I’m still in the market, but have been actually fortunate to have been able to be working steadily. I already have some GAA tasks underway, with a basic plan that will allow them to be carried through to completion IF the teacher who returned this week can follow through. Basically there are VERY few teachers left in the building who know how to do a complete GAA. And at the high school level, the GAA stinky dog acquired more fleas because now there are two more standards to address!
But in the meantime I am transitioning to regular substitute work until I take another longterm position in a couple of weeks. And after only a couple of days, it has been a really interesting experience being among a more “general” population. Regular high school freshmen are really interesting people. Very energetic and squirrelly and all over the place. I found myself spending the day teaching a freshman math class on Tuesday.
Most special educators have issues with math, I have found. And I am no except as I struggled with math all the way through high school. In college, I took the easiest math course offered and it WAS such a low level course, I don’t think they even offer anything like it anymore. So when I took chemistry courses, I ended up having to go back and teach myself a lot of the math I should have already learned.
All this is to say that I found myself teaching some geometry to these 9th graders. I found that aside from the high energy of the classes and some bits of unruliness, I was able to do it surprisingly well. I even heard a few murmurs from the kids “This guy is teaching more than our regular teacher!” It’s hard to know whether to feel glad or sad about that. I don’t know the regular teacher at all, but did have to deviate from the lesson order a bit. Plus the video he had was just TOO packed with information and I could see eyes glaze over after 10 minutes. So after the first period, I broke things down a bit more and did a LOT more teaching than the typical babysitting most subs are used to. But not knowing the students on a more personal level was a definite obstacle in trying interact with them. One can not emphasize rapport between students and teachers enough when it comes to teaching and learning and it is something a substitute has a hard time with, especially just starting out.
The next day, I was co-teaching an environmental science class teaching juniors and seniors. What an amazing difference in maturity! And I was able to teach most of the day with an experienced teacher who obviously had a great relationship with his students as well the the other sp. ed. teacher I was substituting for. These students were so much more self-directed!
The next two days, I spent teaching U.S. History. Two sections were AP classes and the last class was a large regular class. I loved working with all of these students and they all needed a lot of work. Again, there was this sentiment expressed about wanting me or someone like me to be their regular teacher. And this was even expressed more mildly even from the few adults who happened to come in and see what I was doing. So I feel pretty good about my skills as a teacher. How to get potential employers to see it and buy into it is another thing entirely.
All-in-all it has been a bit of an eye-opening experience getting out amongst a “regular” population. After teaching a decade in an environment that is so utterly alien to the rest of the school, I was wondering if I could even handle life on the outside. And I am finding that while it consumes more energy, I’m able to make a good transition to a less restrictive environment with a minimum of difficulty. And I find myself enjoying the students a little bit more in that I can interact with them on a much higher level compared to what I’ve been able to do the past 10 years.