I had my first two substituting assignments last week. Both involved the third grade.
It’s always a good sign when you’re substituting for a male teacher. That’s because he’s usually a coach. And coaches, at least in Redstone, really have the plum jobs. Something to justify their salary and little more. It was frequently the case in my district that they taught the most basic of subjects, but in Redstone it’s not even that.
The time when I was teaching at the alternative school and had six students over three periods? Coach!
The time when I was doing a votech class on “workforce studies”? Coach!
And last week, it was “library tech.” Computer class! Coach!
The main thing was to avoid being bored while they listened to their headsets and learned to type using some free web site involving animated rhinos. The teacher (coach) said all I had to do was prevent them from talking and make sure that their posture was good. He was very concerned about their posture. When he left, he yelled “Posture!” and everybody sat up straight.
At the end of the day, I got to tell a teacher that her students were very well behaved in computer lab. I like getting to tell teachers that their classes were good.
I met the principal at this school (the last one I hadn’t substituted at before, I’m pretty sure), and this time not for a bad reason (it’s typically not good when a principal knows who you, a substitute teacher, are). We had lunchroom duty at the same time. I told a couple kids to stop running and he said “Actually, let them run. They fall, they hurt themselves, they are more careful about running in the future.” I’m not sold on the school itself (though the building itself is awesome), but I respect the attitude. On the other hand, during my off-period I was walking out to my car and a bunch of first graders were playing outside on a lawn near the parking lot with a huge hill unattended. I can think of 100 ways for something to go wrong with that.
There is a story in the background on all of this I cannot divulge because it actually got national news coverage and would give away my location. Frustrating.
The next day was a standard third grade class for a full day. It was at Creston, one of the “good schools.” The difference between a good school and a bad school is that (a) a good school you spend 50-75% of your time teaching or helping them learn and 25-50% of your time putting out fires and in a bad school you spend 50-75% of your time on classroom management, and (b) in a good school when you scream at the kids to be quiet, they do or at least try.
Things started breaking down towards the end of the day. The third grade is the first grade in which they have to stay all the way to 3:00 and the kids seemed to mentally check out at about 1, when they used to leave. I had to leave a less-than-stellar note for the teacher. She showed up before I left, however, and I talked to her about it in person. I told her that the kids weren’t bad, they just had trouble keeping quiet. She pounced on the latter part and said that she would give them a good talking-to.
It sort of feels like leaving reviews on eBay or the Subaru questionnaire where anything less than a perfect review is a bad review. It makes me almost want to say that they were perfect, because they were more good than bad.