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January 1, 2015 / sharoncopy

My Life as a Substitute Teacher in the Detroit Area

I’ve been keeping a journal each day as to my experiences as a substitute teacher.

I’m going to put the whole 2014  50 entries into the first blog – which will be pretty long!

After this, I will list them daily as they happen.

I hope you will enjoy reading about my experiences. I have been in every age group and quite

a few different circumstances and have learned a lot. It’s an adventure!

Sharon Bratcher

2014 My Life as a Substitute Teacher, by Sharon L. Bratcher

The first 50 days

Day 1 as a substitute teacher – yesterday I spent 4 hours at Stoltemeyer School in Westland at Head Start with 13 3-year-olds and an assistant who knew the routine. Can you say multi-tasking? Most of them behaved pretty well, but it was intense. The rest of the week I’m an assistant in a Livonia pre-school from noon to 6 each day. Pretty sure this isn’t going to be my regular niche! 

Day 2 of subbing, this time as parapro (assistant) in Livonia. Highlights: 30 mins. spent alternately keeping about 8 2.5 year olds in their chairs to eat their lunches or on their cots to take their naps; 30 mins. sitting in a rocking chair overseeing 10 sleeping 1-1.5 year olds; 30 minutes pushing the “baby bus” that holds 6 little ones up and down the halls, stopping back at the room every five mins. to see if more of them have awakened and need to be taken out of the sleeping room; fire drill with the 4 year olds; playground time with the 4 and 5 year olds. Best part (besides the rocking chair time – which DID free the teacher to go do other things) – capturing the attention of the 4 year olds by singing “There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly” and reading them a book. Worst part: having to wear socks/sneakers all day (instead of sandals.) Back to Livonia the next 3 days. 🙂

Day 3 subbing in pre-school – highlights: I learned that it’s better to be assigned to the 4-5 year olds for lunch than the younger groups. 🙂 But it’s better to be in the younger groups for naps because these kids nap 2 hours – I started writing an article and a poem while I kept them all safe. 🙂 One little guy reminded me of Tin Moth Bratcher at age 2 – I really wanted to hug him. Other highlight: Tornado Drill while in the 1 year old room – not so good. Three adults unstrapping kids from chairs (after snack) and rushing them into an 8’x4′ bathroom and then all waiting in there, entertaining them with a flashlight. Also quite labor intensive cleaning up after they all ate banana bread and chopped apples – trying to get the floor swept before some of them sneaked back over to crawl on the floor for seconds. And there’s NO point in putting all the zillion toys away while even 3-4 of them are still present. 🙂 Overall – it was a cute day.

Day 4 of subbing: I walked in and was assigned to the baby room. First task: sit in comfy rocking chair and hug Sidney, who is 4.5 months old. Hugged her, rocked her to sleep – tough job, but somebody had to do it. 🙂 End of the day – they sent me back to hug her some more (and a couple other babies). So much cuteness in one building! In between: helped here and there and did the “Chocolate Chip Cookie” song with a group of 3-4 year olds. 🙂 It kept them very entertained for quite awhile. (BTW in case my kids don’t know, I made up that song.)

Day 5 of subbing: Spent about 1.5 hours helping the administrator by photocopying, cutting and inserting her announcement into fundraiser catalogs that go to all the families. Helped here and there – patting little backs to encourage sleep, reading to the 4 year olds (the teachers love how I can hold all the kids’s attention!), wiping all the 2’x4′ mesh cots down with the 3-step system (spray soap-wipe, spray water-wipe, spray bleach/water mixture-don’t wipe) and supervising in the playground. No hugging today so I stopped by the baby room and hugged 4 month old Sidney for a few minutes before I left – just one last time. Of the 5 or so daycare facilities I’ve spent time in during my life, this is by far the nicest – and btw, it costs $1100 a month – per kid. Yikes! That’s higher than we paid at Phil-Mont! Some people have two kids there. How, I don’t know.

Day 6 of subbing: Kindergarten in Allen Park.
Part 1 – getting past my “deer-in-the-headlights” look and summoning up my courage and confidence. There are 27 kids, 10 of them speak only Arabic, 2 speak Vietnamese, and 3 speak Spanish. I have one classroom helper at all times. I was given a schedule of what to cover for the day and when and then – I was in charge!
Part 2 – very intense, but doing fine. Nearly had chaos between snack and gym when quite a few seemed to be going bonkers – wrestling, etc. – got them all seated quietly on the carpet and sang them a quiet song = Win.
Best part: Hokey Pokey – actions speak louder than not knowing the words.
Worst part: wore dress shoes – feet are sore! Tomorrow: jeans and sneakers!
27 kids and she might get more! And by the end of the year – they are expected to know how to read, write, count and add – basically the scope and sequence that used to be first grade. Teacher says they usually accomplish it. This early – still working on getting them to sit still and listen and oh, yes, understand English!

Day 7 of subbing. While there’s nothing faster than 25 kids leaving the gate to fly out to recess, there is nothing slower than getting 25 5-year-olds to walk in some semblance of a line down the hall to “wherever” they are going – even if it’s towards recess! Honestly! Line up any ten people from American House and they’d beat this group of baby-steppers. I don’t think I would want to be the regular teacher of Kindergarten unless the classes were smaller. It’s challenging to keep them all off each other when they are crowded for space. Some aspects went better today – it’s the “certain kids” (about 4 of them) that make life difficult – they were the annoying part of this day. Best part: getting home at 4 p.m.!

Day 8 of subbing: Exhausted. I’m getting the rhythm of the little peoples’ classes (today was Head Start in Westland), understanding that the goal is mostly to teach them to sit still, share, etc. – basically learning manners for the classroom and life. I think the biggest problem is that I’m out of shape and not used to standing up so much. It’s hard. I suspect I could do something about that. Back to Kindergarten tomorrow.

Day 9 of subbing – Kindergarten in Allen Park: hour-long commute due to collapsed bridge on Southfield sent hundreds of cars to share my chosen route. The day went well – I was there M and T and I remembered all but 2 of the kids’ names (out of 23 present). I knew the routine and found myself really enjoying teaching the kids their reading and math lessons and “hamming-it-up” at certain times. I’d go back to this one! I read “Are You My Mother?” and “Yertle the Turtle” and they were wide-eyed, listening and laughing. They giggled at my facial expressions. Discipline went better, and I’m more used to the constancy of it: “Avante, sit down, Miguel, where did I say to put your backpack? Evelyn, hands to yourself. Moshana, please stop humming. Christian, don’t worry about it. Cayden, stop making those sounds (he’s into fart noises this week). Xavier, stop rocking on your chair, please. 5-4-3-2-1 – Peace and Quiet! Avante, sit DOWN!” Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 🙂

Day 10 of substitute teaching: Westland – 6th grade in the morning, 3rd grade in the afternoon. The morning went very well. The afternoon was very difficult. I had no assistant (first time), no directions about recess or dismissal, and a group whose goal was to give the sub a bad day. They accomplished it. I did get through all except one subject with them. Went for the “all right, heads down on your desks and no talking and I’m taking down names” tact out of desperation. Too many kids in one room – that’s my theory. Noelle Phipps-Riman – any suggestions for 3rd graders, and what would you do if you got a note from the sub that the kids were rude and disrespectful and disobedient, particularly about 7 of them?

Day 11 subbing: better than Tuesday’s 3rd graders! 7th grade Science – 5 different classes, 4 with the same lesson plan. It gets wearisome to be on the alert all the time – getting kids back in their seats, and quiet. The last class worked best – letting them work together with a partner on their assignment – that way I didn’t have to enforce “no talking”. They were all sneakily helping each other anyway earlier. 🙂 Overall, the kids were pretty well behaved. Teaching – the problem is never with the content – it’s always the discipline aspect. Tomorrow: I’m walking across the street to Beech Elementary here in Redford! 2nd grade – hope it goes better than Tuesday. I have to say – I’m pretty impressed with how all the public schools I’ve been in are run and the staff dedication. [And they ALL say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning – for those of you who think that’s important.]

Day 12 subbing – 2nd grade, across our Road at Beech Elementary, half day. Half a day was enough. Sigh. Still have to get a better handle on handling 30 7-year-olds and not getting upset with their jumpiness/chattiness. SO thankful that there were two parent volunteers there. So far, not feeling called to this age level. Best part: proximity to home. Worst part: already discussed it.

Day 13 subbing: 5th grade in Northville. A very good day! I taught a math lesson, led them in creating a brochure about a book they had read, and taught Science. I even managed the lunch count and attendance correctly. When I arrived I studied the teacher’s notes and then consulted the office about recess and lunch breaks and procedures. 🙂 I did feel like I earned my money – but overall, the kids were pretty well-behaved and enjoyable. I’d go back there anytime. 🙂

Day 14 subbing: 8th grade in Melvindale/Northern Allen Park. The day went well until the last hour – rowdy, disrespectful bunch combined with mixed directions from me and the parapro who is always there. Could have been better, but we did make it through the lesson. Had to teach the same Social Studies lesson to 4 classes – it may have been new to them but I was starting to bore myself and had to keep track of what I had said THIS hour or was it last hour? Teaching is hard work, especially with 30 kids in each class.

Day 15 subbing: 8th grade – same class as yesterday. The teacher was onsite – just had other duties – she really got on the 6th hour class’s case during 1st hour (they are there for Eng, and later SS) and they sat quietly thru the first hour. She also gave me more info about giving only ONE warning and then SNAP – they are sent to In-School Suspension. I sent one kid each hour and then the rest settled down – one warning was enough for most. 6th hour came and I put 3 kids on SNAP and then the aide got the principal who stepped in and said to send anyone else directly to him. The rest of the hour went pretty well. Overall better than yesterday and I’m learning. 🙂 I’m pretty tired by 3 pm. My original idea of subbing and then coming home and doing writing work – hasn’t done so well. I won’t be subbing again until sometime next week.

Day 16 subbing: 9th – 11th grade Math at Taylor Preparatory High School, a charter school in Taylor, MI. A very good day! I was a little concerned about signing up to be a math sub, but since sometimes I don’t need to actually TEACH subjects, I hoped for the best. It went very well and I felt more comfortable with this age group. Negative: some were too talkative, but the worst part was that some do NOT know their multiplication tables, which makes doing Algebra I harder – very sad. Positive: I supervised while they did a worksheet and discovered that I knew how to do all except one of the problems, so I was able to help a few kids. 🙂 Also – supervised a couple hours of “free time”. 🙂

Day 17 subbing: 4th grade in Melvindale/Northern Allen Park. Better than 2nd and 3rd, not as good as 5th and above. Overall it went well – just the usual – dealing with a few kids who try to ruin the educational opportunity for the rest of the class. Took two to the office mid-day – that helped. Found out that school district has 47% ESL students, most of whom come there directly from Arabic or Latin American countries knowing nothing of schoolrooms, technology, English, etc. Would make sense to me to have nothing but English immersion classes and math for the first 6 months or so, but no, they are required to streamline them in with the rest of the kids in their age group. Somehow – these fantastic teachers manage it. I was told that the young girls usually soak it up like a sponge but the young boys – aren’t used to being told what to do, so it’s difficult.

Day 18 subbing: high school in Taylor. The day went well – I find that I feel comfortable at Taylor Prep Academy, although one of the classes behaved very poorly. I’m going back tomorrow though. 🙂 I really like interacting with these kids. In my mind, it hasn’t been that long since my own were that age (although really, it has been 4-15 years). Talk about coming around full circle – it’s one mile from where I first taught right after I got married.

Day 19 subbing: high school in Taylor again – pretty easy day – had to supervise while they did their math and since they were allowed to work together and I didn’t have to enforce quietude, it was pleasant. I did make a stupid mistake and misread the schedule and ended up taking a longer lunch and not being there for one of my duties – felt pretty bad about that – I never skipped school before! I apologized and the principal said not to worry about it – it only involved a few kids and they dispersed them elsewhere. Technically they could reduce my pay for the day if they want to, though…

Subbing in 1.5 hour Geometry class today – repeatedly mentioned that they should check their study guide work against the Key up at my desk. Lots of chatter, obviously done with and not working on math. Bell rings. I’m waiting for last 3 guys to leave the room so I can go to my 20 min. lunch. Student walks up and asks “Can I check my work with the Key now?” “NO.” And I didn’t even feel bad.

Day 20 subbing: First half – Kindergarten in Westland. It went very well – this teacher has about 7 learning stations set up and she had me send the kids to their first station (computer, letter stamping, word puzzles, books on tape, magnetic letters, play-doh letter formations….) and then pull them together for a story, then round 2 of stations, then pull together for another group activity, etc. I was very impressed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading them “Caps for Sale” and “Blueberries for Sal”- two books I often read to my kids.
Second half – different school in Westland – filled in for half an hour at a time in various classrooms. Each teacher had the students doing an activity and I supervised and assisted. I even got to joke around with them a bit, and use funny voices when I read to them. I was in Kindergarten, and I think 2nd grade and 4th grade – not even sure! Some of the kids said they enjoyed having me there. 🙂
NOTE TO TEACHERS: when you have a sub – unless she is giving a test, leave work where the sub does not have to enforce total silence and the day will be much easier. That article I posted a couple of days ago about what kids have to put up with in a school day influenced me to be more relaxed about kids talking and walking around a bit.
ALSO: Just arrived home to see a request from Taylor Prep for me to come two days next week. 🙂 First time I’ve been requested by name.

DAY 21 subbing at Taylor Prep: Me gusta la lengua de espanol mucho. Fue a las clases de espanol, pero, no hablamos espanol en estas clases. All I got to do was hand out work and then – “Silencio!” and make sure they did their work. Kind of disappointing.

DAY 22 subbing at Taylor Prep: today they overbooked subs, so there was really nothing for me to do – the secretary gave me some simple but time-consuming office tasks to do and then I got to teach about 45 minutes of one English Lit. class, which I enjoyed doing. I could have gone home, but they had requested and hired me, so I didn’t want to lose a day’s pay – at least I made myself somewhat useful. I don’t think they’ll overbook a sub again, though.

I learned a few interesting things while hanging out in the office: 1) chewing gum is against the rules (this varies from district to district with most thinking it’s too much trouble to keep after kids about it) 2) a kid got detention for refusing to tuck in his shirt (really? I think that guys should be allowed to wear their uniform polo shirts out, just like the girls are – it’s silly to make them tuck them in) 3) a student that I thought was a girl – is a guy. He really does look pretty masculine but he hangs out with and acts like and wears his hair more like a girl so I thought it was a she. 4) The secretary and principal carry the responsibilities that in many schools would go to a Vice Principal – they don’t have one. 5) A student’s mom had to come and pick him up due to his behavior – she did not look happy nor speak a word – I felt sorry for the kid once he got into the car, although he brought it on himself.

DAY 23 subbing: Dearborn Heights, First Grade. I had a GREAT day! The kids were responsive and obedient. They had to be told not to do things quite a lot, but they had great attitudes. I enjoyed actually teaching, helping them with their handwriting, reading them a book. This is such a fun age when there’s time to play around with them a little – funny voices, crazy answers – they love it all. I met the principal and let him know that I am interested in doing this regularly – he was glad to hear of it since many subs that come there are not used to this age group.
Stand out memories of today: we had a “Lockdown Drill” – since we were outside for recess (one of three times) we had to herd all the kids into the building and into the gym – my class sat quietly at their lunch table, as directed. He told them it was a safety drill – no further instructions for K-1 kids. I guess if there’s a drill and we are in the classroom – we have to take all 25 kids into the little restroom and stay there quietly! I’m glad we were outside.
A girl told me she had twisted her ankle and since it hurt, she wanted to go home. Sent to office. Office sends her back – she’s staying for the day. Suggest she stay seated and it will hurt less. First recess – she flies like the wind, climbs like a monkey. “It hurts” – Well, you brought it on yourself – sorry. Second recess: runs like crazy for 30 minutes. “It hurts – I need to go home.” Sorry! “But it doesn’t hurt when I run or climb, only when I sit at my desk.” Riiiiight.
Overheard a teacher talking about how the breakfast food the kids don’t eat gets piled up and thrown away – why can’t it be given to a shelter or something? Seems so wrong. Everybody is worried about liability. The teacher in my room doesn’t allow them to eat raisins (they drop them, grind them into the floor) – so they all dutifully turned in their boxes of raisins and I had a pile on the desk looking like decks of cards.

DAY 24 subbing: Hilbert Junior High in Redford – where my husband went when he was young.  Definitely the oldest building I’ve been in – but still seems fine. Some schools have smart boards – some have white boards and projectors above them so they can use the white board as a screen; Hilbert has a movie screen that can be pulled down, and a whiteboard at the other end of the room. Textbooks are kept at the school, not taken home – I think used by more than one class too.

Half day, so the six classes were shortened to 30 minutes each. First 4 classes went fine. Then there was a big Halloween party in the gym for “the good kids” as the 5th and 6th hour classes said. Anyone who had had detentions for behavior problems was excluded. My job: to supervise 7-12 disgruntled students who were required to do a challenging Lit. assignment in less than 30 minutes while the rest of the class was in the gym having a party. Yeah, right. I did what I was told. Sent one student each hour to the office for disruption and disrespect and then ended up writing down the names of the kids who DID behave because it was way shorter than the list of kids who didn’t. Met up with the teacher later and she was not surprised and no doubt she will get after them.
The biggest challenge for me was to not get sarcastic – “Really? You can’t see how you are disrupting the class? You opened your mouth and words came out and you say you weren’t talking? I have explained that question 3 times now – were you not listening? There’s only 15 minutes left in the school day and you can’t keep quiet and just do your work?” It’s not my detention or bad grade – and my experiences of the past 23 days of subbing made it so that it wasn’t as frustrating as it used to be.

The first couple of classes went well – we read “The Tell-Tale Heart” out loud.

Day 25 subbing: Floater at Beech Elementary – across the street from my house.
Arrived. Principal not there – secretary had no info of my assignment. Decided to assign me to Special Ed room working with 5 autistic kids. I worked with one autistic kid 1-1 before so I’m familiar with time out patterns and ABA therapy – but I have never handled 5 kids for 7 hours – as she described how to best keep from getting scratched and hit, my confidence waned – she said, “If you would prefer not to do this assignment, I need to know NOW.” I said I preferred not – no special training for it and usually our “available assignments” are designated if they are Special Ed and I avoid them. It turned out that another sub in the building had worked with these kids extensively, so he was happy to switch places with me. I ended up in the 4th-5th grade Resource Room for a truly delightful day of working with 2-5 kids at a time on multiplication and reading skills – what a great day! I encouraged them to focus, work hard, and aim towards learning so as to gain better paying jobs (not the time to discuss the economic woes….) I helped one underachiever work on his 9’s and I praised a girl for using expression in her reading and helping by sharpening all the pencils.
I asked 5 young men what they were for Halloween: vampire, gangster, devil, ninja, pimp. I told them I’d hate to meet up with their group!
One girl asked why the school was setting up for voting. She said that there’s no point to it, that no one running is worthwhile and it’s all a waste of time. Hmmm. Maybe we adults say too much in front of our kids?

DAY 26 subbing: 1st half – Melvindale High School Spanish class – went very well – overseeing some individual vocabulario lecciones and then showing a pelicula de “El Dia de los Muertos” – which I “got to” see three times. I was scheduled there until almost 11 but the teacher had the 4th period free – I went to the office at 10:15 and found they were scrambling for people to cover various spots – “undersubbed” – I immediately volunteered and was escorted by a student to an ELA (English Language Arts) class for about a half an hour until someone else came.
2nd half – Allendale Elementary, half mile down the road, 4th grade – a class I had been in before (Day 17) – it went very well until the very end of the day and then they got rowdy – but that was just the last 15 minutes. The two kids who were kicked out last time were very little trouble. Taught the class about idioms and helped them use some in sentences – it was fun! None of them knew what a famine was (“feast or famine” was the phrase). Told them about how “under the weather” means sick here in America, but in Australia, it means drunk or hung over – a story I heard from a minister about how he apologized when speaking there because his wife was “under the weather” and people were rather – stunned.
Curious, Laurie Atkins, do you have this idiom in England?

DAY 27 subbing: first half: Kindergarten in Melvindale – energy incarnate. It went pretty well but boy, what a yakkity-yak group! One girl would not stop arguing with me so I finally had to lower her clip (first step of discipline) and then she cried and stood there and argued with me about lowering her clip!
second half: 4th grade in Melvindale again – same thing. age doesn’t necessarily mature. Mostly it went well but I did have to lower a few clips and I was getting so exasperated by one boy that I finally made him go sit out in the hallway (I could still see him). And I grew so tired of the constant whining over who took cuts in line, who’s the leader and who gets the ultimate privilege of sharpening all the pencils at the end of the day (boy in the hallway STILL asked!) I didn’t let anyone do the sharpening – too tired of their arguing. Very glad that we had a good lesson on idioms (similar to yesterday) and the rest of the work got done, albeit with a few threats and too many reminders. Going to chill out awhile now.

DAY 28 subbing: there was still an opening at Taylor Prep so I emailed the principal and said I could come from 11 onward if that worked for them and she told me that would work out fine (had to take Kevin to the airport first).
I watched over the end of one class and then was moved to another class just to give an exam. They.were.awful. High school history class, and they would not stop talking – for a test yet! Must admit that I raised my voice a few times. I began taking down names, but when 15 or more out of 35 kids are all talking, it is rather difficult to deal with. Kicked one kid out. Wrote down names of quite a few of them. Finally after about 15-20 minutes of this nonsense (and when someone yells out something funny, I can’t really write them all up for laughing!) they quieted down and did their tests. I had to go back to writing down names during the last 15 minutes though, as some were done and showed no respect for the ones still working. It was stressful. I told the teacher and the principal that they were the most awful class I’ve had there and they were NOT happy, ergo, the students will not be either.
The other two classes went fairly well, although some kids basically did no work at all. I started going around recording how much work each person had completed – I think I’ll do that in the future – it wasn’t due, so they’d really rather talk than work. I’m not sure I’d want to have the responsibility of kicking their backsides every day to try to get them to learn.
Well, I guess it was likely to happen someday, and today was that day.
One student: “Who’s going to be teaching our class today?”
2nd student, not knowing I was right behind her: “That old lady.”
Me: “That OLD lady! that OooooooLD lady!”
2nd student slinks away into the classroom with her head down.
Considering that she is 15, and I am probably the age of her grandmother – I’m not surprised. But I’m also not pleased. I think I’ll go sit in my rocking chair with my crocheted comforter and turn the TV up real loud while I eat my oatmeal.

DAY 29: Montessori, Matilda, Migraine, and Manhandling
Montessori – would have been helpful if the teacher told me about their “relaxed” view of kids getting up to walk around. Still, this 4th grade class was very challenging and pushed the limits right out the door where a few of the kids ended up sitting at a table in the hall a couple of times. Not a good day, overall. Talk, talk, wander, wander, talk, talk, talk and make a huge mess and take all day to get through every little thing.
“Matilda” – goes on my list for horrible book and horrible movie – do you think I’m just too serious that I saw no humor in it? Showed the whole 90 minute movie to the class today – too long for them to sit still and many had seen it before.
Migraine – thought I was going to get one at the end of the day – got the “floaters” in my eyesight after some bright light or another – I guess the ibuprofen warded it off – haven’t had one in years.
Manhandling – After numerous requests, commands, etc. to “Charley” to stay in his seat, I pulled on the arm of his hoodie (not hard) and led him back to it. He told the principal and she took me aside and said,”Don’t.”

Right now all the want ads in my email for office jobs are looking mighty good.
But – I’m not giving up yet.

Note about charter schools: some teachers have told me that parents pull their troublesome kids out of the regular public schools and put them into charter schools in the hopes that it will straighten them up. Not what I thought charter schools were going to be.

DAY 30: Taylor Prep Math classes. Much better day – turns out it works BEST when the teacher gives out timed assignments.  About 8 students went to a presentation by Wayne State U. and missed the first half of class – so – when they returned, I had them wait in the hallway while the first group finished the last 5 minutes of their test. Then I had the first group consolidate on one side of the classroom and asked the second group to all sit near my desk – thereby being right in front of me as they quietly took their tests and the other students worked on homework/goofed around quietly. Divide and conquer! One girl said to me, “you don’t like us, do you?” (because of the other day). I said “sometimes I don’t like your actions but I like the students.” Glad to tell the principal that it was a better day, although the second class – I pretty much gave up on keeping them silent. If they have to work with a partner (because 1/3 of them always conveniently forget to bring their laptops and there are no textbooks) then one pretty much has to expect some talking. I wander around to make sure they are working on math, but seriously – there are 30 students who all know how to quickly change to another screen, so it’s really a formality – that keeps some of the kids working, at least.

Had a conversation with a student about “1984” and how having all information online will make it even easier for the government to bring in Newspeak and get rid of info that they don’t want anyone to know or believe anymore. He hadn’t heard of the book but was intrigued – said his history class had talked about it.

New student – tall, about 6’2″ – he and some others were talking about basketball and a short kid said “I’ll be dunking that ball even if I’m only 5’5″ tall.” They all laughed – with him, I think. He seems to be a part of the group, even though he hasn’t grown into his facial features yet either. New kid looks like he’ll be accepted all right, judging by the crowd around him during the free time. He beat everyone in arm wrestling and it was pretty humorous.

Made me think of my sons.

DAY 31: Beech Elementary (across the street) – Physical Education teacher – What a GREAT day! This was awesome. This was fun. This, hopefully, shall be repeated.  It did seem silly to be wearing capris and polo shirt and sneakers and walking out my door when it was SNOWING – but the commute was short and as I figured, the gym was rather warm. They asked me to come back tomorrow but I thought I had a full day scheduled – too bad I didn’t realize it was only a half day – I could have worked the other half here.  I have to buy one of these push-button whistles. And I bought a watch – but already can’t find it. Sigh. Maybe I’ll use that other half of the day to tidy up my desk area….

DAY 32: A good, but odd day. I started out by oversleeping – forgetting to set my clock. I was late to Northville HS and they didn’t get my message – shared PP and videos with the Psych class about false memories – very interesting! 2nd period they didn’t really need me, so I did some filing in the office to be useful – left an hour earlier than the half day had called for – drove to Melvindale HS (35 mins away) and subbed in History classes. Last hour – they have a class where they help out somewhere or get help if needed – everyone signed out and I sat there alone for 45 minutes, just in case anyone came back. Okay by me.

Every time I have taken a half day assignment, the school has asked if I can stay the second half, but I have always had a second assignment (usually in the same district – not way across town like today – but hey, I figure I spent $3 in gas and earned far more than that!) So, maybe I should sign up for mornings and then just hope I get asked to stay?

According to the Junior Scholastic magazine I read in the classroom today, Canada has 3.8 million square miles and USA has 3.7 million square miles and China has 3.7 million square miles also. This does not jive with what I learned years ago – what changed? Also – Dutch friends get ready to cringe – here’s a quotation: “Last month, hundred of people in the Netherlands (also known as Holland) …..” 36 million people in Canada, 318 million in USA and 1.4 billion in China. Life expectancy in Canada is 79-84 and in USA – 76-81.

DAY 33 – another two-fer. Morning in Livonia MS 7th grade phys. ed Volleyball classes, and afternoon in Westland Kindergarten. Both went well. Reminded of the innate joy and lovable craziness of 12 year old boys – brought back many memories of my sons and their friends. So fun to sub for phys. ed – where everyone is glad to be there! One funny thing: I was told to do attendance and warmup in one gym and then switch places with the 8th grade teacher in the other gym (which had better volleyball setup). I stepped into the office very briefly to get the attendance roster and when I came back the two classes had switched places – but I didn’t know, since I’d only seen the kids for about 5 minutes. An 8th grader tipped me off – “Your class is over there!” I was so surprised that I didn’t see them switch – they can sure move fast when they want to!  Kindergarten went about as usual – many reminders all around. But there was a high school girl there to “help” – as I proceeded with calming and quieting the group – she would shout at them to be quiet and listen to the guest teacher. It wasn’t really helpful to have two of us working at it in different ways. She and the parapro were really – rather nasty-sounding when they yelled at the kids. I asked the girl to please let me handle it – I did want her to help by going around and helping the kids with their “math” papers – but she was mad at me. Had her take an uncooperative kid to the office and she didn’t come back. I find that parapros are mostly helpful with taking attendance (because they know the names), assisting with the work when kids need help, but I’ve had a couple that constantly talked when the kids were working, and that’s not so good. Sigh. Reminds me of times I interrupted my kids’ classes and talked too long. Live and learn!  Oh – and after I had the class do the Hokey Pokey, one girl informed me that I was the best.guest.teacher.ever. 🙂 I love 5 year olds.

DAY 34 – forgot to check my starting time today and ended up being 70 minutes early! Went to Burger King for a little while rather than running my car in the freezing parking lot. Silly me! Today I was a floater in Westland – each hour a different class, and I had K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades. Most of the hours went fine – the usual nonsense, but I had the opportunity to actually teach a good portion of the time. Right now I don’t have anything signed up for Friday or any of next week – sure hope something comes through!

Not to brag, because I’ve had some rough days with kids too, and 3rd grade is one of the worst – but during the last hour, they put me in a class along with another sub who had been there all day and was having a rough time of it. We determined together that she would teach and I would be the disciplinarian. They were a big challenge, but it went better and she thanked me several times for coming (as if I was a volunteer and not getting paid!) The best moment was when I strictly called for silence – and they knew by then that names would be taken if they didn’t comply. The room went quiet – except for one boy’s very quiet remark, “She’s the real thing.”   🙂

DAY 34 – Part Two – I didn’t mention a time when I was briefly very angry. There was a parapro in the 4th grade room who had never been there before either. The teacher had set up the smartboard with the math page (with special “markers” so I can write on it) and the dojo (list of kids’ names and they get positive or negative comments added throughout the day) was also opened. I was just calling the kids to quiet down and getting ready to show them how to do their subtraction assignment (something like 102,234 minus 99,852) and listen and one boy was a bit disrespectful and I warned him. The parapro got up and said, “I can mark him a  negative if you want and went over and closed out the subtraction lesson to pull up the dojo. First – I didn’t need her to intervene, and I didn’t want her to give him a negative – that was my decision. Second – she lost the math assignment and we didn’t know how to find it on the computer. 😦  Really annoying. I had to explain it to them without the visual of doing it in front of the class. She apologized about three times – I know she meant to be helpful – but – she wasn’t. Live and learn.

DAY 35 – Kindergarten at Montessori school in Livonia. At this school, when the kids arrive, the lights are down low and there is quiet music playing – they do their morning tasks and then sit quietly and read. I haven’t seen that at any of the other Kindergartens (about 5 different schools). Definitely an idea to consider. Another great idea: they have a Tattle Jar! Whenever someone wants to tell on someone, they go to the jar, open it, and whisper it, then close up the jar. Oh my, I am going to make my own and take it with me to all the young classes! What a time-saver!

These kids are so – BEAUTIFUL! as are all the five-year-olds I’ve seen.

All went very well because the teacher’s aide was there almost the entire day and she knew the kids and the process.I throw in a little bit of humor and they love me. 🙂  I enjoyed asking small groups of kids to list 6 things they are thankful for, which I printed on a post-it and they copied onto their turkey page and then colored. I enjoyed reading to the group, and teaching them about Thanksgiving, defining the words feast and worship, etc. What a well-run class with so many items for them to learn from. The kids are so smart – knowing all the routine, where everything is kept, etc. Hope I get to go back there!

DAY 36 – Livonia MS and then Livonia ES. The first half I was in the resource room and one Soc. St. class and had very little to do – I guess my presence and occasional comment was useful – and I helped a girl with her math for about half an hour. The second half I taught First Grade, and it went very well. I love working in Livonia – it’s the next closest to my house, after Redford!

One comment – I had already learned not to eat dairy on subbing days because sometimes I have an intestinal reaction and I can’t just leave the classroom whenever I want to. Well, today I am adding “No White Castle” to the list for the same reason. Fortunately, “it” hit when the kids were at lunch. 😦

DAY 37 Taylor Prep English Teacher – Yay! I finally got to teach an English class! Or, actually, I got to teach 5 of them, and 4 of them were the exact same lesson repeated. Fortunately, the last class was lively (and about 35 kids) and the discussion was fun. We read a few articles expressing opposing viewpoints about whether teams with Indian names should have to change them, – they will be writing an essay tomorrow – today we discussed it and they took notes to get ready to write their essay. There were some humorous moments and some passionate proclamations. In a school that is quite racially mixed – I was actually surprised that the majority of them thought it was no big deal and that college teams shouldn’t have to change their names, and the Redskins shouldn’t either. There were a few in each class that found it offensive. I enjoyed the whole day (except for a couple students who were being a pain in the third class) but overall – it went great. I talked about writing strategy and mentioned that I’m a published writer. One student asked me a few questions and later I encouraged him to write for his church publication.

This teacher’s prep hour is the last class period, so I got off an hour early, too!

DAY 38 –  This is really long – there were two half days.

I spent the morning as a paraprofessional one-to-one helping a Kindergarten girl named Lillian in Westland. I accidentally signed up for this – I thought I had signed up for a teacher-sub position (big difference in pay – $4/hour less for parapro!). It was difficult to know how much to “make” her participate or whether to just do other things with her – it didn’t really go very well – I felt like I needed more information!  It went okay for awhile but since I was rather at a loss as to what to do, others took her out of class the last hour or so. Apparently it’s her last day attending there. In the meantime, I did prep work for the teacher – cutting, stapling, etc.

The Kindergarten teacher was – amazing, someone I could really learn from. Those kids were  SO quiet – she even played “Let It Go” from “Frozen” and had them doing various stretches and they were COMPLETELY silent during the entire song. I was astounded! She quickly moved them from activity to activity, including lots of info and many, many words of praise. Her voice/attitude was perky-incarnate – the only reference I can think of is Amy Adams in “Ella Enchanted”. As she checked each child’s work, she gave personal attention and praise and they were bumped “up” on the behavior chart (from whatever they call normal to superstar) and you should have seen how their faces shone as they crossed the room to change their status! When a boy couldn’t open his Pop-Tart package, she pointed to the bin on the table and said, “Can you problem-solve?” (Apparently that is a verb, now). He reached in for scissors and cut open his own package. When Lillian started to have a meltdown because she didn’t have a gray crayon in her box, the boy next to her said, “Lilly, you can problem-solve by going to the big bin of crayons over there!” He had an attitude of total willingness to help, on several occasions. I was SO amazed by this teacher – and the quiet, quiet way she leads this class and they love her. More about public school philosophy later.

2nd half- 6th grade sub in Livonia – the kids were very good and all went well. I remembered enough about multiplying and dividing fractions to be useful, too. Being with them, talking, listening – watching them interact and get excited about their 5-day vacation – it made me miss my kids, my former life, my years of 8-person family, and I went to the car and wept.

DAY 39 subbing: Canton Prep – very good day. Basically, I gave out and monitored Geometry work, insisting 9th graders work quietly. I told them that if they needed help, to raise their hands and I would help them. My plan was – to get another student to help them because I couldn’t get past the first two problems – but – no one asked. 🙂 I also sat in on an Algebra I class and learned how to determine the positive or negative slope without actually making a graph (easy, once I watched the explanation). It was a very good day. I’ll be back there Tuesday and Wednesday this week – in different classes. I have told these classes about the “Art in Video Games” exhibit at the Flint Institute of Arts – just because I thought some might be interested.

Something that works well when I am subbing in high school: as the students enter, I ask their surnames, mark them present on the roster, and give them their assignment sheets. This serves several purposes: 1. I don’t have to (a.) spend time reading off the whole list, possibly (b.) mispronouncing unusual names and causing riotous laughter/embarrassment and (c.) constantly shushing people so that I can hear the “here”. 2. It gives me an opportunity to establish a small amount of rapport as I occasionally joke with friendly students or give them a wisecrack answer or compliment their clothes. 3. It gets the assignments passed around, sometimes before the second bell even rings. 🙂

DAY 40 subbing: first half of the day in Canton – they really didn’t have anything for me to do so I sat in on some classes and was a little bit helpful – opened doors, supervised a little – basically didn’t do much at all. Then I did two 9th grade World History classes in the afternoon and that went well. The teacher is part time there and the desk hasn’t been dusted in a LONG time, and there were clumps of dust on the floor around the desk and piles and piles of papers everywhere. Well – it exceeded my tolerance level, so while supervising the students doing their work, I removed everything (except the computer) from the desk and table, dusted, and then organized all the papers by matching similar things together and paper clipping them. I hope the teacher won’t mind that her many piles are neater. Honestly, I can’t understand how she could have student papers from September still sitting around – and the note that I wrote to her 6 weeks ago when I subbed there! Never seen anything like it at any school. Being part time may be an excuse, but I don’t think it’s a good reason.

Comment from Patti Rhoton:

Patti Rhoton No janitor, no full time teacher. Was there any education happening?

Lots of education, Patti Rhoton. It seems to be a really good school overall and the kids are mostly pretty nice. Most of the teachers are full time – this particular one divides her time between two charter schools – per their request and spends her prep time driving between Canton and Ann Arbor. I learned today that she also has two small children, so she’s a busy woman – so I don’t fault her for being messy (that would be the pot calling the kettle black!) now. Oh, and today – she thanked me for doing the clean up and another teacher asked if I would sub for him and do the same.   As for the janitor, they are having “issues” with the service that was hired and they are working on it.

DAY 41 subbing: Back in Canton. The teacher I subbed for yesterday thanked me for cleaning up her messy desk and another teacher said he hopes I sub for him and do the same. 🙂 Turns out she teaches in Canton and Ann Arbor charter schools and spends her prep time nearly every day driving – can’t fault her for not having much time there.

Today went pretty well – I did three 90 minute math classes and 1 90 minute Spanish class. Overall, it was good, but since the Spanish class wouldn’t cooperate, I told them they were having a quiz over the vocab words they were supposed to be studying and I gave them one – that I made up on the spot. 🙂 Left a note for the teacher. Too much talking.

Not surprisingly, I was reminded of my own days in high school, and some of my actions. Can’t say that I ever cared about how the substitute (or certain regular teachers) felt about my excessive talking. As I recall, it was partially boredom – I could figure out how much I had to actually pay attention in order to get the gist and get a good grade, and how much I could daydream or chat or pass notes to my friends Robin and Lucy. I even caused a ruckus once by taking a baby toy that made a moo-ing noise to school in 10th grade and though I wouldn’t personally use it during English class with Miss Wilson, I slipped it into the hand of a boy who would, and I enjoyed the melee that ensued. I was reprimanded when I showed up at the office and asked for the toy back, but as there were no “real” consequences, I didn’t let it worry me. BTW, I tried to contact that teacher years later when I became a teacher – to apologize. I remember that my friends and I only misbehaved in certain classes – in others we wouldn’t at all. Pretty sure that in 11th grade History class Lucy Atkinson and I both received a comment “Makes an excellent effort” and a comment “disrupts the class” on our report cards. I’ve always tried to figure out how to be the teacher whose class runs smoothly and really teaches the subject. Sometimes I’ve managed it – other times not. Still learning.

Anybody know a great book on the subject?

Day 42 subbing: morning 4th grade, afternoon Kindergarten. Both groups of kids were great. Drove from one school in Livonia to the next in a hurry because the schedule said I only had five minutes to get there and to eat lunch on the way. Arrived and was told I had 45 minutes until I was needed. Guess I didn’t need to bolt that ham sandwich so quickly.

Myths that have been dispelled about the public school system:
1. they never say the Pledge of Allegiance – they all say it every day.
2. there is very little discipline – the schools have very strict discipline structure
3. teachers don’t care, don’t try hard – not true with the ones I’ve seen
4. can’t celebrate Christmas – classroom today was full of Santa Claus stuff – the secular part, at least. Christmas trees seen in several schools.
5. the kids are horrible – nope. Some are troubled, or arrogant, or disruptive, but the majority are just – kids.

Helped the Kindergartners with math – made a graph showing their favorite colors. Helped some boys build a house with Duplos. Read “Green Eggs and Ham” and did the “Hokey Pokey” again. Supervised reading time. In the 4th grade I taught the math and Social Studies lessons as well as the Leader in Me lesson (today it was on “Sharpening the Saw”).

The moral standard for many of the schools is based on Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Schools follow the “Leader In Me” program and the kids not only learn the 7 habits, they have hand motions for when they recite them. A different habit is emphasized each month, and many of the schools have signs in the hallways identifying the various corridors as “Proactive Pathway” and “Win-Win Way” etc. I found it humorous this afternoon when we were about to leave and I mentioned there were scraps of paper on the floor and asked the 6 remaining kids to pick them up. One kindergartner said, “I want to be proactive!” and ran to gather them up. Another said, “I [emphasize the I] want to be proactive!” The 7 Habits emphasize ways of getting along and helping one another and developing good study habits – so I have no problem with them. It’s just interesting the way that this has really taken off.

Some of the schools use the School Specialties “Premier Agendas” program/agendas, but I’ve seen more that are “Leader in Me.” All of that brings back memories from when I worked at Premier (1993-1996) and it became part of Franklin/Covey at the time. Now my daughter works for School Specialties in Bellingham, WA.

DAY 43 subbing: 2nd grade in Livonia. Kudos to Noelle Phipps-Riman for her advice to me when we had lunch recently! This particular Livonia school works with a lot of kids with difficult home lives. Noelle is a 3rd year teacher in a similar type of school and she encouraged me to move the kids up the discipline chart (into “YAY!”) territory instead of down the chart (into “big trouble!”) territory.

I had not been to this school before so I didn’t know if the terrible first 90 minutes was because they were “pulling something” on the substitute or if that’s how they roll (not listening, group arguing, someone pee’d on and around the toilet in the class restroom…..) Flustered, I stopped in the office to use the phone while the kids were at Music class. The secretary took a few minutes to describe the students: transient – many will come and go, enter and move, several times throughout the semester. Some don’t even live in Livonia but if they provide what seems a credible address, they are accepted even if teachers suspect they live in Detroit. She said that many of the kids come in for hugs daily because it’s the only hug they get all day. Families are splintered and split and as the holidays get close, many kids are anxious about where they will be spending them. Some of these kids live with a good deal of pain. Expecting the level of discipline and quiet that some other schools enjoy – “just doesn’t happen here” she said.

I returned to the classroom and gave out a lot of hugs and side hugs. I gave praise for whatever I could think of. I moved from emphasizing the negative and who was going to be marked down to complimenting neat writing, quiet sitting, etc. Then – this totally amazed me – but it’s exactly what Noelle told me: I told them that I was going to give them 10 minutes to do their math sheet (it was simple – a chart counting to 100) and that EVERYone who finished within ten minutes and did it neatly would get their clip moved upward on the behavior chart. “Go!” TOTAL silence and diligent work! Even from the most difficult kids! I quietly moved around the room admiring the neat figures and wishing that more adults would make such easy-to-read numbers. They all got moved up (only one student didn’t finish in time but she didn’t feel well so she still got to move up).    As a result of doing this a couple of times in the day – the chart looked like the class was fantastic today. Now – they were difficult and we didn’t get through everything because there was so much interruption, and a few kids did get moved down. But I learned something from that ten minute math lesson. And I rolled with the punches throughout the rest of the day, and though tired at the end, I was not upset/angry/frustrated – and we did accomplish quite a bit! Always good to have a reminder that first and foremost, teachers don’t teach a subject – we teach students.

I am very happy to be in a position to continue to learn – and get paid at the same time. 🙂 I think I shall start culling a list of “best practices” that I see in classrooms – maybe I’ll have one of my own someday?

INTERIM – I was sick three days. I called out Monday. Tuesday I went to the Japanese Immersion School  in Livonia – but they hadn’t meant to call a sub so they called the school district and I was sent to a Middle School to do music for half a day. However, I felt pretty weak and sick and when I saw that it was three hours of band/orchestra, I really felt like I couldn’t deal with it – a class where I know very little about what they are doing – so I excused myself and left. L   Wednesday I couldn’t cancel and I didn’t know what else to do so I called the school to let them know I was ill and not coming – now I learn that I’m supposed to call PESG.

DAY 44 subbing: half a day in Plymouth – Canton Middle School Science classes. It went very well – the kids just did their experiments and microscope work and I supervised and reminded some to stay on task – a couple of good groups of kids – 6th grade. New ideas: she has a “borrowing table” that has hole punchers, pencils, pens, various other things they might need – she folds labels around pens so they stick out like a flag and have her name on them so they don’t get removed – great idea! Another idea many teachers have – a cup filled with either tongue depressors or popsicle sticks with kids’ names or numbers on them – so when the teacher wants to call on people – it’s random.

A word about Science – I still react the same way I always have to words like protist and cell membrane experiment and phylum and protozoa – I get an overwhelming feeling of distaste and a desire to exit the subject immediately. Basically, I survived Biology in 8th and 9th grades and a couple months in college and homeschooling and I have been forever thankful that there are people out there who actually like it and do well with it. To each his/her own.

Two posters on the wall:

FIRST – Timed Partners: 1) Teacher announces topic and time 2) Think Time 3) A shares, and B listens 4) B responds and praises 5) B shares and A listens 6) A responds and praises.    Seems like a great way to teach kids to really listen to one another’s ideas – many of us adults may have missed such lessons and should have learned them earlier in life (how often does the responder just go on with his/her own correlated story rather than actually talking about or affirming what the first speaker said? Hmmm?)

SECOND – Rally Robin: 1) Teacher poses problem 2. Partners repeatedly take turns answering orally.    Again – I think it’s great to be teaching them the etiquette of how to interact – it’s such a valuable skill that many adults lack in the workplace.

For that matter, maybe some adults could go back and review basic handwriting of numbers and letters too.

Further note: Plymouth has given computers to 6th graders this year for the first time – chromebooks, they call them, by DELL, and each kid has a padded red carrying case with a long shoulder strap to carry it with. Families have to pay for damage or they can buy insurance to offset any possible damage – this is info the kids gave to me. Kids said that some of the chromebooks are falling apart even when they haven’t been treated poorly.

DAY 45 subbing: half a day with 6th grade in Plymouth and half a day with 1st grade in Plymouth. All went well! Overheard convo with the 6th graders:

“She’s old.”

“That’s rude – you shouldn’t say that!”

Louder – “She’s probably 23”

Me, incredulous voice: “Do you really think that I’m only 23?”

“No, you’re older than that.”

“She’s probably 42.”

“That’s rude – don’t say that – you’ll hurt her feelings!”

(whispered) “Yeah, 42 is really old.”

Me, smiling, “42 sounds okay.”

I’ve had to remind myself of some basic math with fractions lately.

I LOVE first graders. 🙂 Did some math (measuring a line segment 3 inches long and counting backwards by twos). Did some reading (the -ell family of words – what rhymes with bell? Ended up singing “Jingle Bells” and a few other songs while they cut out and colored their word-wheels. Only 19 in the class – easy day! The difference between dealing with 19 and dealing with 17-30 is huge.

DAY 46 subbing: half day of 2nd grade in Plymouth (went WAY better than other 2nd grade encounters of the rambunctious kind) and half day in a different school (Canton) in 1st grade. All went well – did have to deal with a boy having a bloody nose (helped him “manage” and then sent him to the office). And COLD – first school didn’t have heat – it was 50 degrees outside – but freezing in the classroom! And then I had recess duty and I had not worn my warm coat :(. Note to self: keep a hoodie and gloves etc. in the car because elementary school = possibility of half hour recess duties unless the temperature goes below 15 degrees F.   (Say, what?)  😦

I don’t mind the cold if I have enough layers (read: 3-4 more than the average person, or 8 more than Kevin Tank Bratcher). 🙂

Nothing more fun than a little silliness with kids. I stood up to demonstrate on the whiteboard how to draw a capital E – and showed them how to make the first downward stroke, followed by six lines going from left to right.  “No!” “That’s not right!” etc. – massive rebellion by all-(letter)-knowing 6-year-olds, followed by lots of grins when they realize I’m joking.

DAY 47 – half a day in Melvindale Kindergarten back at a school I was at back in September. Some of that class saw me and excitedly waved – I only remembered one name (one that had been said frequently, although not the only one that had.) This group was loud today – still excited after making gingerbread houses in the morning. Also – too tattle-tale and too “bossy” as in constantly telling the SUB that I was not doing things exactly as the teacher does them. The difficulty was that the kids were giving me different stories so I couldn’t just alter what I was doing – I finally just told them that today they were going to do things Mrs. B’s way.

Good ideas I saw in this classroom: 1. using a hardware-type container with lots of little drawers for paper clips, fasteners, etc. all clearly marked. 2. Having wooden holders for magic markers – the holes drilled into the wood exactly fit the cap of the marker, so they cannot put it away without a cap either facing up or down – so they HAVE to put the cap on the marker and then stand it in the hole. 3. Store-More chair-back covers that slip over the chair and have a huge pocket on the outside that holds a couple of full sized notebooks and a very thick pencil/crayon box.         4. Wire strung across from just below ceiling, one side to another – and some type of clips hung from the wire – displays artwork above one’s head – I could see a homeschooler or any parents doing this as long as they aren’t too tall to go under it.    5. Gingerbread houses – EASY method – they used 8 oz. or 10 oz. milk cartons and the kids frosting-glued the graham crackers to it and then frosting-glued various candies all over them. SO much easier than building the house entirely from graham crackers. Also – it’s a good size project – not too big – so the child can do it pretty much alone instead of the parent ending up doing most of it, which accomplishes nothing.

Also – I shared the “Tattle Jar” idea that I saw in another school district with two of the teachers here and one thinks she will try it!

DAY 48 subbing: A good day – two different classes in Northville HS in the morning, and then 2 different 5th grade classes in Livonia in the afternoon. It all went well – a few loudmouths in the high school class, but not too bad.

Northville HS is HUMONGOUS. I parked in the staff lot and after I entered the building I remembered that it’s a good 5 minute walk to the office. I consulted the diagram of the school and hopefully I’ll remember to park in the visitor’s parking instead. The Livonia school was a similar problem – except I had to walk around the building outside in the freezing cold. Live and learn.

I managed to get two half-day jobs for tomorrow in Livonia – nothing for Friday yet – I’m hoping! I’ve got two weeks of “no work” coming up after that.

DAY 49 subbing: 1st half in Middle School in Livonia, 2nd half with 2nd grade in another school in Livonia. It was a good day except for when I messed up.

MS – I ended up just doing two classes and then since the teacher had a prep hour and there was a concert in the cafetorium during the reading period – I went and listened to the Livonia Franklin HS Bel Canto choir – quite good! Then I left early.

ES (elementary school) – The kids had a quiet rest period and they quieted down nicely. I offered to sing to them – the ceiling is vaulted and the acoustics were nice in there. 🙂 So I sang a song I used to sing to my brother Mark Osborne when he was little and then to my children “Autumn to May”. I sang it sweetly and quietly and they all listened without a sound. Then they all broke into applause. 🙂 So I sang them the “Goodnight my little ______” song that I used to sing when I put my kids to bed – which made them all giggle since it ends with tickling and hugging.

The lessons went pretty well – a rather talkative and antsy group but when I moved the main distractors they quit distracting – with 7 year olds, making someone come and sit on the floor near me does a lot of good. Too bad that wouldn’t have worked with 8th grade.

We were running out of time and I made a BIG mistake – I didn’t realize that the kids were supposed to at 3:10 get their backpacks, pack up, clean up, and then put on their coats and go to recess from 3:20-3:50 so that when they come in – they just get their stuff, go to their bus and leave. So I was trying to get them to just get their coats on and go outside, already, because I thought the packup/cleanup was AFTER recess, but the little guys are totally programmed as to what they are supposed to do and I disrupted their ordered world. It ended up being a bit stressful because no one was listening – until I realized my error (after about 5 minutes). Next time I’d better read the instructions more closely.

I was also supposed to keep two girls inside for health reasons and place 6 kids on the sidelines outside because of earlier fighting – but the outside teacher said, no, I should take the 6 kids back inside my room. A little more frustration – dealing with keeping them quiet and still another 20-25 minutes. Enforcing punishment is time consuming and difficult when there are other kids to deal with too.

I kind of wonder about the point of having recess from 3:20 to 3:50 pm also, but I’m sure they have their reasons – I’m pretty sure there were about 4 classes out there.

DAY 50 subbing: it didn’t seem likely that there would be substitute teacher opportunities on this, the last day of school before Christmas break, so – I took an all day parapro position at a Livonia middle school. I was in the Planning Room – which is what in Melvindale is called “In School Suspension.” All day kids came and went and my job was to keep track of them, make them work quietly and not let them talk to one another. Overall, I spent most of the day reading a whole book and briefly talking to kids and staff here and there, sitting in the same room all day. I also got to partake in the staff “Eat-a-thon” as they called it – putting aside my nice chicken salad sandwich for baked chicken, awesome sweet potato casserole with pecan pie topping like Danielle Bratcher and Christine Pagel Bratcher make, and too many desserts.

No more subbing for the next two weeks – have to find some writing work to do!

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