I think High School spoiled me.
I get much more work working as a Substitute for High School that when I get a Middle School, I miss working High School much more.
I spent a good six years working the Middle School grade level. Personally, I think it is the grade level that needs more support and supplemental programs. I mean, elementary gets a lot of attention because kids are cute and they say the darndest things, they are an awesome age to engage them in creative activities because they are up for anything colorful and different, and we always want to encourage reading, writing, and math very early. High School gets all that recognition in scholarships, sports, activities, clubs, and off-campus events that they are old enough to do.
What does Middle School get? Pressure. “You’re no longer in elementary, so grow up!” “Take these tests because when you go to college…” “What do you mean you don’t want to go to college?” “Learn these test-taking skills.” “You must learn to take Cornell notes. It’s the only way.” Blah, blah, blah…poor kids.
Okay, forgive me, I went off topic.
And so, I subbed Middle School the other day. Language Arts. Back to my roots. The classes moved along as they should. The students have block scheduling so I get them for about 2hrs before the next class comes in. The lesson plan included silent reading (which I wonderfully managed), followed by a class reading of Jack London’s Call of the Wild , and then ended with watching the movie version.
I also got to watch Singing In The Rain for the Film, Fiction, and Writing class (which was only an hour).
Does not seem challenging, huh? Oh, but the Middle School age IS challenging.
My last two classes of the day were my absolute FAVORITE. I hate to say anything like that, but when the previous classes, though behaved, had a few challenges here and there, the last class of the day were excellent. Fine, they were an Honor’s class and were self-sufficient, but still, I was thankful to end the day with them.
My favorite statement of the day:
STUDENT: Oh, she’s good. She don’t play.
Tomorrow will be a new day, a new challenge. High School history…
When my Supervisor contacted me to let me know of available substitute teaching gigs (I know, she’s awesome, right?) she included the middle school that almost made me cry.
And you know what I did? I took the gig. Sure, I could have returned to the other schools she named, schools that know who I am, subbing subjects I am least familiar with, but I decided that I should face the school where I felt I failed, to dust myself and try again, and go back to the school and be the Guest Teacher in the subject area I am most familiar with: Language Arts.
FINALLY. Language Arts. I have waited for you for so long…
And you know what else? The day was a success. Plus, it is DEFINITELY helpful when a teacher has a clear-cut lesson plan ready, especially when it so well-overplanned that it is okay that the students do not get to complete all the assignments. By a teacher overplanning a lesson plan a Guest Teacher is able to fill the required time. Though I do not mind coming up with random activities to fill in time, I much rather fill it with activities the teacher would want.
All classes were 2 hour block classes, so how did I fill the time? It took fifteen minutes to introduce myself: greet students, establish my classroom rules, expectations, and take attendance. As directed by the teacher in his lesson plan, I gave the students fifteen minutes to respond to his writing prompt. The class was assigned to read Frank Stockton’s short story, The Lady Or The Tiger?. With reading the story, having the students discuss in their groups an alternate ending, selected students to share their alternate ending with the class (as instructed in the lesson plan), and then proceeded to end the block with students writing at least half a page of what the alternate ending would be (not in the lesson plan), the two hour block was filled.
Wow, these kids had some pretty creative ideas for an alternate ending!
I recognized two flaws in my teaching today. First, I should not push an assignment if there is no time to introduce, practice, begin, or complete it. Second, I missed something in the story that made me tell the wrong information to the students.
I am sorry first block students (periods 1 and 2). I did not have time to read the story ahead of time so I could not provide as much information as I would have liked as we read it. And, I am sorry I gave you homework without even reviewing it with you. The teacher even said, in his lesson plan, that it was up to me to give them the homework. Little did I know, there was no point to assigning it if we could not review it. Sorry, first block. The other blocks did not get any homework.
And, I am sorry first and third block (periods 5 and 6) for telling you (SPOILER ALERT) that the King chose which door to open. Somehow I missed it in the story that wrote “It was the duty and the privilege of the person on trial to walk directly to these doors and open one of them.” I did not know this until fourth block (periods 7 and 6) pointed this out to me. Smart kids.
Overall, it was a good day and I would like to return to this school, this class, again. Definitely made up for my first (and bad) experience here.
I did have a distracting group of girls I referred to as The Giggle Factory during third block and had to sit a student at a desk in the corner because she kept laughing when students read, refused to read, and played “footsies” with the student in front of her who also tried to read.
Plus, she made crowing sounds. CROWING SOUNDS.
I hope these adventures never end.
In this project the students discussed characterization and how the characters in a story create the story. I do not remember the book they read, but I thought their project was magnificent. This was created in a 3rd-6th grade Special Education classroom.
You can virtually do anything with this pyramid activity. For this class, the teacher had the students present their pyramids to their class and worked in pairs to encourage collaboration.