I have repeated seventh grade nearly a dozen times. So when I got a text while substituting in a seven grade life science class to work in a seventh grade math/engineering classroom the next day, this was my first thought.
Two days of seventh grade?!?
If you follow my posts, you know I prefer teaching in high school English or literature classes. My truest nightmare was an advanced math class at high school with non-existent lesson plans.
As far as middle school goes, the only job I won’t take is PE. Well, I turned it down at my favorite high school when they asked me to take a PE/health position for two days.
The truth is, I completed the seventh and eighth grade curricula every year I worked at St. Helens Middle School as a special education instructional assistant. Well, I may as well have. I was expected to be able to tutor or teach my SPED students in any class they struggled.
But science and math on back-to-back days? Was someone trying to kill me?
Or maybe change my short hair to baldness?
Welcome to Life Science
I’m minding my own business on a quiet Monday night. Reading a book and trying to recover my equilibrium after wrestling with two uncooperative romance manuscripts all day.
I need to pick up two subbing jobs each week. I really need to do this now that I’ve purchased a $600 airplane ticket to New York City and my brother is telling me I’ll need $1000 in spending money for the four days I’m there.
A click on the Safari app on my iPad takes me to the Frontline employee absence website. The last three times I checked, there was nothing. This time:
Full Day Science at Scappoose Middle School.
I decide to let it ride. Because…science.
A minute later the phone rings. Yep. The absence system offers me the job.
I feared a movie. Instead, it was six 50-minute sessions reading the same two articles to seventh-grade students.
These are the same ones who played hide-and-seek under the lab counters.
I wish I was kidding.
Everyone Needs Math in Their Life
I’m slightly more than half-way through this science fest when my phone rumbles with an incoming text.
A teacher I worked with at St. Helens Middle School is sick. Could I cover his classes the next day?
But I see getting my second day of work outside the house done in short order. Won’t that help me focus on those stories better?
They’ve just started a unit on finding area in one-dimensional shapes. I could do this in my sleep.
Except trying to get them to sit still and listen to the instructions is like herding cats…across a flooding river…in a blizzard.
Don’t Forget to Engineer It
It boggles my mind that there is even time for an elective in a five period school day. They have to take math, science, PE and health, and humanities (a combination of language arts and social studies). I guess that does leave ONE class period open. Most students have band, choir or art. I guess there has to be a place for everyone else.
Enter thirty seven graders who would rather be bending pipe cleaners and straws into some sort of structure. Sit them at a desk.
Here’s the plan for the day: Watch a video about the Mayan engineering feats and write down twenty-five facts. Turn them in at the end of class.
Or if you get them done beforehand, get up and turn them in. Or ignore the film and chat with your friends. If the sub calls out a fact (to help you out because I’m nice that way) be sure to ask “What?”
It was the longest 43-minute class period of my day.
My Saving Grace
You heard me right. Each class lasted 43 minutes.
That was the saving grace for the day. Sure those seventh grade bottles of hormones squirreled around and talked when they should have listened. Yes, they asked me a dozen questions I had already answered during their unauthorized chatting time.
But, the final bell sounded at 1:30, a full two hours earlier than normal.
Which means, after standing outside with the same squirrels until they boarded their buses, I was free to leave two full hours before the end of the normal school day.
AND…wait for it…
I still got paid for eight hours. Because in the sub teaching world, there are half-day jobs and full-day jobs. Anything more than four hours is considered a full day.
In reality, I don’t mind a little seventh-grade math and science. At least I can speak intelligently about the lessons. You know, since I’m a repeat attender.
What was your favorite subject in school? What grade in school horrifies you the most?