I didn’t plan very well for Day 2 of my Substitute Teaching – Michael had choir at 8:00 am and I had to be at the middle school (where David goes) at 7:10am. This meant that I needed to arrange a ride for him and I was working on that at 8:00 pm on Monday night. My bad. But I did manage to get a ride for him (thanks Maria!).
Monday night David informed me that he needed to be at school early (7:00 am – which is the time that he usually needed to be at the bus stop). They were having a saxophone sectional rehearsal time for about 30 minutes before school. So, I left with him and arrived early.
I was subbing for one of the Mild/Moderate teachers. Actually, I was subbing for the long-term substitute for one of the Mild/Moderate teachers. The sub notes on the Subfinder site asked me to call her for the plans, so I spoke with the sub on Monday night. She was very concerned about having a sub come in and working with the kids, but relaxed when I told her I was a licensed SPED teacher AND that one of the Mild/Moderate Teachers was having me come in to sub for her while she was out of town.
The first thing that I did after I checked in was find the rooms I would be in that day. The thing about SPED is that the teacher moves around, usually a lot. I can’t remember the exact schedule, but I helped in two Math classes (one 7th grade and one 8th grade), one Language Arts class, supervised Applied Academics (study hall for SPED kids) and taught one Language Arts class. The middle school day has 7 periods and lunch. So, it wasn’t too bad.
In 7th grade Math, the teacher was kind enough to show me what they were working on before the kids arrived. They were working with fractions and comparing them. After the 2 minute refresher the Math teacher gave me, I was good to go. I could do this Math and I could help the kids in the class that needed help.
In 8th grade Math they were reducing algebraic equations with tiles. This was the strangest math I had ever seen. The tiles were red on one side and blue on the other. There were single square tiles (to represent numbers) and tiles that were 4 times the size of a single tile to represent “x”. Red represented negative numbers and blue represented positive numbers. The kids had “mats” that were the size of a piece of paper and divided in half with “+” on the top and “-” on the bottom. For the example 3x – (-2x + 4) =? The kids would put 3 long blue tiles in the upper section of the mat. They would put 2 long red tiles and 4 single blue tiles on the bottom section of the mat. Then they would need to either flip the tiles and move them up or remove tiles that were the same on the bottom and top. To flip the tiles, in this example, they would move the 2 long red tiles up to the top and make them blue. They would also move the 4 single blue tiles to the top and flip them to red. Then they would remove any tiles that equaled 0 (there aren’t any in this example) and then figure out the reduced equation. In my example they would have 5 long blue tiles and 4 single red tiles so that the equation would be 5x-4. This seems to be the strangest way to figure this out. It took me almost the entire class period to figure it out and feel comfortable. So, I wasn’t much help in teaching this to the kids.
In Language Arts, the classroom teacher had me take a group of kids and read aloud to them. That was it.
In the Language Arts Class I taught, we read a chapter of The Giver, discussed vocabulary words and discussed the chapter. This was the best class of the day. It was more of a small group (6-7 students) and we sat around the room. The kids were engaging and talkative. They couldn’t believe the things that we didn’t have (computers in the home, the internet, etc) when I was their age. They also thought I was 30 (which was wonderful). And finally, they thought that I was an awesome teacher and wanted me to come back. When I told them that David was a student there, 2 of the girls knew him because he is a band aid and is in the band room as an aid for part of their choir class. They told me that they would not want their moms to substitute – their moms embarrassed them. But, I was cool and David was lucky to have me as a mom. Obviously, I loved these girls. Choir for them was the second to the last period of the day and they went from Language Arts to Choir. In Choir they told David that they met me and that I was great. Thankfully, David doesn’t mind me substituting at his school. He knows that I try very hard not to embarrass him and that since I teach SPED, when I do finally find a full-time position, if it is at his school, most likely our paths won’t cross regularly.
The final responsibility of the day was Applied Academics. In this “class,” I had something like 10 students and they were all very active. They had difficulty being quiet and staying on task (completing homework). One student in 8th grade missed the math explanation (with the tiles) and I spent a lot of time working with him, first teaching and then providing him with problems for him to work on. This was the worst part of my day. It was hard to teach and monitor the kids who were not doing what they were supposed to be doing.
The last period of the day was plan time and I didn’t have anything to do, so I hung out and talked with one of the SPED teachers. On a regular day, I would have checked in at the office and maybe been able to leave early, but I had told David I would drive him home. So, leaving early wasn’t an option.
Even though Applied Academics was a bit rough (and quite loud). I had a great day and would be very happy to work with those kids again. And believe it or not, I loved working with the middle school students!