No sleeping in for me

Whenever I have had a subbing day this year it has almost always been a result of getting up early and hitting the web. Last night I was able to secure a job in 6th grade a little after 10 which didn’t have a start time until almost 8:30, meaning I could sleep in, at least a little bit. Okay, knowing about the snow meant I should be up about 20 minutes earlier to get shoveling out of the way. Still, I could get up about an hour later than usual. Of course you know something was bound to happen, and happen it did at about 4AM. That’s when I was jarred out of my sleep by what I thought then was the neighbors slamming the door. It took me about a half hour to get back to sleep. I was worried because it didn’t sound like a door slamming, but what else could it be.  Well, eventually I did get up at about 6:45 and didn’t worry about it all day.  Unfortunately it wasn’t quite early enough as there was more snow than I would have hoped waiting to be shoveled, making me a little bit late.  At least I still arrived before the kids.

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Yesterday I subbed for music at one of hometown district’s middle schools- I actually got a call for it about five minutes before the alarm was set to go off.  Very uneventful.  We watched videos in all classes.  At least I got to see Blue Man Group, a group I had never heard before though I of course knew about them.  Other class videos included Stomp and The Wizard of Oz.  Today I was excited because I was subbing in an elementary school, and what that usually means is getting to teach instead of just babysit.  Well, not so much.  The plans didn’t include videos, but they did include a test, lots of reading and working on their own, and skit performances for social studies, in which they are studying Greek Mythology- a topic I really enjoyed myself when I was in 6th grade.  Well, there was a spelling game too, and at least that was interactive.  I also worked in a short math review not on the plans before they started working on their assignment, and at least one other subject, vocabulary, was more interactive as well.  Additionally, I worked in some word puzzles which I like to do in elementary classes.  Definitely a more productive day for me than yesterday, overall.

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So back to what woke me up.  On one of the forums I read someone who I know lives around here made a post humorously telling California to keep the earthquakes to themselves.  Say what?  I read his post then had to go to my newspaper website to see just what he was talking about.  Sure enough, there was a 3.5 magnitude earthquake a short distance from us.  An earthquake.  In Illinois.  At 3:59AM.  That’s right, not a slamming door.  Well, I guess if our tornadoes can be exported to other areas, I shouldn’t be surprised when earthquakes are imported to our relatively-geologically-stable part of the country.  Here’s a link to the story (click the title), and a short excerpt:

Small earthquake wakes up northern Illinois

To some, it sounded like a train derailing, a snowplow taking out a car, a plane crash, a sonic boom.

To dogs, it was clearly something to panic about.

But the U.S. Geological Survey said what woke people well before dawn Wednesday was a mild, 3.8 magnitude earthquake whose epicenter was about three miles beneath a farm field a short distance south of Pingree Grove, near Route 20 and Switzer Road in western Kane County.

It started rumbling at 3:59 a.m. Wednesday and lasted just seven seconds.

From kids to kars.. er, cars

It looks like this may truly be the end for the summer, but it is also a beginning.  I was able to secure jobs for the last three days.  I even had a job for this morning, but I canceled it when I was still awake at midnight and it required an earlier start.  I stupidly took a nap yesterday afternoon so that affected my being able to get to sleep.  Monday was an extension of Friday as it was a two-day assignment.  It was a light-duty assignment since it was an assistant position.  I was pleasantly surprised though to find the assistant I subbed for had a paid lunch-duty assignment, so the lower-paying assistant assignment was offset a little by this.  Too bad my Wednesday assistant assignment didn’t have such a thing.  It’s the end of the year though, so I take what I can get.  The two assistant assignments differed somewhat in that the first was there for a group of five kids (four actually since one has been out of school for the last couple of months) while Wednesday my attention was focused on just one boy with autism.  For the first I was on hand for the rest of the class as needed, which wasn’t much being the end of the year, and for the second I stayed around this one boy, but did help his neighbor too who needed it at times.  Across from him was another boy with albinism- the second I met this year.  As seems to be standard with this condition, he had vision problems which required extra-large textbooks and he had to wear sunglasses and a hat outside.  There really wasn’t a lot of academic work being done on these last few days as the grades had already been turned in.  There was a lot of cleaning and turning in books and extended recess times.  There was a lot of letter writing in one of the classes (imagine writing a letter- at least half a page each- to every student in the class.  They were doing only five a day, but still very monotonous.  They also did math speed drills, practicing the times tables.  I also did a lot of copying.  Well, at least I was paid.  It was also a rest in a way which is perfect for this time of year.  Tuesday was completely different.  You already know about the fire, but aside from that it was a very normal teaching day with math, reading, and so on.  I didn’t do much teaching though- a lot of facilitating.  Get them started on something, and off they go as I walk around keeping them on task.  I saw one of my now-former weekend kids, but only for math.  The teacher I subbed for did advanced math.

As I write this I am still trying to secure a job for tomorrow, but I won’t be surprised if nothing turns up.  One district is already out of the running.  Monday however, I start on something new.  I will be training to take pictures of cars for ads.  Actually, I think I mentioned this in another blog post so I won’t repeat it, but now I have signed the contract and have an official starting date.  He is even allowing me to do my usual week at camp, which is coming up in less than three weeks.  Training can last three weeks to three months depending on how quickly I learn the ropes.  This should become my priority over subbing, but I will probably still do maybe one day a week, more in winter if there are less cars to do.  I will see.

Seen but not heard

That’s how the saying goes, only it’s talking about children while I’m talking about me.  Welcome to my journey in a deaf and hard-of-hearing classroom.  I always like to joke about how I am monolingual, speak only one language, but even with others from another country, when I talk to them they can usually understand me at least a little.  The problem with subbing in this sort of classroom, I know extremely little sign language.  At least in Spanish, I can tell them I don’t speak Spanish in, er, Spanish (“No hablo español).  Without a translator I am hopeless in a deaf classroom.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve been in one of these rooms.  In fact, I subbed for this same teacher once last year so I knew what to expect.  I arrived there and first thing I noticed was there were no plans.  Sub plans that is- she did have the plans she expected to teach herself.  For the most part, these plans worked out fine.  For two hours in the morning the kids worked on packets called “News-2-You.”  Another teacher in the room for the morning actually taught that.  What did I do in the meantime?  I cut out word cards and laminated book pages, and put together number cards.  They would have had me make copies too, but the machine was taken over by the PTA for the morning.  I did get to teach one lesson though, aided in part by an assistant who was none too happy about being sucked into a translator role.  She was replaced by one much less cold to me about 10-minutes into the lesson (she had to be somewhere else).  I taught the math lesson.  It was an… interesting… experience.  The students were at a lower level than I expected them to be, and I had to skip parts of the lesson and adjust.  Yes, be a real teacher for the hour. 8)

The afternoon was far different from the morning, but I was about as useful.  For most of the afternoon I was in other classrooms acting as the third wheel a teaching assistant for the classes.  I couldn’t help the deaf students mainstreamed in the classes- that was left to an assistant who could sign.  I just walked around, made sure students were working, and in rare instances helped a student or two.  There was a small portion of the afternoon where I was scheduled to teach.  However, when the time rolled around it was myself and the two 6th grade kids (there were two each of 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade kids in her room).  No translator.  Well, scratch teaching.  The cold assistant came in and set them to read for the half hour and then left again.  About 5-minutes later a translator came in, sent by one of the assistants or a teacher as she said she normally wasn’t in the room.  Lesson time?  Nope.  I didn’t have the materials for the lesson, so they continued reading before going off to speech at 2:30, leaving me to act as an assistant again in the 4th grade room where the two 4th-graders were mainstreamed for the afternoon.

All-in-all it was an easy, unexciting day.  Compared to my time in this room last year, it went great.  I remember some dramatic moments, one where a student swore at me in sign language- not that effective since I didn’t understand and he was seen by the teaching assistant, but strange just the same.  I also saw one of my weekend kids in the hall.  When I call him up this week- I’m calling all of my two small groups to remind them of rewards week- I’m sure he’ll want to talk about it.

The little ones

Last week when looking for jobs, an assignment for this week came up and I jumped on it even though it’s an age group I normally don’t work with outside of specials like gym or music, or potluck (floater) assignments.  However, it was a two-day assignment so I figured why not after all the middle school assignments I’ve had lately.  It was first grade.  It actually turned out not so bad.  One of the reasons I tend to stay with older kids is the type of management younger ones require.  It’s not just teaching with them, but mediator, parent, shoe-tyer, and other roles.  Well, I didn’t have to tie any shoes this time around in any event.  The first day had a slow start.  After taking attendance, bilingual kids (some Hispanic, many Indian) would leave ordinarily, a good third of the class, but this time only a few left while a teaching assistant came in to help with the rest.  Teaching assistants- always good to have.  They are a familiar face to the kids when there is an unfamiliar face like mine there- young kids love consistency.  The slow part was when we did calendar.  The lesson plans, generally well-detailed, was not so with the calendar time.  They pretty much just said the kids would help me.  The thing about that is younger kids always want to help, so as expected I had at least half a dozen little ones all trying to show me what to do.  Once the chaos was sorted out, I flipped through the cards they gave me and let each child do one of the dozen calendar activities until we made it all the way through.  We started the next activity, reading, about 15 minutes late.  I had to skip independent reading, but we eventually got back on track.

So the morning went- reading, stations (centers), some writing, and then the Spanish teacher came in for his lesson before lunch.  During centers, there were a couple of students who were at the computer center.  Unfortunately in this district there is no general log-in, and the teacher didn’t log in for me beforehand or leave me the password, so- no computer center.  They got to read instead.  Once the Spanish teacher came, it was a little break for me, but I stayed in the room anyway.

Following lunch the kids always spend five minutes quietly listening to music to settle down from recess.  Then the “star student” talked about her family, showing some photos.  I presume all the children get to do this throughout the year.  Once she was done, it was gym time, then music.  Another break- yes!  As asked in the plans, I graded homework while they were away.  The final part of the day was math.  I had two teaching assistants this time helping out, so it went well.  They learned about fact families for addition and subtraction.  Well, most of them learned.  I found out on day two, a rarity since most assignments are one day, when grading their homework that five or so did not in fact understand.  Well, I tried.  Finally, at 2:30 they were dismissed, I straigtened up, and left a note.

The next day was mostly the same, except no Spanish, art instead of PE and music, and dismissal was 3:00 (Wednesdays are early days in this district for teacher meetings- why they don’t just have the teachers stay a half-hour later one day I don’t know; I guess it works for them [and for me 🙂 ]).  The math lesson was more fun though- candy heart math in the spirit of upcoming Valentine’s Day.  They of course got to keep the candy hearts to take home afterward.

I should probably note that the biggest issue was one boy in particular.  He was one of the ELL kids, and he was all over the place- so much so that one of the counselors came in and marked off an area for him that he had to stay in.  I wonder what the teacher thought of it when she came in today?  Fortunately, her class uses a behavior plan where the kids have to change cards if their behavior is unacceptable.  They start on green and get two warnings, yellow and orange, before landing on red which means trouble.  For the one student, it meant a note home to his parents.  I’m not sure if it’s the same for the rest of the class, but whether it is or not as I said it means trouble for the student.  Only that one ended up on red one of the days, but several more wound up on yellow or orange.  The Spanish teacher was most unhappy about the class today- something about “worst day in five months…”

Well, in any event I survived the two days in first grade.  Next up: Friday’s ELL.  No silent h before that this time, but I do have things to say next post.

Teaching poll (part 1)

I’m just looking to see what sort of age groups you might be interested in teaching if you ever decided to teach.  Feel free to choose more than one.  You will note that there is some overlap in grades since not everyone defines the categories the same way.  For example, in some places middle school is 6-8, other places 7-8, and still others 7-9.  I am told there are even places where 5th is considered middle school, but I am yet to be convinced that is actually middle school or combining disparate grades in a building due to space or some other special reason (sorry, L).  I do know a district that has a school for just 5th and 6th grades due to a gang problem.  This district considers 6th to be middle school, so the 5th grade were on an elementary program while the 6th grade switched classes as they would in a regular middle school.  I am almost certain that 5th grade will always be on an elementary program even if inside a middle school, but please comment if I am wrong about this (please, even if you don’t normally comment on my blog 🙂 ).  So anyway, vote away!  Later, I’ll ask about favorite subjects to teach, whatever the age group.

If you were to ever teach, what age group(s) would it be?

View Results

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Has it really been that long?

Well, it’s been awhile since my last work-related post.  I finally got season 4 of The Office from my library and have been watching it.  For those who don’t remember back that far 😛 , Ryan, who was the temp at the Scranton, PA office is now Michael’s boss, and is trying to make many changes to the company to bring it more up to date with the times.  Oh, and he is making Michael’s life miserable.  I watched the first five episodes so far, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the first few were 40+ minutes.  I thought at first these were two-part episodes combined into one, but apparently they are actually extended versions of the original episodes.  There are supposed to be five of them out of the fourteen episodes on the DVD set and I saw four of them.  The fifth episode was the normal 20+ minute length.  I am guessing the season finale will be the fifth extended episode.

Anyway, on to work.  Today was a difficult day with a pleasant ending.  I substituted for 3rd-grade ELL at the school that made the local paper a few months ago for its supersized 3rd grade classes with 30+ students per class.  As far as that went, I prepared myself for it.  It turned out to have 24 students- 23 after today as it was one student’s last day.  For some reason that student is transferring to another school in the same district.  To any who didn’t catch it, this was an ELL class, which I’m guessing is why the class was a normal size.  I bring up ELL because while I prepared myself for a supersized class, I forgot to prepare myself for ELL kids.  Fortunately most of them understood English to a point, and there was an assistant who spent most of the day in the class to translate when there were difficulties in understanding.  However, the behavior in a few of the kids was just off the wall.  As I have mentioned in the past, ELL kids can be challenging when it comes to behavior, and these kids were no exception.  Again, I think this is due to us being to soft in this country as compared to other countries like Mexico.  And I especially am more easygoing than other teachers.  I would like to think I have gained better management habits, but I know I am still kind of a soft teacher, at least when I am in a good mood.

In the end, I did make sure to point out the kids I had a problem with in the note to the teacher, so something will happen I’m sure.  So what was the pleasant end?  Well, a 4th-grader from my church is apparently a student at that school.  As I was lining up the kids for dismissal, he spotted me.  A few years ago I had a student who showed some major excitement when he recognized me when I subbed in his class, with a very excited, “Hey! I know you!!”  Well, that boy’s record for excitement was just broken today by this other boy.   He shouted to everyone who could hear, “Hey, you go to my church!!” which was repeated a few times, once to his teacher.  When I failed to come up with his name right away, he happily offered it, not disappointed at all like a few others I have run into.  I should remind you that I am not that great with names at all and this year I lead a fifth-grade small group so he isn’t in it.  Tomorrow night I will make sure to give him some extra attention.

This week I was was in middle school only one, which was just an okay day in Spanish, with two 8th grade, two 7th grade, one 6th grade, and a 7th/8th combined class (which I thought kind of strange for a Spanish class).  The other days were strictly elementary.  The music class was a highlight of my week.  Normally these can be difficult classes behaviorally, but it was a rather pleasant day.  The teacher left plans that were clearly meant for the Friday before break with some of the classes having a Christmas-y theme, but since that turned into a snow day she apparently thought it would be just fine for the day after break.  Three of the classes watched part of the Nutcracker while coloring Nutcracker pictures.  It was in one of these classes I ran into a rare occurance- an Albino.  Okay, that term was politically incorrect.  I guess I should say he was albinistic.  I joked with him having hair blonder than mine was at his age (I had very light blond hair once- it has since become almost gray.  Yes I have some grey hairs now, but most of it is still blond when looked at closely.  It was pointed out to me that he had a vision problem which is often an effect of the condition and when I looked at his eyes a certain way I noticed some red which I think may also be common, though seeing red in pupils apparently is not.

Well, time to head back to Scranton, PA- I only have a week on this DVD set.  Later!

EDIT: Whoops, forgot the title!

Welcome to Starbucks, may I take your order?

Starbucks

Massage the teacher = bad.  Just remember that, m’kay?  In reference to a previous post we learned that while paper passer, messenger, and librarian are good jobs for teachers to give their students, massaging the teacher doesn’t quite fly.  However, apparently not all service jobs are a problem.  From the title I think you can guess what unusual job I ran across today.  Coffee.  That is, making and serving coffee to several teachers in the school.  That’s right, this teacher is training her students up for the type of job they can only hope to achieve should the economy not pick back up.  Another 733 points today- sigh.  There’s more to this story though.  Apparently today was something like clothes mismatch day.  Some students traded a shoe to have mismatched shoes.  One boy had a sandal on one foot, a gym shoe on the other.  Other students turned shirts inside out or wore them backwards.  It was quite funny to see hoodies with the hood in front, like they were made for people who get carsick… 😮

So one student was wearing an apron.  A forest green apron.  I walked up to him in the morning and joked with him, “could I have a grande latte, please?”  I had noticed the coffee job by this time by the way, so it wasn’t coincidence much like I would like to say it was.  There were two girls assigned to this.  As a non-coffee drinker I don’t have much experience making coffee and I guess they didn’t either as we tried to set the older-type coffee maker up.  Guess who did know what he was doing and came over to help?  Mr. forest green apron of course.  That was the coincidence and what I found funny.  I left it to him and the girls and started with the lesson.

Let me tell you that this had to have been the noisiest group I ever worked with.  Sixth grade and social.  This sort of group should have been in a middle school still trying to learn the new system back at the bottom of the food-chain.  Some people disagree and say that sixth graders in elementary school is better for them.  I was in a sixth grade middle school class myself, so I guess it’s just what I’m used to.  When I first got there today I found out they had a sub yesterday.  I read some of the notes she left about their behavior.  Great…  It could have been worse though.  There is bad behavior and annoying behavior, and chatty behavior falls into the latter category.  The ELL class I mentioned several posts ago would be the bad behavior, as would some of the BD classes I have subbed for.  Talking I didn’t mind so much, except when I or someone I have called on is trying to talk of course.  They turned out to be good kids, just chatty.

And I will be with this class again tomorrow (a two-day assignment, yay!), so more on this in another post.