plans to me. So I did.

The lesson plan called for me to be at six different elementary schools during the day. Often there was only 30 minutes between the end of one class and the start of another. I had only been to two schools on the list, the first and the last. It looked to be a fun day.

Actually I enjoyed it a lot. The first couple of classes were kind of a mess, simply because leading band is very different from teaching a class, but some of the same basic rules apply:

1. Don't give them any time to goof off.
2. Let them know in no uncertain terms that goofing off is inappropriate.
3. Don't worry about being "fun" or "likable". If 1 and 2 are going well, "fun" and "likable" will likely seep through on their own. And if they don't, at least the kids aren't goofing off.

The big difference with band is that you have to have some sense of how fast a piece should be played, how many times to play it, how to get most of the kids to finish at the same time, and when it is so bad that you just need to stop in the middle.

The bands ranged from Quail Run with more than 70 kids, down to New York with ten flutes and clarinets. The bigger ones are easier to deal with. They have some idea of how fun it can be to play in a band.

I did have a two hour break from about 9 to 11. I ate "lunch", even though I wasn't that hungry yet. It was nice to be home for a bit in the middle of the day, though.

I ended up driving about 16 miles that day. The school district reimburses $.47/mile, but I have to remember to do the paperwork at the end of the quarter to get my almost eight dollars. I'll probably forget.

I found later that the band teacher is at all six schools four days per week. I bumped into him later while subbing at Quail Run again. As much as I enjoyed subbing for him, I don't think I'd like to do that job regularly. Too much car time, and not enough time to work with individual kids.

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A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.