Tuesday, September 23, 2003

What a day. Just like a roller coaster. I was a special ed teacher today, and will be subbing in the same class tomorrow and Thurs. It started off well, as the teacher has a first period prep. Second period was English. The kids were supposed to be working on an autobiography, and today’s topic was their school and favorite/worst teacher. Most of them had no problems. A couple had difficulty focusing, which is typical of this type of student. One girl worried me, as she seemed to be writing as Harry Potter or some other Hogwarts student. She wrote that her least favorite teacher was the one who taught her potions class. I didn’t know if she had delusions and was on meds, or if she was being difficult or just really didn’t understand the point of an AUTObiography. When I shared these thoughts with Tim, he immediately exclaimed cra-zy, and I laughed because that was the first thing that popped in my head before I began to think more logically. But I was really flummoxed by this. Lesson one: pay close attention to every student, even the quiet ones.

The next class was math. Basic math. These students have a difficult time subtracting 25 from 64. The teacher had assigned approximately 120 subtraction problems for them to work on in class. The aide said that was way too many, so we asked them to do the odd ones. Fine. This worked out so well, that in the next math class I said to do the odd numbers on pages such-and-such. It took me a while before I saw that almost none of the students knew what an odd number was, so they were just doing all of them. Or, if I did explain it to one, s/he would go along until number 7, then do 8,9,10,etc. So, the lesson learned here is to assume nothing and explain everything to the whole class.

Then comes in the first II class of the day. (II = individual instruction). Basically, they work on a worksheet designed to help them identify their learning strategy, then they have the rest of the class period to work on homework in their other classes. Sounds easy, but four boys decided to be obnoxious so I separated them. Next came warnings, then I put their names on the board, and put a check after two of the names. That stopped two of them. The other two continued to torment each other, write on each other’s folders, talk back, and to top it off, they didn’t do any work or bring in any writing implements! By now (15 minutes into class) I had had it, so I asked the aide to escort them to the principal’s office. The rest of the class was wonderful, and the other two boys stayed after for 5 minutes during lunch. I figured I had to act quickly, or be eaten alive for the rest of the week. If nothing else, I gained the respect of the aides!

After all this excitement, I had a job interview. It went well, I think. I asked one of my UC instructors to call the principal and talk me up. This is a brand-new position, so I'll be laying the groundwork for this program. I’m very excited! I wouldn’t have a classroom, just a cart o’ science. Imagine me pushing the cart o’ science to over 500 children, enriching their lives with hands-on activities and NO GRADING. I hope I get it!

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