Preschool in near-city district at a different school than the other times.  Tho other school had two near-identical classrooms- the teachers are truly a team there- and the students were English-speaking.  You know where I’m going with this one…  I arrived, and the principal was acting as secretary and signed me in.  Headed to the classroom and what is the first thing I see?  Everything in Spanish.  The one school got the English-speaking kids, this one got the Spanish-speaking ones.   Most did know a little English, and unlike another class I was in in another district, let’s just call it one-school district for the number of schools I was usually called to sub in toward the end of last year which is tied to the reason I didn’t re-sign up with them this year, this time I had an assistant working with me who could speak Spanish, so I didn’t have too much of a problem.  The morning and afternoon were similar in schedule to the other school.  I think they run off the same schedule as pre-k is a special progam in the district.  They had some start-of-day work, calendar time, centers (which included a lot of play centers), song time, wrap-up, and take them outside to the playground to wait for buses.  The morning was actually a little different than the afternoon.  The primary students (K-2) were preparing a musical show for Thursday night and the preschoolers were given their own bit for it by doing three songs of their own.  Two were counting songs (the duck with five chicks and one runs away, leaving four, then three, and so on, and a similar one with frogs jumping in the water- glub, glub!) and the third was a weird version of “Singing in the Rain”.  The other two had some movements the kids were given to do, but this song has them in the song ala “Hokey Pokey:”  thumbs up, shoulders back, knees together, butt out, tongue out…  All given one at a time and added on to the rest so by the end it’s a true video-moment seeing the kids doing all of that.  Those of you with kids might know the song I’m talking about.  They also practiced these songs during the song time.  For morning, the rehearsal took the place of the start-of-day work and caused centers to be shortened. even though we only stayed to do our songs and then left.

Right after calendar was read-aloud time.  In Spanish.  With a tape (whew…)- I only had to hold the book up and turn the pages.  Apparently the title was funny- I just wish I knew why, but I forgot to ask the assistant.  I read Spanish about as well as I speak it.  For my center, they worked on making ducks with construction paper.  The outlines of what to cut out were already drawn for them so they just had to cut them out and glue them on in the right spot.  I added a 3-D element by folding the beak, feet, and wings so they stuck out.  As par for course, there were things glued upside down or lopsided, or even in the wrong place.  Most did fine though.

At the end of the day, they went outside to the playground.  This was the easiest part- just watching them to make sure they didn’t get hurt.  After this, I had to strap in a bunch of students in the bus.  They put their seatbelts on, I had to tighten them.  For about ten kids each in the AM and PM.  One also had additional gear to attach him to the seat which fortunately I had seen before in the mentally impaired classrooms I’ve worked in so I knew what to do with this.

Again, thanks to the help of the assistant I survived the day.  Next up, 5th grade then 8th grade social studies.  Tomorrow.  Three posts is enough for one day, for me at least… 🙂

These kids are smart

Private school is where it’s at these days.  Want proof?  Just check out these pictures I took today (yes, with my cellphone- why, can you tell? 😛 ) in the preschool classroom room at my church (where they have school during the week):  😀

Oh yes, click for larger pics! 🙂



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From teens to tots

As most of you know I generally sub at any grade level I can in the districts I’m signed up for.  That could mean anywhere from K-8, though my most comfortable levels are around 3rd-7th and during the less lean times I stick to them for the most part.  However, these are not those times and I will pretty much take anything that comes up.  8th grade is actually not uncommon at all for me to take even in the best of times, and neither is 2nd- adding one level to each end of my comfort range.  However, pre-kindergarten is pretty rare.  Not just for me to take, but just to be offered since it is not one of the required grades.  Come to think of it, I don’t think kindergarten is required either but it has pretty much become standard since at least the middle of last century to prepare kids for 1st grade.  Now of course many, many families take advantage of preschool, so it is no surprise that school districts are picking up on this age bracket as well.  I’m not sure just what the requirements are to enroll ones child in public preschool but they are probably simple like “must be able to walk” and “must be toilet trained.”  In some districts they actually have to be considered special-needs kids to qualify, so toilet trained is not necessarily required for these kinds of kids- I can attest to this as assistants regularly change kids of all ages, usually behind closed doors but there was one classroom where they changed an 8th-grade-aged boy right in the classroom with very little in the way to prevent seeing those parts usually covered up, not that any of the kids would have cared anyway since they were all similarly impaired.

But back to normal kids.  Monday I was in an 8th-grade science classroom at the very early district meaning an arrival time of 7:15AM- this coming after I had maybe 4-5 hours of sleep.  Fortunately this lack of sleep always hits one the following day as opposed to the current day, and Tuesday was no exception.  The kids had a video to watch about the first 25 years of NASA.  They talked about the start of our aeronautics exploration back in 1915 with the inception of NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) though the birth of NASA itself wasn’t until 1958, and continued with the US response to Sputnik, the trips which eventually landed us on the moon, and remote exploration of the planets.  This was a 60-minute video so I didn’t get to see the whole thing, but I suppose it must have ended talking about the three space shuttles up to that 25-year point in time.  There really isn’t much to say about the classes themselves- they were six identical classes.

Tuesday I found myself at the opposite end of the scale, but only at the end of the day- I started as an ELL resource (pull-out) teacher for 1st-5th grade.  In fact, most of my morning was spend with some kids from the very classroom I subbed in a few weeks ago.  We went over some reading, some letter names and sounds, played some games… Pretty enjoyable.  I then went to Wendy’s (baconator- mmm) to grab some lunch and headed to the other school where I would be in preschool.  This was where my lack of sleep two nights before would catch up to me.  I really did nothing much in these two classrooms (half an afternoon in each of two preschool classrooms as a floater) except act as an extra set of eyes.  I had been in one of the rooms a couple of weeks before during ISAT week and that day they started with putting simple puzzles together but today they would start by doing some coloring.  St. Patrick’s day pages of course, this bing March 17th and all.  There was one little girl who smiled at me with a “you don’t see me doing anything wrong” smile the entire way as she headed to the trash, hands behind her back, to throw away here pages because she messed up coloring the first page.  Uh-huh- nice try.  I fished them out and she had to go back to coloring them.  I guess I did get to do something- I got to read a book about some kids trying to catch a leprechaun for his you-know-what.  I tried to give it a bit o’ an Irish lilt as I read the leprechaun’s lines, and other parts of the story.  During their centers time I had to gulp down the rest of my caffeinated water as apparently the caffeine from the Dr. Pepper I had for lunch was very weak and I was in danger of collapsing on a chair.  But I made it.  They were in their centers for an hour before I went to the other room which then finished up their own centers- both rooms have pretty much the same routine, did some singing and listened to another story (read by someone else in the room regrettably), packed up, and went outside to play until their buses arrived.

So how was today?  Maybe I’ll tell later.  Another LD classroom, self-contained, 5th and 6th grades.

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There’s a guy in the preschool classroom!

People who know me know that my preference for teaching is about 3rd-7th grades. Stretch a year in either direction, and those are pretty much the jobs I gravitate toward when I have a choice. Of course specials are an exception; I do take those no problem though they may include kindergarten or 1st grade. Since you are an observant reader, you will have noticed the words when I have a choice. Well, I was unable to procure an assignment yesterday leaving me at the mercy of what’s available in the morning. First call came in at about 5:40 and was for kindergarten. I thought about it and foolishly chose not to do it. I figured I would take a chance and check the web since I was awake. I did find a couple of half-day jobs which I also skipped. Then came the full-day preschool assignment. I didn’t think I would see anything younger than the one I rejected, but here it was. Being about 5:50 I decided to gamble again and keep hoping for a better assignment to show up. Nope. Oddly enough though, no one was picking up this full-day assignment for some reason. Finally, the system called me for the assignment so I gave in and took it. At least it was a lot closer to me than the kindergarten job. Then I went back to sleep for an hour.

As it turns out, this district as far as I know does not offer normal preschool. It does however offer special education preschool for the “developmentally delayed.” The morning had eight of ten students there, and was actually kind of a breeze. This kind of classroom has teaching assistants (three!), and today the speech teacher actually came in to take over the class! I had absolutely no problem with this as this age is really out of my comfort zone anyway. I just acted as another T.A. The most I did teachingwise was running a center where they matched patterns and did a connect-the-dots worksheet. Other than that it was keeping kids focused and helping as needed.

The afternoon was a little different. There were slightly fewer students (seven), but this was a more challenging group. One was very autistic and needed special attention, and as a whole the group was lower than the morning group and like the one autistic boy, required more attention. The title of this post refers to me, but in actuality one of the part-time T.A.s in the afternoon was a guy! I would guess he really likes kids to do this, because he is a retired principal from the school I was at and retirement packages for top school administrators tend to be very generous. Either that or some bad investments, but his actions during the afternoon clearly showed the former. He was very good with the kids- unlike a T.A. from another school I worked with recently. That T.A. really yelled at the kids, sometimes for very minor things. To be fair, that school was a middle school, but I really felt for those kids. Aside from that she did a pretty good job, doing things for the students she didn’t have to. If not for this I would have thought she was in the wrong profession entirely.

I was somewhat relieved to go home a little early- preschool ends 15 minutes before the regular grades- partly due to the afternoon class and partly due to the relative inactivity of my job. This is one reason, aside from the very low pay, that I would not want to be a teaching assistant full time. The absolute wost times I have had subbing were as teaching assistants, particularly one-one-one assignments. Never again on those, though I would sub (at regular pay) for other types of teaching assistants, like those with multiple kids or general classroom helpers.