Adventures in Subbing #8

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It’s always a joy to see students succeed and to know I was a part of their past.  Even as a sub I’ve made connections and am excited to watch students grow and be successful. Here is one small example written Ceci Angel.   I wish RMS – the soon to be former RMS – tons of best wishes for next year!

Thanks to the Leaf for publishing this

How Do We Say Goodbye?

 

Other RMS links:

Thrones and Bones

RMS Theatre

Tradition

 

 

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Adventures in Subbing #7: School Dance

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“I just wanted to know what it felt like to be someone you look at.” – Ove, from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

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This week I was witness to a modern day middle school dance. I use the term dance loosely. It was more like a sweaty, sugar high, hormone fest. I never attended a dance until the Prom my senior year, unless you count square dancing in fourth grade. However, some things don’t change. We all want to know what it feels like to be the one someone else wants to look at. To be someone that a special someone else wants to be with.

 

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Adventures in Subbing #6

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He could steady a one-hundred-and-eighty pound man by himself, fold up and carry a wheelchair one-handed, but that didn’t count on the basketball court or in grammar or much of anywhere. – from Stand Tall by Joan Bauer 

There are skills that are sometimes taught, sometimes caught, that often go unnoticed. I saw this a few weeks ago in a fourth grade classroom. I was standing in the back of a room while another teacher was reading a story about Rosa Parks to the students. A chubby, red faced boy in the back was kind of sniffling and putting his head down. I wasn’t sure if he was ill or sad or if I should approach him. Before I could decide, a student just acted on his instinct. I watched a sharply dressed young black student walk all the way across the room, put his hand on the blubbering boy’s shoulder, and speak kindly to him. I was so touched. I thought how proud Rosa Parks would have been to see that moment.  I read more to the class about Mrs. Parks, and her struggles and we had a wonderful discussion.

A short while later, I saw the boy smiling broadly who had before been so sad. Seems he thought he’d lost a watch and was going to get in a lot of trouble, but he found it way back in his desk.

I didn’t get a chance to speak to the kind boy, but I wish I had. I wish I had told him I noticed.

 

 

Adventures in Subbing #5

On the other hand he tried to point out her that she shouldn’t give money to the beggars in the street, as they’d only buy schnapps with it. But she kept doing it.

“They can do what they like with the money,” she said.

When Ove protested she just smiled and took his big hands in hers and kissed them, explaining that when a person gives to another person it’s not just the receiver who’s blessed. It’s the giver. – from A Man Called Ove

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A few weeks ago I gave a writing prompt to some fourth graders. They had been focused earlier on the character trait of “caring” , so I told them to pretend I’d given them $100. But, the catch was they had to give it to someone in need or a charity. Some of the students shared what they had written, and one young boy reminded me of Ove, and of myself in days past. He told of giving to the homeless, but also went on to say some of them would not use the money for food like they should. I remember grappling with this same issue years ago. I now believe that if I give money, it’s between them and the Lord what they do with it. I am not to be the judge.

A few other responses touched my heart from those students. Like the girl who said she would give it to her mother so they could move out of her grandma’s house and get their own home.

The past few years I have learned to give anonymously. Though I long to see the joy on a child’s face on Christmas, I am happy knowing I made it possible for someone. And when I don’t know someone well enough to seek them out for a hug in times of grief or crisis, I can ask God to bless the little I can give, and to send comfort along with it.

Adventures in Subbing #3

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“…but do you know, we never ask questions, or at least most don’t; they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing, and us sitting there for four more hours of film teacher. That’s not social to me at all. “ – Clarisse, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Clarisse is the student we all wish to have in our classrooms. She is bright and curious. She wants to ask questions. She wants to be social in that she wants to talk of things of substance. How many students, like Clarisse, are stuck in classes where the teachers run facts and information by the students, but don’t explain or discuss the ideas? How many sit for hours under “film teachers”?

Sometimes being a sub is like being the fly on the wall. I see things that make me cringe. Yes, sometimes there are facts that just need to be memorized, like addition and multiplication facts. And, yes, films can be very enlightening and can add understanding to a lesson, but they should not replace the lesson. However, sitting for hours and having answers thrown out – bing-bing-bing- is an all too common occurrence in many classrooms.

I don’t know what the answer is. I was not a perfect teacher, but I can’t imagine the guilt I’d feel if all day every day I “ran the answers” at the students without explanation and guidance.. That’s not teaching.

Adventures in Subbing #2

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“There is always something left to be done and no heart left to do it,” – George MacDonald

As the school year draws to a close, I think most teachers can relate to this. I’m not just talking about end of the year festivities, getting the grades in and packing up the classroom for summer. Yes, those and a hundred other things sit on the plates of teachers everywhere. But, I’m thinking of that kid, the one who acts out all the time and touches every last nerve. The one who may have a long summer ahead filled with hours of sitting at home. The one who won’t take a family vacation or go camp. The one for whom school is a respite from something much harder.

Hang in there, my teacher friends. Hug them tight when you hug them goodbye and renew your hearts and minds this summer.

Adventures in Subbing #1

I’m nearing the end of my second year of substitute teaching here in Alabama and I’ve come to look at it as more than just a job. When  I was a full-time teacher, I had so much on my plate and so much on my mind that many days I was too exhausted to think much past the next set of papers I had to grade. Now I’m looking at things from a little different perspective.

Some days I just sit and don’t do much more than take roll and pass out an assignment. Other days might be jammed packed with instruction and discipline. The variety is usually enjoyable. I have learned to be an observer and I try to make connections with students when I can.

From time to time I’ll be sharing my thoughts, observances, and tidbits from the classroom.

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“A circle was ugly without you.” -from Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty

 

Being on the outside of a circle, looking in, is a lonely place to be. I’ve felt that way over the years, but fortunately not too often. It hurts, no matter how old you are. But, the middle school years are the hardest. If you aren’t in a circle, your outsideness really shows.

Today I saw a pretty young girl sitting all alone in a room full of kids who were talking to each other and laughing while they sat together. I didn’t know her or her story, but I wondered. Did she choose to sit alone? Did she just not have a friend in this particular class, but when the bell rang would she meet up with her BFF as she headed for her next class? I sure hoped so. That’s what I wished for. I wish everyone had a BFF waiting somewhere for them. A person who was interested, a person who cared. But, I know that isn’t always the case. So, all the more reason to be kind. And to remember how ugly that circle can be when you are on the outside.

 

First Quarter Gone

A quarter of 2016 has already slipped by. The following is a recap of the last three months, just covering some of the highlights.

  1. I was the voice of @BeingBham on twitter for the last week of January
  2. Had the best pork chop ever at  Gianmarcos in Homewood
  3. Got my name on the sign at Demetri’s!
  4. I met Matt Redmond, author of God of the Mundane
  5. I flew to Tampa for Juliette’s 3rd birthday and Princess Party
  6. Heard  the Vulcan Eejits at the Hoover Library
  7. Spent quite a few days subbing at RMS and PHS
  8. Rediscovered some old photos
  9. Discovered Eudora Welty