Friday, 13 February 2015

The first few days

I've had my first few calls to supply teach.  It was an initiation into the profession that would test the strongest resolve.

All the calls have been at one school.  (I have since learned that they have the earliest start time, which is why they call first.  I've actually missed calls from other schools because the secretaries weren't arriving until I was already in class at this first school.)  The school is well known to be the roughest in town.

My first call was into the grade eight class.  It's a hard age, because respect is earned bit by bit for these kids, and a supply teacher is starting at zero.  The first two hours were a write off.  No one listened to a word I said.  I have experience with this age group, but this was a whole new level of rudeness and apathy.  Then, the French teacher came in and showed me the ropes.  Four kids were in the principal's office within the first five minutes.  The rest were read the riot act.  Finally there was a semblance of order.  When the class returned from recess, I took a firmer hand.  I still had to send two more to the office (for repeatedly jumping up onto the counters) but at least I had some control.  It required a constant and vigilant overseeing and monitoring to make sure they were on task.  I overheard a lively conversation about which alcohol they preferred.  I witnessed one withdrawn girl using an x acto blade as a bookmark.  18 out of 24 of the kids were boys, and more than half were part of the behavioural class.  And as a special point of pride, they pointed out they had never had a supply teacher twice.  At least I learned that I'm still up to snuff on my algebra.

My second call was to a lovely grade 2/3.  I brought my guitar and we sang a song to learn names, accompanied a rendition of O Canada, and sang some other fun game songs.  I captured their attention with a dramatic reading of a story which they then had to finish off.  When their teacher returned at lunch, they proclaimed that I was fun and awesome and that they loved me.

My third call was to the learning disability (LD) class.  7 students who don't learn well in the traditional classroom setting and who are all far behind their grade level.  With only a few reminders, they all worked independently all morning on their assigned work.  Interesting that both the gifted and the LD class (each end of the learning spectrum) children are encouraged to work independently.  It only strengthens my resolve to encourage a classroom setting that helps children learn based on their interests, abilities, and at their own speed.

I now have to play a tricky game of chance.  Part of my goal in supply teaching is to make myself known in all the schools in Orangeville so that I can increase my chances of being hired when I finish my Masters.  The one school that is calling me has offered 3 days of work out of a possible five, which contributes greatly to the need to earn money.  Unfortunately, as their school day starts 30 minutes before many others, I am losing out on teaching at other schools by accepting every job they call with.  So now I will have to see how I can manage to achieve both the goal of making some money and the goal of getting known around town.

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