Saturday, March 31, 2007

This week in teaching

This was an unusual week for me, since I accepted a weeklong job at a junior high teaching English. I took it mainly because it was a whole week, and the message said it would be easy. No kidding! First off, this teacher is only .8 FTE, so I only had four classes a day instead of the usual five. I didn't have to, but I went ahead and showed up at the usual time anyway each day, just to give me some time before school to get ready, and to have a little down time in case they needed me to fill in somewhere. But that gave me plenty of time to catch up with some reading as well. Furthermore, a lot of the students were out on various days this week due to nature camp for the first three days, and various field trips.

It was an interesting mix of classes. The first class was writing a persuasive essay about skate parks, and whether one should or should not be built in a hypothetical community. We had an interesting discussion on Monday about it, determining the pros and cons of a park. Surprisingly, a lot of them seemed to be leaning against a park. Well, I collected them yesterday, and haven't had a chance to read them, and I doubt I will now. But they were a good bunch who knew what they were doing. The next two classes were advanced learners — at least, the students I had. One of them was particularly hard hit by campers, and I think I only saw three of those students all five days that week. That class had a few others, however, as a social studies teacher at camp sent his students to me with an assignment. Needless to say, I was juggling a few more balls than usual those days, but it went well. The few students I had had a couple of stories to read and answer questions about in their literature book, but once everyone was back, I just had to turn it over to the students to use as a study hall. Good thing, as it seems the math teachers didn't let up at all, and the ones who had been gone were grateful for the extra time to catch up on their math. Then in my last class, they spent the whole week working on a series of projects related to The Outsiders. For some reason, even though they all had a number of ideas to choose from, they all started off by putting together a collage...

I did have one other class this week. The band teacher was out on Wednesday, and no sub was found, so I got to cover his strings class for one period. I knew there was a good reason why I usually don't take band and orchestra classes, as the class was so big, and everyone was so intent on getting their instuments and warming up that it took me a while just to get them in their seats and quiet so I could take roll. After that, however, it got better, as I let students take turns conducting, and they picked some favorite pieces to play. (It did confirm my idea that, if I had my life to live over again, I'd learn to play the cello — after the crying and screaming at having to go through my life again, of course.)

One bit of disappointment this week. I was asked to talk to a junior high math teacher about taking over his classes for the rest of the year, but becasue of the tutoring job and incompatible schedules, I wasn't able to even talk to him before he picked someone else to take it on. Poop.

Most districts around here seem to be taking next week off for spring break, but not the local district I work in the most — and that pays a little better — so I'm going to work this coming week, but then the week after that I'm mostly going to take off. The exception? I've already signed up for a half day job, to make up for the half day I'm taking off Monday. A science teacher I've subbed for quite a bit asked for me for just the afternoon. I almost turned it down, then realized that having time to recover from this weekend's big Emerald City Comic Convention would be a good thing. My wife is there both days, today and tomorrow, but she's going with her sister today, then I'll go tomorrow. Anyway, to get back to spring break, I plan to spend most of the week filling out applications. I just hope I'm not too late already.

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