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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Word Crimes

Decided yesterday to sign up for another year in the classroom. Now I should brush up on my weakest area of instruction...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Smart enough for Kindergarten?

According to a USA Today story,  some of New York City's elite private schools are implementing a new admissions test — and the exam used to judge 4-year-olds is likely to stump many adults.

I passed but guessed at #2. Spent several more minutes to figure out why that answer was correct over a another probable choice.

Monday, July 07, 2014

To Be, Or Not To Be...

That is a question!

Starting this school year, I am reasonably confident that I can officially "retire" without the additional income from substitute teaching.

When I started this blog on the topic of substitute teaching almost 10yrs ago, I didn't really know how long it would last. My original goal was to stick it out for at least one school year and then re-evaluate if I still had any sanity left to continue.

There was a good chance this blog would have been painfully short. To my surprise, one day turned into a whole week, a few weeks became a few months and then the year was over.

Now ten years later, I realize that some of those first 6th graders might now be college graduates! Some might have newly minted teaching degrees. Some might even now be looking to get some early experience by registering as a substitute teacher for this coming school year!

Maybe I'll stick around for at least another year to see if one shows up.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ten-Year Anniversary...

Last Thursday's 3rd grade class concluded my 10th year working as a substitute teacher. The official last day of school was Friday the following day.

As expected, there was not much in the way of actual instruction. All the textbooks had been returned to the library, all grades had been previously posted in the computer system and "Certificates of Achievement" were printed and signed by the principal ready for the commencement assembly scheduled for tomorrow morning.  

The only outburst of excitement came from a boy in the 3rd grade classroom next door: "YIPPEE! I don't have to go to 4th grade next year!"

Shall we hopefully assume he's skipping directly into 5thgrade...maybe?

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Father's Day Gift...

From my son, posted to my FB page

When I think about my kids...I realize that because they seem to be growing much faster than I expect, they also appear to be much older and more knowledgeable than they really are. Both my kids are great, loving little people, but they sometimes do foolish, hurtful, even dangerous things to each other and as I start to ask them a question like, "How could you think that was ok!?", I realize the answer to that question is...they're kids and they don't know any better! No one has taught them yet about what might happen after sitting backwards on top of the deck railing, no one has taught them what might happen if they wrestle at the top of the stair case. It seems so obvious to ME that those are bad ideas, but it's in those moments I realize that it isn't obvious to them and that someone needs to teach them. Then realize that I'm the one tasked with that job. Yikes, they're doomed!

It's those kind of experiences that often make me ponder all of my failings as a father, things I wished I handled differently, wondering if I'm even capable of being a good parent.

Thankfully those feelings dissipate when I see one of my kids do something kind, compassionate, or just plain silly trying to make me laugh with them. It's encouraging when they apologize to their sibling after accidentally poking them with a stick (without me asking!). It's then that I realize that someone must have taught them to behave like that cause it sure doesn't come naturally. Yay!!! When I further realize that I might have had a part in teaching them something good (Rhonda probably deserves more credit than me), it balances out the regrets around all the other things I wished I did better for them as a dad.

Then the final realization comes...I'm just as human as my kids and I'm just as naturally inclined to do foolish, hurtful, and dangerous things. I'd like to think I do fewer of those things as an adult, and I realize that it's probably because someone cared and loved me enough to teach me. Thanks Dad! Thanks Mom!

Happy Fathers Day.

 (Proud Dad tearing up now...)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Break In...

I arrived this morning for my half day assignment in 4th grade to find the office staff and teachers all talking about the break-in last night.

It seems that a team of a**holes broke into one of the schools' four classroom pods by throwing chunks of concrete and boulders through the access door window. They then used the same rocks to bust out all four of the classroom door windows.

They cleaned out all the teacher and student laptops & iPads they could carry within the 15min response time before security arrived on scene. They even left a nasty-gram on one of the teachers' desks indicating that they "will be back".

I assume that the school will be looking into installing security cameras in the near future.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Push Me, Pull You...

The first couple of days after we got back from vacation, I took myself off the sub list because I just wasn't ready to go back. The long plane flights, unpacking, answering mail, getting caught up with the bills and, in reality, I just didn't feel like jumping back in a classroom quite yet.

I did check the sub line just to see what was available a few times. It was with one of those random checks that eventually displayed a plum assignment at a school less than 5 minutes drive. It was for a teacher that I know well, and is very organized. Her class is a well-behaved 6th grade class. I saw that as the sign to get back to work.

The office staff welcomed me back from my "extended spring break" saying they missed me. I met the teacher in her classroom as she finished prepping my lesson plan for the day. She was going to be at the school doing something related to the new "common core" orientation stuff with some of the other grade level teachers. If I had any problems, she was only a phone call away.

As we were going over the plan together, the front office called with a message for me to call the substitute teacher coordinator at the district office as soon as possible. I am already at my daily assignment so I could not comprehend what they could possibly want.

As it turned out, there were more teachers out that day than the number of subs available to fill all the vacancies in the district. Since the teacher I was supposed to work for today was actually there today, the district canceled my assignment.

I was re-assigned to teach middle school math where I had not worked since the double assignment debacle two years ago. Maybe I'm finally out of the doghouse with these guys.

Middle school works more like H.S. in terms of classes. The school day is broken into six, one-hour periods. The students have 50mins instruction allowing 10min to transit to their next class.

Teachers work only five of those instructional periods during the day.  The sixth is designated a "planning period" where the teacher can process any daily district paperwork, email, grading, planning, etc.

For the substitute teacher, it's usually a free 50min break unless the teacher has specified something to do.
By the time I drove down and checked in at the middle school, first period had only 15 minutes left. The students were standing outside the classroom quad with an AP (assistant principal) waiting for someone to show up. By the time we got everyone in the classroom and I had a chance to go over the lesson plan, there were only ten minutes left before the students had to leave for their next class.

Periods 2 & 3 went smoothly as the teacher had them working on pre-assigned projects. Period 4 was designated her planning period to be immediately followed by lunch.

I dutifully locked the classroom door and headed for the teachers' lounge for what I thought would be an extended lunch.

No such luck.

I'm in the teachers' lounge contemplating which overpriced soda I wanted to drink when the school wide PA system is paging me to contact the school office immediately! Since the office is only down the hall, I walk down to see what they want.

What they "want" is for me spend my "planning period" to cover one period of art before returning to my math assignment. This would free up the AP that was tagged to substitute for art today when no other subs were available.

It wasn't a request.