Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ch ch ch changes

Do you remember that song / hand game: Where is Thumbkin?

It has to be british. Thumbkin? We would never have come up with that. Also, "very well, I thank you..."

I don't know. Today I was imagining small British children singing the song instead of the American children who reminded me that it existed.

This year I'm subbing in the same districts that I subbed in last year. This is the first time that my subbing has spanned the gap of a summer break in a given district. It is less comforting that I would think it to be, as schools move classrooms around, and make other changes.

This morning I subbed in my favorite elementary school. They apparently changed the part where they're my favorite. Generally, with this school, you sign in when you arrive, tell the woman in the office who you are, and she tells you what classroom to go to. Then you go to the classroom, where there are plans on said teacher's desk, a detailed schedule, specific tasks for that specific day. Generally, when I sub for a special ed teacher in this school she (it's always a she) has a lunch, a plan period, and then ludicrous amounts of free time in between the students she works with.

Today I was to work two half days at the same school. The morning would be for a special ed teacher, and the afternoon for a regular classroom teacher. When I arrived not only was the sign in book missing, but the whole table where it had sat was gone entirely. Also hiding was the woman who tells me where to go. They had apparently given her her own office, which may or may not come with increased responsibilities. Also changed was the ease of exchanged we generally have. She looked pained as she sifted through e-mails and papers trying to figure out where I was supposed to be. She went and found me sub folders. Now, these are a staple in some schools, but not once last year was there made even a mention of these. She handed me a nearly empty one from the special ed teacher, and one that contained nearly a half ream of paper (literally) from the classroom teacher. The woman in the office told me that the special ed teacher works with these two rooms, but did not think she had a room of her own, and knew nothing of a desk. Someone else said her desk might be in this one room, so I went there, and the woman in that room said that the teacher I was covering for never comes in that room, and that she doesn't have plans, and that I should just go to this one room and stay there until I had to go to the other room. Great. No plans, no tasks, no breaks.

The teacher in this classroom shook my hand but didn't tell me what to do. I filled in and opened muffins, tied shoes where necessary. I even listened to a little girl hold up a black crayon and say "my daddy's black!" (Black like this crayon?) "Yep!"
This little girl had chocolate colored skin. Weird.

Then the teacher decided that all the kids were going to draw a picture and write a sentence. She wrote an example on the board for them to copy. One little boy asked me for help, and I crouched down and told him which letters he needed to make the words he was trying to make. All of a sudden I hear the teacher loudly saying that no student was going to be getting help on this, she wanted to see what they could do on their own. Great. Thanks. Way to tell me.

They go to lunch ten minutes before I'm supposed to be to the next classroom. I sit down for three minutes in the teacher's lounge and the report to the next classroom. This teacher has plans for me. These plans say this like: 11:30 - 12:20 English

Instead of writing down what I was to have the students do, she tells me. She shows me a million worksheets with a million different instructions, and then tells me all about different rules for detention and lunch and go home time and this and that and nothing is written down. Then, as she's leaving, she threatens the kids that if she receives a phone call from me, they will be in major trouble. She looks at me and asks if I still have her number, in such a way that I can't tell if I'm supposed to play along. It is soon apparent that she isn't joking. "No...I..." I stammer. She insists that I should have this information because it was included in the special instructions online. I half lied and told her that I didn't have internet access the night before, and she wrote it down for me. I have a special gripe with this part of the sub caller system. You get phone calls asking you to work, and then the phone calls tell you to go online and look at these special instructions. You'd think they could read them to you (some computer-sub-callers do so), but no. And many times, the instructions same something obvious like "plans will be on desk in room 214"

Buhhhh. I have practically broken myself in half to get online to read waste of time special instructions like this. So I'm sorry half-ream teacher who thinks she is over prepared but doesn't leave helpful notes. You will be part of the reason my hair falls out early.

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