A middle school week

(Big Nate ©Lincoln Peirce)

This past week I could be found in a middle school every day.  In fact, I was in one school for three days for two teachers.  I started the week in near-city district at the school that was closed for a few days a couple of weeks ago due to swine H1N1 flu.  Yes, I’m still fine, thanks for wondering 😉 ..  The class was IT, though in actuality he only had four classes (I believe I mentioned before that at this school 6th grade doesn’t take this class).  To make up for it, he had a tutorial, something usually only the core teachers have, and lunch detention.  It is my understanding that under normal circumstances lunch detention has only ten or less students.  Monday had 23 😯 ..  Most didn’t have passes though as was supposedly required.  Huh.  So as typical in this class which doesn’t have an assistant like in hometown district, students didn’t work on IT projects.  Instead, students had to read a packet then do three worksheets based on it.  Yeah, kind of a blah day for the kids.  The packet only covered about half the chapter that the worksheets had questions on I discovered later in the day.  So naturally I informed the students of this… hey, are you kidding??  Like they needed an excuse to be lazy and not do it.  “Hey, I didn’t find the answer in two seconds so it must be in the half I didn’t get to read so I’ll just skip the question.”  My lips were sealed about this little discovery 😈 ..

Tuesday and Wednesday I subbed for sixth-grade math.  Not that I taught any, nope.  Still in near-city district, I was at their other middle school and the teacher left plans just having students work on problems out of their books.  This is the sort of assignment in which one hears about subs falling asleep…  They were generally well-behaved, at least in my book.  The resource teacher however, who came in for a couple of periods, didn’t think so as she was very…not friendly.  My highlights were going over the warmups (not listed in the plans, but I did it anyway just to have something to do) in each of the math classes, but for her one social studies class I just suffered in silence as I babysat.

Thursday I was in hometown district, so I didn’t have to drive as far.  This time I was with 7th grade language arts.  They had a spelling test, afterwhich they worked on a persuasive writing packet for the rest of the time.  You may be thinking, “Spelling test? But it’s only Thursday!”  Well yes, but this district had an institute day Friday making it a four-day weekend instead of three (Memorial Day ya know).  Near-city district on the other hand was supposed to have a four-day weekend, though Tuesday instead of Friday being the off day, however for them Tuesday was a buffer day that got changed due to the winter’s snow days.

Speaking of near-city district, as you already surmised from my opening paragraph I was back at Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s schools as a 6th grade resource teacher.  No, not that one, but the one for the other team.  I’ll tell you, her first period was very busy.  Do this, then this, then this, then this…  Fortunately she gave me time constraints, otherwise it would have turned into a do this, then this, then leave a note on how we ran out of time for the rest period.  Out of the rest of the day, team teaching with another teacher followed by a tutorial period, two of the periods were quite interesting as there were two subs in the room- a lot of teachers were out- could Memorial weekend have anything to it I wonder..? Come to think of it, there were a lot out on Thursday too in hometown district…  Anyway, there was a little more restlessness in these students than the ones earlier in the week which I fully understand since it was a holiday weekend coming up after all.

So that was my week at work.  I do hope I get a chance to fill this week, all four days of school, but I suspect I won’t have four full days.

Oh, the irony

Last weekend I picked up a job in hometown district for first grade.  In fact, it was the school nearest my home.  Later, a job in supersized district appears for a resource teacher (they call it by a different name, but that’s what the job is- for those students who need the extra boost).  It was of course much further so why would I want to change over to this one?  Yet, for some reason I did.  Probably because I hadn’t worked in that district for a month thanks to them canceling most of the jobs I’ve taken in recent days.  Yes, the expected one included.  That actually lasted an entire week believe it or not.  I guess no one bothered to check and see that a mere 90-day (noncertified) sub had their three-week assignment.  We’re the ones who get the unwanted/last minute scraps at the table.  Did you know 120-day (certified) subs in this state can work more than 120 days?  They have to get a waiver from the state to do it, but for some reason they get it.  There was one year the state said no, but with some finagling they managed to get it back for the next year.  For the end of that one year, jobs were easier for me to come by.  So back to the story, I did change the job.  1st grade is a little below my comfort zone anyway, as I have mentioned.  So Monday I arrived and guess what?  They told me I was needed in first grade at the start of the day because another sub was going to be late!  Sigh.  It happened to take away my only break that day outside of a 45-minute lunch (the teacher didn’t have any students for nearly the first hour, after that it was one group of students to the next.  Actually, they offered to let me stay in first grade and bump the other sub to my assignment.  After having worked in this class for the last hour I thanked them for the offer but moved on.  And, the other teacher worked with older kids.

The first grade irony continued on Wednesday.  I subbed for elementary PE where we played hockey tag all day, a combination of the two games in the name.   The “it” players are armed with hockey sticks and they try to hit other players with yarn balls.  Depending on the rules the players hit could be out or become “it” as the stick is handed over.  The morning was all 4th-6th grades, most of whom knew what they were doing.  The afternoon had four groups, one 4th grade, one 2nd grade, and two 1st grade.  So, back to first grade for another hour 😉  Not only that, but one of the classes, probably the roughest group all day, was a class I had subbed in for a couple of days last year.  Several older students had asked if they could help me during their lunch, and this was the class they would have helped with had I said yes.  I should have said yes.  Oh, well.

In case you’re wondering, Tuesday was pretty much a repeat of IT in hometown district, same school as last week.  The 6th graders were working on house floor plans instead of enlarging cartoons, and the 7th and 8th graders were still doing modules like last time.  Nothing much to say.


Monday: Industrial technology in hometown district.

In near-city district, only 7th and 8th grade take this class- I think this year the teacher at one of these schools only teaches for four periods.  What does he do with the rest of the day?  In hometown district all three middle-school grades take this class.  The other two districts I’m in don’t have 6th graders in junior high (they don’t call it middle school) so…

Anyway, I arrived at about 7:30 and headed across the hall from the office into the IT room.  Dropped my stuff and looked for the plans.  Dug around a bit on the front table- there were the seating charts, buried, but no plans.  Hmm.  Open his office door, looked, no plans.  Right then.  Fortunately I knew he had an assistant so I shrugged it off for the moment, though last time I subbed here the assistant was gone too so we watched videos all day.  In other words, there was still a chance everything could go wrong.  Ah, there she was walking in, and sure enough she knew what we were doing.  Because she was there, the students would work on their projects or modules.  For 6th grade, their work was enlarging drawings of cartoon characters by using a grid, which they had to draw themselves on the large sheet of paper.  Tweety Bird, Marvin the Martian, Woody Woodpecker, Dumbo, Pink Panther, and more could be seen all around the tables.  Students had to carefully draw the character making sure every line was in the correct grid box.  It was interesting tho see the different ways students accomplished this.  Most outlined then filled in the details starting at random spots, but there were a few who worked from top to bottom, filling in everything for one row before moving to the next.  Several I couldn’t tell as they were far enough along that they were going over it in marker or even coloring.  I was called on to do spot checks when students felt they were ready, so I had to compare their drawings with the originals and let them know if I saw something that wasn’t right.  The second period of this I actually had a line at one point waiting to be checked.  As it turns out, 6th grade hands for the most part still aren’t attuned to finer writing as most looked no better than I with my poor fine motor control could draw, but there were definitely a few exceptional ones and I said so.

7th and 8th grades were on modules.  That meant that pairs of them were in different areas doing different things like building roller coasters and other objects with K’Nex; working on computers on audio engineering, electricity & magnetism, and more; working with woods or plastics; and a number of other things.  This time my job generally worked like this- I would see a help light on, go over to see if I could help, then ask the assistant when I couldn’t answer the question.  Seriously, I last worked with plastics and woods when I was in high school or lower, and I just didn’t have experience with the software they use.  I think out of a couple dozen help calls throughout the day, there were maybe three I didn’t have to refer to the assistant- not that I should really call her that because today I was the assistant and not a very good one due to lack of experience.

During the middle of the day the regular teacher came in with several people from administration.  Apparently he was trying to get the computers updated as they were about seven years old- a difficult proposition for this economic climate.  I wish them well in this.  Following the last class chess club came in, but I had no part in that so I bid them farewell.

On to Tuesday…