Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In the Beginning...

I'm done subbing for the year. Turns out my old job called and needs me to come in for the next couple of weeks (which is fine with me because I love that job and it's a lot more peaceful than subbing, let me tell you).

But fear not, my loyal readers, for I am still prepared to dazzle you with anecdotes involving all manners of darling, disobedient, and downright terribly-behaved children. From here on (til fall) I will be backlogging the tumultuous 4 months that I subbed before starting this blog.

Let's talk about my first assignment ever. It was the first day back at school after the kids' winter break. I woke up to the frigid cold darkness of 5:30 on a Monday, and out of nervousness took the first elementary general assignment (third grade) I could find. It was at a school that we'll call...M. Manson Elementary. I had been warned about this school from teacher friends of mine, and let's face it, it's a small area, everyone in this city basically knows which infamous schools to stay the h--- away from. But in my half-awake nervousness, I accepted the assignment and got ready.

The school is an inner-city school, old, run-down, in an area not lacking in boarded up windows and bars across doorways. The office secretary seemed to have more on her mind to worry about than a terrified sub's first day at work. I located my classroom and read the plans--and to my chagrin discovered that I had unwittingly accepted not a one-day babysit-and-get-the-heck-out assignment, but a three-day you-will-actually-have-to-teach-these-kids-and-be-productive assignment.

Well I certainly did plunge into this whole substitute teaching thing head-first, didn't I? I thought to myself.

The next three days can be condensed into this much:
running, howling, fighting, pencil-stealing, video-game-playing, yelling, crying, destruction, chaos, confusion, rage, frustration, laughing, boredom, disobedience, hitting, pushing, kicking, peacing out during lessons, insanity.

The greatest thing about the underpriveledged schools is that there is a near-constant stream of "intervention" teachers pulling and returning students to/from class, creating a whole new level of confusion for both substitute and student when the student returns and has no idea what is going on. Usually I was able to teach a lesson to a group of about 4 kids at a time who were actually trying to learn; the rest basically ran around the room like hyenas.

My favorite moment was when I lost my temper on the third day and yelled at the top of my lungs at them (no worries about neighboring classrooms--I heard my colleagues do it on an hourly basis. I don't know how teachers in these schools keep their voices for any length of time; mine was shot by the 2nd day).

"EVERYONE SIT DOWN! I AM SICK AND TIRED OF HAVING TO SCREAM OVER YOUR NOISE! IS THIS HOW YOU ACT FOR MS. ___? IS THIS HOW THIRD GRADERS ARE SUPPOSED TO ACT? YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES!..." and so on. Well this speech, believe it or not, did shock them into a staring silence, and I thought it had done the trick. I finished speaking and stood for a moment to catch my breath, and in that moment, I heard a snicker, and all was lost. The class erupted once more into an all-consuming chaos.

More to be said on this experience in the next post.

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