Monday, January 30, 2012

Student teaching With A Substitute Teacher

Hi everyone! Today was such an odd day!
First of all, you'll be happy to know that Phoebe was back at school today, after missing about two weeks! (If you missed the post and don't want to go read it, Phoebe caught strep throat, which somehow spread to her heart and caused her to go into heart failure last week.) She was nervous about coming back to school. When you're four, two weeks is forever! So her mother dropped off some bags of mini donuts for her to pass out to the class, as a surprise. I was so glad to see Phoebe alive and well... I was really worried! She reported that she had a "rash," (scarlet fever connected to the strep) and was in the hospital, and that although she didn't get to play with any toys, she did get to watch Barbie movies!
Mrs. Wing was out, so we had a sub. I'll just call her Ms. Sub. In one way it was a good day for me because, without Mrs. Wing there, I was able to see how much of the schedule I'd learned and how well I'd gotten to know the kids! I was able to help the sub out a lot, which was kind of a good feeling. And Mrs. Sub was a nice person and everything, so it was all good. Except...
Well, many of my readers (LOL or should I say a fraction of my 8 readers) are teachers. So you have probably had someone fill in for you when you are not at work. But have you ever worked with a sub? When I was an aide in a school I worked with many subs, and I know there are about four different ranks. First of all you should know that being a substitute teacher is a hard job... its like every single day is your first day of work, and everyone expects you to already know everything. So you get the freaked-out subs who are sure they are messing up everything at all times. (I'd probably be that type, if I tried to be a sub!) There are the good subs that are great at following the teacher's sub plan to a T and get everyone through the day in one piece. There are great subs who not only follow the teacher's sub plan, but add some of their own charm (like teaching the kids a new song, or doing an extra art project, or playing games during recess.) And then there are the subs who are like, "I am an awesome teacher, and clearly you are doing everything wrong, and while I'm here I will give this classroom a total makeover!"

Mrs. Sub subs at many different schools in the area, and she actually knows Ani's older brother. Before the kids even got off the bus, when Mrs. Sub noticed that Ani was in our class, she said, "Ani's brother always comes in with a scowl on his face!" I told her that Ani was the same way, and that he also often refuses to talk to anyone or do any work. So Mrs. Sub decided that today she was going to totally fix Ani. She spent the whole day talking to Ani and trying to get him out of his shell. She actually pulled him onto her lap and started tickling him at one point when he wouldn't listen to her about something... Ani looked flaming mad... and when he didn't want to play catch in the gym, she stood behind him and moved his arms so he had to catch and throw the ball. And things like that. For a while I was a little irritable about it, but I figured its just one day and a little extra attention for Ani couldn't hurt. But the thing about it was she was doing it with an attitude like, "I will be the one person to reach this child that everyone else has failed to reach!"
Also, all through the afternoon class she kept translating everything she said into Spanish for this one little kid, Chickadee, who is Hispanic. The thing is, Chickadee is three and has a developmental delay and a speech delay, so he doesn't really speak much of any language. But his mother was raised in the USA and they speak English at home, so Chickadee understands both languages equally. But she just assumed that, because he was Hispanic, he needed to hear everything in Spanish. If anything, he just looked a little confused.
Mrs. Sub was good in many ways, however. She'd make a great preschool teacher if she had her own class!

Another Ani story for you... Did you ever have a little kid who asks you permission for every single motion he makes when he's doing work? This is Ani whenever we work on an art project or do any type of school work. For all the scowling and refusing to participate Ani does the rest of the time, when he's sitting next to you at the work table he's so uncertain! Today, for instance, we were making these paper plate tambourines. You give the kids two paper plates stapled together except for one opening. Then the kids fill the opening with dried macaroni noodles, You staple the opening shut, and then they get to decorate it. Yay, a tambourine! When it was Ani's turn, he would just ask me for every little thing. Like, asking permission to put each individual macaroni noodle into the opening. "Do I put this in?" "Yes!" "This one?" "Sure, put it in." "This one?" "Put as many as you want in!" "This one?" "Yep!" The same went for decorating. He'd ask permission to pick up each individual  marker, and to make each individual mark. Each time, with this nervous look on his face. I tried telling him, "You're the boss of this project, Ani. You can put anything you want on it." Still, he was so nervous about making any moves. I've seen him be like this before when working with Mrs. Wing and with the aide, and today with Mrs. Sub, as well as with me whenever I work with him at anything. Its almost like he's afraid of getting yelled at (or worse) if he makes a wrong move. But on the other hand, this same little dude will refuse to sit with the other kids, refuse to answer a question at circle time, refuse to put away the Legos when he's not done making a fire hose (which he likes to do pretty often for some reason.) One minute he can be so talkative (well, talkative for Ani) telling you all about how he went trick-or-treating on Halloween The next minute he can be scowling and glaring at you because you told him you like the motorcycle picture on his sweatshirt. The next, he can be asking you permission to put a single bead onto a string. And the next, he can be standing with his arms crossed and his head down because he doesn't want to play with a ball in gym class.When he opens up to you, you can tell he's this sweet, sweet little boy who is desperate for approval and acceptance. But then when you ask him to let someone else have a turn with the fire engine, he acts like you just called him a rat bastard! What gives?
This was the first day of my third week, by the way. Third of five. I can't believe it is almost halfway over!


  1. Poor Phoebe! I'm glad she recovered all right.

    What happens if you praise Ani during craft projects? It's pretty awesome that he is asking for any sort of feedback, given how you describe him the rest of the time.

    Good work dealing with Mrs. Sub. It is hard to take over someone else's class, and it must be equally hard to work with someone who is taking over someone else's class!

  2. No, I'm not familiar with Manitowish Waters. I'm right on the boarder of Northern Wi and Upper Michigan. Sorry, Good luck student teaching!

  3. Glad to hear that you and Phoebe are both well! I had to work with 4 different subs when I was student teaching in the fall and one day the sub never even showed up so I was alone! It worked out, however, because I was right at the point where I was going to be independent in the classroom anyways.
    I can't believe it is already week 3, it is going by so quickly.


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