1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Things I love about subbing

Arriving early

In an attempt to be a glass half-full kind of guy, here are some reasons I love being a guest/substitute/single-serving teacher. In no particular order

1. When I repeat my corny stale jokes or engage in painful puns, they're fresh for the students.

2. It is fun to plan and organize the day with just a few minutes to know what the day is going to look like (block or traditional schedule? when's lunch? is there a place to walk?).

Afternoon, heading back to school
3. I almost always can get in at least 20 minutes of vigorous walking, sometimes close to an hour if I get a prep and lunch back-to-back.

4. I get to see a variety of teaching styles (second hand) by (a) examining handouts, texts and other artifacts and (b) by talking to students about their experience in the particular classroom.

5. By focusing on subbing for English and history teachers (predominately, not exclusively), I've had the opportunity to assess myself as a teacher: "Where do I feel more 'at home'? Which subject would I enjoy more - be better at?"

6. I've seen enough of both English and history classes to see that both are subject to certain shortcomings or limitations in the way they can be taught: (a) English - excessive attention paid to technical aspects of literature (mood, tone, diction...) but insufficient emphasis on discovering the meaning of the text (the latter based on numerous conversations with students about this very question - how do you discuss the text? what does it [say, Animal Farm] mean to you?). (b) History - too much "bookwork" and note-taking and worksheets. Likewise, a lack of discussion in any organized or systematic way. Students lack both interest in history and an understanding of its relevance for their lives. The good thing: I'm seeing things to avoid in the future. 

7. I'm getting to know the schools themselves. How they operate, but more significantly, the relationships between students and staff. School culture, in other words.

8. I'm becoming convinced that I could not merely 'survive' but thrive in most of the 15 or so high schools I've subbed at. That's pretty cool.

9. My appreciation for the block schedule has grown by leaps and bounds. I think it is not only good for teachers, but good for students, too.

"Cue the Sun"
10. Even when I have the occasional bad day, tomorrow is a new day.

11. Rarely, very rarely do I have any homework after school or reporting to do.

12. I can almost always work productively with students and have a few laughs.

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