I had my first two substituting assignments last week. Both involved the third grade.

It’s always a good sign when you’re substituting for a male teacher. That’s because he’s usually a coach. And coaches, at least in Redstone, really have the plum jobs. Something to justify their salary and little more. It was frequently the case in my district that they taught the most basic of subjects, but in Redstone it’s not even that.

The time when I was teaching at the alternative school and had six students over three periods? Coach!

The time when I was doing a votech class on “workforce studies”? Coach!

And last week, it was “library tech.” Computer class! Coach!

The main thing was to avoid being bored while they listened to their headsets and learned to type using some free web site involving animated rhinos. The teacher (coach) said all I had to do was prevent them from talking and make sure that their posture was good. He was very concerned about their posture. When he left, he yelled “Posture!” and everybody sat up straight.

At the end of the day, I got to tell a teacher that her students were very well behaved in computer lab. I like getting to tell teachers that their classes were good.

I met the principal at this school (the last one I hadn’t substituted at before, I’m pretty sure), and this time not for a bad reason (it’s typically not good when a principal knows who you, a substitute teacher, are). We had lunchroom duty at the same time. I told a couple kids to stop running and he said “Actually, let them run. They fall, they hurt themselves, they are more careful about running in the future.” I’m not sold on the school itself (though the building itself is awesome), but I respect the attitude. On the other hand, during my off-period I was walking out to my car and a bunch of first graders were playing outside on a lawn near the parking lot with a huge hill unattended. I can think of 100 ways for something to go wrong with that.

There is a story in the background on all of this I cannot divulge because it actually got national news coverage and would give away my location. Frustrating.

The next day was a standard third grade class for a full day. It was at Creston, one of the “good schools.” The difference between a good school and a bad school is that (a) a good school you spend 50-75% of your time teaching or helping them learn and 25-50% of your time putting out fires and in a bad school you spend 50-75% of your time on classroom management, and (b) in a good school when you scream at the kids to be quiet, they do or at least try.

Things started breaking down towards the end of the day. The third grade is the first grade in which they have to stay all the way to 3:00 and the kids seemed to mentally check out at about 1, when they used to leave. I had to leave a less-than-stellar note for the teacher. She showed up before I left, however, and I talked to her about it in person. I told her that the kids weren’t bad, they just had trouble keeping quiet. She pounced on the latter part and said that she would give them a good talking-to.

It sort of feels like leaving reviews on eBay or the Subaru questionnaire where anything less than a perfect review is a bad review. It makes me almost want to say that they were perfect, because they were more good than bad.


Category: School

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9 Responses to 3rd Grade: Posture!

  1. Kevin says:

    Will,

    I think of you every time I teach my oldest daughter’s Sunday School class. She’s 7 and just entered the second grade. There is one kid in the class named James, who is an absolute nightmare. He’s not malicious, but he cannot sit still, refuses to follow directions or obey orders, and I invariably spend 75% of my time just trying to corral him. If this were actual school, I’d probably send him to the principal’s office, but it’s Sunday School. I can’t send him anywhere for misbehaving, I can’t spank him (although I would like to), so I just try to keep his disruption to a minimum. I’ve gotten to where I don’t even bother trying to teach the lesson anymore.

  2. Mike Hunt says:

    You saw All the Right Moves, right? Remember what Craig T Nelson taught in that movie?

    they listened to their headsets and learned to type using some free web site involving animated rhinos.

    Was Mavis Beacon busy?

    In all seriousness, did you know that Mavis Beacon wasn’t an actual person?

    Principal: Actually, let them run. They fall, they hurt themselves, they are more careful about running in the future

    I don’t think this is such a good idea.

    it’s typically not good when a principal knows who you, a substitute teacher, are

    That’s surprising to me, since he is in charge of the building. He should know everyone in it.

  3. trumwill says:

    Kevin, it’s amazing what little it takes to disrupt an entire classroom. I’ve never had a single kid that bad (though I would have the option of sending him or her to the principal’s office if I did). But the difference between two or three bad kids and five or six make all the difference in the world. Even when I can send kids down the hall.

  4. trumwill says:

    I’ve never heard of All The Right Moves or Mavis Beacon.

    I don’t think this is such a good idea.

    Maybe not. But boy is it a refreshing change from the degree of control otherwise exerted.

    That’s surprising to me, since he is in charge of the building. He should know everyone in it.

    As often as not, they lock themselves in their office.

  5. Kevin says:

    You should write The Substitute Teacher Diaries. It wouldn’t have to be true, just close enough to true to give subarbanite moms a heart attack.

    As for James, yes, he is that bad. There’s something frustrating about a kid who refuses to submit to your authority because he figures out that the man behind the curtain is operating the great Wizard of Oz.

  6. Mike Hunt says:

    I’ve never heard of All The Right Moves or Mavis Beacon.

    Neither did my grandmothers. It makes a man your age a dunce, however.

    If only there were a way to look up such things.

  7. trumwill says:

    If only there were a way to look up such things.

    Unfortunately, they don’t sell Encyclopedia Britannica anymore.

    (Yes, I did look it up, but didn’t have time to see anything more than that one was a football movie and the other was some typing program.)

  8. stone says:

    Third grade is the first year they don’t go half-day?! My kindergartner goes from 8:30 to 3 p.m. (with lunch and naptime). What’s the youngest grade you’ve taught so far?

    My kid broke down crying tonight under the intensive drilling for his first spelling test (written, with 10 3-letter words) tomorrow. I almost felt bad for him. We didn’t even get homework when I was in kindergarten.

    We didn’t have computer class either. He does, and a coach teaches it.

  9. Mike Hunt says:

    The third grade is the first grade in which they have to stay all the way to 3:00

    I am with stone. I am surprised that all the students don’t go all day in 2011. When I was in school K was half day and 1st was until 2, but that was some time ago. I just figured that everyone went full day now, for better or for worse. I think that K is a little early for full day school, but since parents now use school as free daycare, that situation isn’t going to change any time soon. In the same vein, parents HATE when a snow day is called.

    As an aside, when I was in K, the first semester we went afternoons and the second we went mornings. Why did the change upset me? Not so I could sleep later, since I would wake up early then. I was upset because I wouldn’t get to watch Match Game and The Price is Right. While we had a BetaMax, my parents weren’t going to waste tapes to record game shows, so I was SOL.

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