Tag: teachers

The Ins and Outs of Being a Substitute Teacher

On this Monday morning, the door to the classroom is open. The teacher I’m replacing is at her desk gathering some last minute items for the field trip she’s chaperoning today. She doesn’t make eye contact when she says, “Are you my sub?” and hands me the sheet of paper with the lesson plans typed on it.

As I’m scanning it, she mentions that I might get asked to cover some other classes since she has two periods when she only has “teacher’s assistants” in the room. I’d like to ask about this, but I don’t. Instead I’m thinking, “This is going to be a long day.”

What Adds Hours

I’ve worked in education long enough to know that plenty of substitute teachers bring a thick novel and hope they’ll get uninterrupted reading time during their day. I’m not one of those.

Sure, I have my tablet, and there are always books to be read on one of my digital reader apps. Most of the time, I plan to use the planning period (at least) to work on whatever project I’m writing that day. Or I might whip out a blog post or two (like this one).

But for the most part, a day where students aren’t going to be engaging with me tends to be a L-O-N-G one. Here are some things I might see in sub plans that tell me this eight hours is going to feel like sixteen:

  • A movie (that will be played for three or four different classes)
  • Ongoing work on a project (like the essay in the sophomore language arts class today)
  • Silent reading of a text and a corresponding worksheet
  • Traveling to the computer lab to work on something
  • An online assignment (because many of the students will head off to a fun place in cyberspace and will conveniently ignore me when I try to redirect them)

This last one is what the seniors in honors language arts are doing on the day I’m penning this. They’re honors students, so they might be more on-task than the average class, but they’re seniors too. And it is the week before spring break.


Things You Wouldn’t Think You’d Do

Babysitting students while they supposedly work on an ongoing assignment is expected. Teachers don’t know what sort of substitute will be filling in for them (unless they request a specific one), and maybe the substitute won’t know the first thing out the subject matter.
Thus, I tried not to feel offended during this conversation today:

Me: “So should I expect some students will want me to check off this sheet before they begin writing?”
Teacher: “I wouldn’t worry about that.” Pause. “Unless you feel comfortable identifying themes.”
Me: Stunned into silence.

Hello? I have an English literature degree. And I’m familiar with Bradbury’s classic FAHRENHEIT 451. Are you serious right now?
But worse than that expectation that I wouldn’t “get” what sophomores are doing is the drill that will be held during second period. The vice-principal came in first thing to hand me the “procedures.”
I’ve already been on a fire drill at this school. But today there will be a LOCK DOWN drill. This is preparatory for a “live shooter” or “other threat” on campus.
So, when the announcement comes on, I’ll get to pull the blinds, switch of the lights and huddle under my desk with a class full of teenagers. All of them will have their phones out, and I’m supposed to keep them off those.

Because in the event of an actual lock down, those lights would be an open invitation to the threat that the room was filled with innocents. Not really a message we want to give out.

As the VP explains things to me (and I’m not a novice to this, so he really didn’t have to), he ends the conversation with, “It’s unfortunate that we even have to practice this.”

Unfortunate might be an understatement. This is the world we live in where people won’t even let kids learn in peace at school.

And then they decide to have a fire drill on the back side of sitting on the floor in the dark for six minutes. I’m sure you can guess how engaged those sophomores were when we came back to class 20 minutes later.


What Adds Interest

I didn’t want to end this post with a negative tone, so let’s talk about things that add interest to my day of substitute teaching. There are a few. It’s not always glorified babysitting (with a WAY better paycheck than I ever earned back in the day).

I’m a writer. I love reading. You can imagine what sort of things I’d find interesting when in the same room with teenagers. Things like:

  • Reading and discussing an article
  • Reading and discussing a short story with a specific purpose (like writing a paragraph on some literary device or element afterward)
  • Reading and discussing poetry
  • Watching a video that will spark a conversation that segues into an assignment
  • Brainstorming ideas for stories (a rare joy these days)
  • Class discussion when students actually participate

There are probably other things that have made the hours slide by in a middle or high school classroom. In the end, it boils down to student engagement and teacher-student interaction.

What things have you done at work lately that were unexpected? What makes the day drag on and on for you?

It’s Month Six Already?

In honor of yet another month in the Dauntless year of 2017, today’s post will be mostly pictorial.

How about some poetry to start things off?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around here, no one is really feeling Frodo.

What used to be the end of school on June 14, is now more like June 22. (Snow days aren’t always a good thing).

I finished my senior year the last week of May. Because summer started in June. Remember the days when…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students aren’t the only ones who count down to summer vacation. You know what really gets a teacher wishing for the last day of school?

Every teacher and student in the world knows that June holds this imperative:

In Oregon, we can welcome the month of June with joy and anticipation.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll get sunshine over showers.

June means more time to write as my subbing days are over (well, for the last week anyway). This year it means traveling to a new country.

Summer is my favorite season. Not surprising since I love the sunshine.

What are you looking forward to in June?

 

 

WINTER FAIRY TALE Releases Today!

WFT_Cover

Winter Fairy Tale

Contemporary Romance
By: Laura Lamoreaux and T.L. French
Publisher: Roane Publishing

 

Sometimes, to remember all that is best and bright about love, you must go home.

After being dumped by her boyfriend of two years, there is nothing that Sarah Jepsom dreads more than going back home to her marriage-obsessed mother.  To make matters worse, it’s for her little sister’s fairytale wedding on none other than Valentine’s Day.  The only positive note is it will also be a chance to see her dear friend Mark for the first time in a year.

Sarah’s Bridezilla sister Valerie takes it upon herself to invite Sarah’s old high school boyfriend to be her date for the wedding. Nathan is set on renewing their relationship, but old feelings remind Sarah why it didn’t work the first time. When Mark confesses his long-held feelings for her, Sarah is angry and convinced that romance is not for her. Then, her father reminds her of all that is best and bright about love, that can often be found right under our noses.

Buy the Book here

Meet the Authors:

LAURA LAMOREAUX

Laura Lamoreaux is a licensed clinical psychologist, and drew from her work in therapy to show what living with a mental illness is really like. Her writing partner provided all of the teaching details included in the story.

Connect with her on Twitter – @laura_lamoreaux

T.L. FRENCH

T.L. French is a Junior High English teacher. Connect  on Twitter : @ticilsmith

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Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for your chance at a $25 Roane Publishing Gift Card, Bracelet with charm from Sweet Inspiration, Hot cocoa mixes and mug from The Crimson Curse

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Good News: There are Heroes in your Child’s School

I work at a school when I’m not working behind my keyboard. Schools are important places for the present and future health of a country. Lucky for us, there are heroes there.

During the ten years I worked full-time at the middle school, we fielded tons of questions when a school shooting happened. Think Sandy Hook Elementary. Or even the Boston Marathon bombing.

A local law enforcement official died in the line of duty trying to subdue an armed man in a town a few miles from where we lived. His death, funeral and the dedication of a section of our highway in his name all provided in-class opportunity to discuss important safety issues with our students.

Another shooting happened on September 29 in South Carolina. A 14-year-old took a gun into an elementary school and shot two students and a teacher.

You know what, no matter what reason comes to light from this teenage gunman, I’ll never understand the compulsion to gun down defenseless children. (Thinking of the Jedi temple scene in Episode III – when Anakin Skywalker became irredeemable in my eyes.)

But I’m thankful for the everyday heroes who worked at the Townville school and who volunteered for their fire department. Those people are worthy of admiration.

In Townville, an unarmed volunteer fireman, Jamie Brock, searched the grounds for the shooter. When he saw him hiding in the grass, he confronted and subdued him. It didn’t matter that the shooter had a gun aimed at him and Brock had only a determination for right.

You know what else I admire about this everyday hero? He knows who the real heroes are in that school building and so many others around the world.

“The true heroes of (this) senseless tragedy are the teachers that put their lives on the line to protect their students, the principal who through fears of her own (did) what was right to ensure the safety of the school,” Brock said via statement at a September 30 press conference.

Brock contends that his reaction to search for the gunman is no different than what any fire or law enforcement personnel would do. After all, they put their lives on the line daily to protect their communities.

It’s nice to see teachers heralded as heroes. Most are overworked and underpaid as they pour all of their talents and passion into teaching children, preparing them for life.

As the teacher I worked with and I told our students, it is our job to protect them. From bullies. From their own ignorance. And, yes, most definitely from an armed assailant.

Do you know a heroic educator? Brag on them in the comments. Then go and tell them how much you appreciate all they do.

School Begins: So will this argument about dress code

Is this really about treating girls like sex objects?
Is this really about treating girls like sex objects?

Most of the time, I just blow off the millions of memes I see on Facebook, especially when they’re obviously nothing more than a soapbox. For some reason, this one stabbed deeper than others. Because enforcing a dress code has nothing to do with shaming or promoting misogyny.

I worked in the public education system for nearly fifteen years. I sent girls (in 7th or 8th grade) whose breasts were hanging out of their strappy camisole to the office for a “real” shirt.

I am a die-hard believer of successful education, which means I support dress codes. AND there’s no point in having rules if they aren’t going to be enforced (state and federal governments might care to remember this).

Since I’m a woman, it’s obvious that I don’t hold these beliefs because I believe I’m nothing more than a sex object. Of course, I am from a pre-70s generation, so I’ve probably been brainwashed by societal norms *rolls eyes.*

Anyone who knows me is doubled over with laughter. Here, let me give them a moment to collect themselves.

This meme is a perfect example of the tendency in American society to blow every little thing out of proportion while claiming it has something to do with discrimination.

Alert: Dress codes exist everywhere

At the schools where I worked, guys were dinged nearly as often as girls for inappropriate dressing. Mostly it had to do with their pants pulled so low those boxers they wanted everyone to see were hanging out.

The rule: undergarments can’t be on display.

How many of us would go to work with our undergarments on display?

(Other than those of us who work at a home office where sweats and pajamas are part of the norm.)

School is about preparing young people for adulthood.

Unfortunately, some people are counting on the school system to teach their kids things that only parents should be addressing.

“Because what if those parents don’t talk to their girls about menstruation or birth control?”

Yeah, what if that happens. Because that happens quite frequently? Systems are being constructed around the exceptions in society rather than the majority.

And I probably just offended someone with that statement. Maybe even a multitude of someones. Please read on before you compose your diatribe for my comments section.

You can’t change physiology, folks. Teenagers are walking hormones. They’re going to be distracted by things like what a person’s wearing.

How can a teacher compete with that?

A girl who’s worried about being told to cover up her assets isn’t thinking about how her education was interrupted by this trip to the office. Do people really think that? Or is that just a reason they know will bring attention to their gripes?

In fact, most of these teenagers would go along and get along if media didn’t push issues like this to the forefront of everyone’s mind. I’m not saying they would be drones, but they’d learn. In this case, they could understand the point of enforcing the dress code.

It has nothing to do with discrimination. It’s not about reinforcing some perspective that women are sex objects.

It’s about teaching people to follow the rules.

I’m not going to bring in the statistics about the ever-increasing misdemeanor crime among young people. You live here. You know it’s a problem.

Maybe it’s because rather than telling kids, “Those are the rules. We don’t have to agree. We don’t have to like it. But we do have to follow them;” parents and media are encouraging them to defy the rules they disagree with.

As if teenagers need any additional incentive to buck the system.

The fact is, we do have to follw the rules. At school. Or work. In public. Otherwise, there are consequences.

At home, dress how you want. Watch what you want. Drink it, do it, knock yourself out. At home, you make your own rules.

But rather than bashing the school’s standards, support them as necessary for that time and place. Fight them through regular channels if you truly feel they’re unfair, biased, or out-dated.

For the next two weeks, I’ll post on this topic again. Next up: a letter to the teenage girl referenced in the meme that started this fire under my feet. The third post: a letter to the teenage boy supposedly being taught to regard girls as sex objects.

What do you think? Feel free to disagree with me. All I ask is that you use the same amount of respect you want when people argue against you.