Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Aren't they terrible?

Folks around school are slowly beginning to recognize me as Mrs. T.'s long-term sub. I've had an occasional "Who are you?"-type questions, and the teachers and staff here have been very welcoming and friendly, occasionally popping in to see how things are going. This morning the head of the English department stopped by, apologizing for not having stopped in sooner, provided me with her e-mail address, and encouraged me to stop by or e-mail her if I have any questions or problems. I really like this school and am trying to figure out a way of having them contact me for future subbing gigs after this one ends.

The kids are not the type I'm used to, but my experience teaching at the secondary level is still limited. I did my high school student teaching portion at a school on West 18th Street in Chelsea, New York City; it was so terrible, that the city shut it down in part because of its disciplinary problems and low, low graduation rates. (The man who was the principal when I student taught there had been forced to resign after a Regents exam cheating scandal. This was the same guy who told me that student teachers shouldn't teach because they didn't have the experience to teach. At least there's a new principal these days.)

My very first subbing gig was a five-day position at a very small private Christian school where I covered history and English. The school was so small, I had multiple grades in my classes, which were led by a teacher who was a career-changer. Apparently it was normal for him read aloud, or have the students read aloud, from the textbook, after which they'd answer the questions from the book; the tests were also textbook publisher supplied (I don't think teacher himself wrote any of his own tests). The students were very quiet, very polite, and completely personality-free, which made the job both easy and interminably dull. (Plus, the school had a policy that the female teachers could only wear skirts or dresses.) I then subbed in the South Bronx, which, let me tell you, was about as different as the Christian school as you could get. Students, if they attended, if they weren't hostile, had a big attitude; schools were loud and full of mayhem; the buildings were dirty and/or old; and the classrooms were largely disorganized. I remember thinking that I wished I could cross the Christian school students with the students from New York City; I like my students to have at least a little attitude, although not as much as the gun- and knife-toting, iPhone-stealing kids in New York City.

The kids here are completely different. They have actual personalities, and the biggest problem I have is that they won't shut up when I want their attention. (This is what we in education call "small potatoes.") There are some irritating kids, as there are everywhere, but by and large I like the kids, and I enjoy their goofiness. When I get asked by the teachers here how everything is going, and if I'm having any problems, I briefly think of the kids in New York City and have to admit that the kids here simply aren't a problem.

P.S. It's strange not to label my posts with the NaBloPoMo tag. I think I missed one entry during the month of November, but only because I was at a complete loss one day what to write. Fortunately, a few ideas were presented to me at the last minute and I got all blog entries posted. I enjoyed being put in a position where I had to write. It's cathartic.

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