Thursday, March 7, 2013

Guide to Being a Substitute Teacher: Bring a Book

I'm starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I'm not cut out for teaching. See, I have all of these amazing skills, like being able to connect to different types of learners, see what sort of support they need, and craft engaging lesson and unit plans for them. I'm also pretty darned good at analyzing how successful or unsuccessful my teaching methods are, and then making the necessary adjustments. I pay attention to national standards. I pay attention to school policies. I pay attention to what other teachers are doing.

With all of these skills present in a substitute teacher, including the motivation and need to be useful, what do you think CPS does? They assign me to cover 2 periods in the morning and nothing else. Yep, I spent my day assisting a scheduled guest speaker for 2nd and 3rd period, then scrambling, no, begging, for someone to give me something useful to do. I approached teachers, security guards, and janitors, but everyone told me, "Why don't you just relax? It's an easy day for you, so enjoy it." I don't want to relax. I don't want an easy day. I want the stress, the challenge, and the satisfaction that comes with the territory. I want to work, dammit. Why else would I have struggled through two years of graduate school? So I can relax?                                  

I ended up spending 5 hours in the library, scanning and labeling textbooks. Oh, and I read.

So, maybe I'm not cut out for subbing. What is substitute teaching? At this point, I'm going to loosely define it as a waste of everyone's time. It's not like babysitting because students aren't babies. They're young adults, struggling to grow up. They need role models; adults they can trust and rely on to steer them in the direction they want to go, or very often, provoke them to think about where they want to go by asking pertinent questions and challenging them in ways they hadn't thought of. I tend to believe that everyone, regardless of age, wants these things. I sure do, but subbing doesn't allow for those opportunities.

CPS is looking to shut down 54 schools due to "inefficiency," but maybe they need to take a closer look at how they're utilizing the resources they actually have first.

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