Saturday, May 5, 2012


I think one of the reasons I took a job with the school is that I've long wondered if I have what it takes to be a teacher and thought maybe I would pick up some hints just by being near those who do it daily.  I so admire those who do it well...

Last week, I got a chance to try it for myself - the school had a lot of teachers out sick, and the principal asked me to substitute for the computer class.

I had a chance to talk with the regular teacher, and got a copy of the assignment they were to work on that day.  It was a group project, and the students had already been given the gist of the assignment, so I figured all I had to really do was babysit.

I got there just as the bell rang (thank goodness I wasn't late!), and unlocked the classroom door.  These were seniors - relatively well behaved, and ready to listen.  I stood up front, introduced myself, had a couple of kids wake up the guy who was trying to get a quick nap in (twice), read them their assignment, and broke them into groups to work on the project.

So far, so good.

My tired friend had put his head down yet again, so I sat down near him, put my face about a foot from his closed eyes, and tapped him on the back of the shoulder.  He sure sat up fast!  He explained to me how he'd already started the assignment at home and had two of his three assigned slides done.  He didn't want to work on it during class because he couldn't quite remember where he'd left things.  I didn't buy it, and gave him several options of things he could work on without the slides in front of him.  He brightened up when I mentioned adding sound, and started to work.  A few minutes later, I came back around, (confiscating cell phone number one along the way - I didn't have to say anything, just held out my hand when I found her hitting the keypad.  She knew the rules.)  found him on e-mail, and told him to shut it down.  He minimized the browser tab; I told him to sign out.  Took twice more before he finally listened - all in good humor; I think he just wanted to see what I knew.

He stopped on his way out the door at the end of class, and asked me if I would stop by the class next week to see his slides; he'd bring them in for me to look at them.  I promised I would (and I will!) - and figured I'd done well by him.

My success with him was balanced by the wall I hit with one of the girls.  I'd initially told each group to grab two laptops, figuring they would work on the project together.  When I saw her working on a paper from another class, I asked her why she wasn't working on the assigned project.  She smartly reminded me I'd said two laptops per group, and two others in her group had them.  I quickly amended my restriction, since they weren't going to work together, and told her to get one from the cart for herself.  When I came back a few minutes later, she had her cell phone tethered to the PC, and was checking Facebook.  I held out my hand for it, and she made a big production out of locking the screen while scowling and muttering at me before handing it over.  When I came back to her less than three minutes later, she had e-mail up.  I sat down in the chair next to her and told her to shut it down.  She defiantly looked at me and said, "it ain't hurtin' you none.  I don't see no blood.  Why can't I just leave it up?"  (Here, she gets points for originality...)  I told her that no, I wasn't hurt - but she needed to shut it down anyhow, so she did.

As class was drawing to a close, she stood with the rest.  She looked so sad that I patted her on the back of the shoulder without thinking.  She stiffened and said she didn't like to be touched when she was in that mood.  I immediately apologized - I WAS wrong to reach out without her permission - and told her why I'd touched her.  She just looked straight ahead and didn't acknowledge my response.  I gave her back her cell phone, which she took without looking at me, and she marched out of the classroom without a backwards glance.  ** sigh **  Poor thing.  She must have been deeply troubled to be so rude to a well-meaning, albeit clumsy, stranger.

I have spent some time replaying the hour, reviewing what went right and what went wrong.  Given the givens at the school, I'm sure I'll be asked to fill in again - and hope to learn a little each time about how to do it right.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you're a natural. I hope you do get more opportunities - for your sake and the sake of the students.