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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

There's No Substitute for the Real Thing.

Today seems to be the day for subs. It seems that two out of the four teachers I work with on a daily basis have otherwise been engaged and sadly, the remainder of us has to pay the price. Mainly me. I split my time between working one on one with my guys in my quiet little room and venturing out into their classes to provide help to anyone who needs it. On the days the subs are present, I may as well get their damn pay. I've seen some good subs, it's true, but more often than not HR seemed to have dredged the bottom of some club for the socially inept and mentally unstable to furnish the building with the enormously unsettling number of subs we require.

I walked into science with a spring in my step... A spring that stopped so abruptly, I almost sprained my ankle. I spied BabyFaceSub behind the teacher's desk. Awgoddamit. For having a baby face, the man sure knows how to lose his cool as he's quickly resorts to shouting at the kids. These chaps don't respond well to shouting, so they get even more obnoxious. With the discretion of a waiter in a swank restaurant, I fluttered past each student and quietly whispered as soothingly as I could to them in an attempt to avoid having to later document exactly how they grabbed his head and stuffed it in one of the sinks while one of them turned on the tap. It seemed to work and they got going on their assignment.

Disaster averted, I was able to direct my full attention to the small group of more moderately retarded students in the class. They're an interesting bunch of kids and do damn well considering how uncomfortable they may feel to be in a regular science class when some of them can't spell "water" let alone "heterogeneous mixture". Over time, the other students have grown quite tolerant of their presence, though I often see the hurt in their eyes when they assume they were put in the special class, and not that these kids with special needs are being incorporated into their class. Not often working with kids this low functioning, I'm often at a loss to know what to do if one of them starts to have a rather loud conversation with me about ponies while the rest of the class is quietly taking notes on the nature of wave refractions. I always pray none of them will start laughing, so I tend to respond to them as quickly as possible in the hopes of drowning out any giggles or at least to divert the kid's attention away from them to me. I've decided a quick indulgence and then back to business is the best way to avoid hurt feelings.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand... Subs. Having drained myself in science running around putting out fires (metaphorically speaking, thankfully) and modifying the assignment down for those who needed it, and making sure the kids on my caseload got started because I'll be damned if I'm letting "my" boys and girls hand in shite since he wasn't very effective at getting them to work AT ALL, I was totally unprepared for a sub in English class too. I got there late, having had to run a number of errands first, and walked in to find most of the kids up out of their seats, jostling each other, shouting, listening to mp3 players, making fun of each other with foul language, and obeying the strict order of General Mayhem and his Army of Chaos. I've already worked with this sub before... I had made the mistake of telling a kid to put away her mp3 player only to be given the dreaded: "HE said I could use it" and look over to see him nodding. GAH. This is the same man who brought his X-Box to work and shooed anyone away who came to his door while he was playing. He DEFINES professionalism.

LoudMouthGirl (With The Poorly Spelled Name): Peanut head. I'm sicka you, fag.
PeanutHead: Shucho mouth, Dick Lips.

Dick Lips? I looked at X-BoxSub who was on the far side of the room, just watching them. Fantastic.

TeacherLady: I would appreciate it if you were all to stop chatting so I can help you all with this assignment and not with your personal problems. Thank you.

I physically placed myself between the aforementioned PeanutHead and LoudMouthGirl and waited until they ran out of steam at not being able to see each other, because I wasn't entirely sure they could even hear me when I asked them to stop talking to each other. Within a minute, they were out of ideas and I was able to get them started on the assignment. Heck, it's only 15 minutes into the class, why am I surprised that 90% of the class hasn't even cracked open the book to the right page. I address each student by name, tell them what page to open up to and read the first question to them to get them going. I looked around the room and was satisfied to see that even though they continued to chat, they were all working on the assignment. I came close to pulling out a rapier and slashing a Z onto the white board before departing from the room. He's getting paid to do it, so I wasn't going to hang around all bell doing his damn job for him.

I've just found out a third teacher of the four is leaving so there'll be a sub in math too. I think I'm going to crawl under my desk with a bag of M&Ms and not emerge until this madness ends.


Qwaider قويدر said...

What happens exactly when a teacher gets engaged? Why are you paying the price?

TeacherLady said...

It seems that the subs often mistake my "helping out" for "kindly taking over the class" and so they stand back and do nothing when all I intend to do is act as a support, or at the most, a co-teacher... They just figure that since I know the kids better and have already developed a rapport with them that they can just leave it to me ENTIRELY. If they want that, then I should get their pay for that period!
I'm in these classes every other day, so I always want to lend a hand given my experience, but not do their job for them!

What is supposed to happen is that they get assigned to a room (preferably one that they've subbed in before or have taught the same kids in another subject) and a plan is supposed to be left behind for them by the teacher of that class. Often, they don't understand the material and I end up having to teach it anyway if I happen to be in the room at the time.