Wednesday, September 17, 2003

First of all, we all must give full props to elementary school teachers!

Boy, what a day. I got a phone call from the district this morning at 7.15 asking me to sub today. bleh! I had just woken up to pee, so wasn't mentally prepared to teach. But, I needed the money, so I agreed, and they gave me the name of the school and said to be there before 8.00. Just enough time to wash my face, brush my teeth, clothe myself and eat breakfast. No shower and no time for coffee.

Like a good girl, I get there at 7.55. I go to the office and announce myself and my purpose. Of course, the admin assts have no idea who needed a sub, or that I was coming. They tried to call the district to no avail, as they weren't picking up. I ended up sitting in the office for 25 minutes. Eventually they apologize and let me go. Alright, I think, I'll just workout and do some errands today. I get in my car and back out of my spot, only to see one of the admin assts run out saying, "Wait! we have a spot for you!" So, still willing to make a buck, I re-park and re-enter the office. They tell me to go to such-and-such's kindergarten class until 11.55, then do 1st grade in the afternoon. And leave me hanging! I have never been there, on top of which the school has some construction going on so there are fences and equipment and dirt everywhere, and I have no idea where to go. Worse, the bell rang already and class has been in session for 10min by the time I get there. What the heck!?

I'm trying to be patient and understanding, but feel very offended by their apparent lack of organization and communication. I mean, I could have read the lesson plan, talked to the teacher, and prepared myself for a day with the kiddies instead of sitting on my ass in the office.

I finally get to the room, teacher is still there. I piece together that she isn't absent, she (and most of the other teachers) has to give her students the CELDT test, and I'm just there to make sure that the kids stay out of her way. (Don't get me started on standardized testing). In a nutshell, she is testing their English fluency. I know how much teachers really love administering standardized tests (smell the sarcasm), so I forgive the school for not knowing what to do with me.

I spend 3 hours with these kids. I just realized that that was it. Only 3 hours, but it felt longer! What a discombulated mish-mash of disjointed stuff! We sang the Good Morning song, sang other songs, were introduced to the number 7 and to triangles. Then we made a triangle book which was just coloring and gluing triangular items. The teacher had to join me here. I heard her admonishing a student for only using one color of crayon, and insisted he use another color. Then we worked on a shape review sheet (ie: more cutting and gluing) and had snack/recess. What a gyp! They don't provide snacks like when I was in K. If they wanted snack, they had to bring their own. It was our turn on the bikes, whatever that meant, because everyone was using the bikes. They were the most industrial-looking tricycles I had ever seen! What IronMan would give his son! I mean, I certainly know why they were built this way, especially after watching the kids run into each other, bless their little uncoordinated hearts.

Recess was supposed to be only 15min, but I left the house without my watch, so we were there for about 30min. In the meantime, other adults were asking me about using the bikes and "When is recess over?" As if I know what the hell I'm doing. I guess I should be impressed that the other subs thought I was in charge, because I clearly did not feel that way! Anyway, we finally got back to class for more songs about the alphabet and "Down By the Bay" .Then we learned about the letter Dd and did a worksheet, so, you guessed it, more coloring. Luckily, it was freetime afterwards, and then home. The teacher said she could take if from there and let me go early to eat lunch.

The lunchroom wasn't much better. I ended up eating with a couple of other subs telling me their woes (one had just survived breast cancer) and how terrible such-and-such district was, so don't bother with them. And, the soda machine ate some of my money! At 12.15 it was back in the office for my afternoon assignment, and, wouldn't you know it, the woman who knew of my existence at that school was out to lunch and no one else knew where I was to go. For a moment, things were looking brighter because someone thought to give her a call on her cell, only to discover that she didn't know which room I was assigned to. Finally, they all decided just to send me to the first grade wing and ask each teacher myself until I found the class. By the time I found the right teacher, class was in session, and the teacher thought I would be someone else, so hadn't written down the afternoon's agenda.

Eventually got that taken care of and a room full of first graders to myself for what ended up being the longest 2 hours of my life. My 90minute classes last year flew by compared to today. At least there was no singing. I read them 3 books which lasted 40 minutes, then we were supposed to go outside for P.E., but there was an accident on the playground. The fire department, administrators, and an ambulance were all there. As you could imagine, the kids were all stirred up about this and wondered why that meant we had to stay inside. This lead to a discussion about firefighters and what they do, the difference between a fire truck, a police car, and an ambulance, and some stories of grandparents going to the hospital. Then I let them all go to the window for a nice, long look.

After gawking, I led them back to the front of the room to do their "story math" (word problem). This took another 40 minutes to do. We had to read the problem, figure out if it was addition or subtraction, answer the question, and copy it into their Math Journals. Only 3 kids finished. I was finished before they were, so I took them outside for the last 30min of class. We played Red Light/Green Light (too much arguing) and then I just let them race each other. I chose a real long course which tired them out. In retrospect, I should have done that first.

In the end, the kids were dismissed 10minutes later than usual. The teacher took over the very end routine (thankfully), and we chatted a bit.

After hearing about my day, Tim asked, "So, were they cute?" I really had to think about it. I'm still not sure.

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