Wow! It’s been a long break from writing that has included many changes in my personal and professional life. I am taking the year off from teaching to live with my parents in Georgia while my fiance attends some training down here! It’s all very exciting but I quickly realized I would need a job to keep myself from going stir crazy! I decided to get a job substitute teaching in the local schools. It took forever to get approved but finally I have been into a few classrooms! I thought I was prepared for this gig, but let me tell you… subbing is not at all what I expected!
I knew kids would test my management, ask lots of questions, and maybe be a bit bossy. And there was nothing surprising there! I have enjoyed all of the kiddos I have worked with. What surprised me was how BORED I have been!
Not being in the classroom this year is a huge change for me. I missed the anxiety and anticipation of the new year. I didn’t get to set up a classroom, make lesson plans or spend hours mulling over exactly what I should do to get the year started on just the right foot. I missed it…big time. So when I got my first subbing assignment I was stoked! I thought I would be able to get a little bit of satisfaction from just being with kids and being in a school. And while I did enjoy the time I spent with the kids, I left that first day feeling even more down. I had spent the whole day forcing kids to do mind numbingly boring work…sub proof activities that were just meant to keep us all busy. What killed me was I had done the same thing to my past subs. They must have been bored to tears! The truth is you never know who you are going to get for a sub, so you have to make sure that you leave plans that even the least qualified person can follow. I totally get it!
So I suffered through a few other similar sub assignments. Different grade levels, different schools. I became less and less motivated to wake up early and check for open jobs. Finally I signed up to take a three day gig for a gifted resource teacher. Being here made me realize what exactly I have been missing most about teaching my own class.
This teacher left me her daily schedule and a list of activities with descriptions that I could choose to do! I also got to choose how long to spend in each activity. While they weren’t the most thrilling of choices, it was still a choice. And there was the freedom to be responsive to what the kids wanted/needed. That’s what I had missed the most. The planning of activities to meet student needs, the need to change plans in the moment to respond to the needs of a child. The challenge of balancing what needs to get done with what kids need. This assignment has (mostly) allowed me that.
I felt that I had enough freedom that I could grab the copy of Sherry Parrish’s Number Talks off the classroom shelf and lead an RTI group through a number string. It was the shortest number talk I’ve ever done, but I felt invigorated! The best part was these kids knew the routine! They were brave and respectful and engaged, so much better than the packet of rote multiplication facts they had to do yesterday. They noticed that 2×7 is easy and 8×7 is hard! But if you know 2×7 you can figure out 8×7 pretty quickly. One little lady said, “I think maybe we could do this with nines?” Yes!! This is what I had been so needing! A student led exploration, where I could get excited and kids could learn something from one another and ask questions and wonder! We were rudely interrupted by a fire drill (which is really kind of scary as a sub. Thank goodness for Carlos, who sprung into action. “Follow me, Ma’am!” Haha). Once we made it back to class our time was up, but I asked them to consider the question, “can we do this with 9s?” I can’t wait to see what they have been thinking about when they come back to me today! ☺️