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saturday, may 14, 2005

be careful what you ask for - you just may get it. remember i said i was worried about not having any work towards the end of the school year? not a concern any more. now i'm just worried about surviving. on the 5th i was handed a class to finish out for the year. their regular teacher is on leave taking care of her sick husband and has been since spring break. they've had 2 subs in there since - one of which i gather was chased out and the other who couldn't handle them. you can imagine the mess i landed in when i said i'd take care of it.

first, the kids. completely. out. of. control. i had teachers tell me before i even walked into the room for this class that they were glad i was taking over even though it meant i was no longer available to sub for them. the classes have been so loud that the teachers on the opposite end of the hallway could hear them through 2 closed doors. kids were walking out whenever they wanted. 90% of them weren't doing any work because there was no insistence they do so and no indication it would count for a grade. this is a home ec class and one of the grade levels had gotten so bad with their behavior that they lost their cooking privileges. heck, last monday some idiots decided to try to burn down the school or something - they set a pot holder on top of a hot stove burner. the smoke was just noxious.

second, the stuff i needed to manage the class - attendance sheets, sub plans, worksheets - were all buried in a pile of paper that included the above, finished and ungraded assignments, graded assignments, and just about everything else related to running that classroom. i spent my first 2 days in the classroom and all last weekend trying to organize the office and the paper work - at least to find the stuff i needed and get the old assignments sorted out. if the previous sub hadn't had some time and come in to help out a little, i doubt i would have ever gotten through all the other stuff in the pile.

third, the original teacher left plans, but the content wasn't enough to cover the class period (which is an hour and a half) and didn't give alternatives for my 8th graders who can't do any cooking. so i've had to go through the lesson plans and beef them up some. fortunately, i can work on those a night or two before and it's fine.

all of this, plus grading the work i've given them, plus doing seating charts and making name tags for their tables, and so on and so forth, has taken up almost every moment of my time, both at the school and at home. i've sorted out the assignments by class and assignment and placed them in clearly labeled stacks in the room office. the last sub and i sorted out the work sheets so now i can give kids makeup work. i've been working through the lesson plans as they come along, creating new worksheets to make them easier for the kids to do (and to avoid the whole "i don't have any paper" problem - now, the whole "i need a pencil" problem is another can of worms), and grading anything i assigned. i'm usually kept up until 2:30 or 3 a.m. trying to manage all this stuff. i'm at a point now that i should be pretty much caught up by the end of this weekend and it should get a little easier on the management/grading side of things.

i have 5 of the 6 classes finally falling in line with the new rules and doing the work. there's still issues, and will be until the end of the school year - partly because it is so close, but things are definitely better for me in the classroom. and teachers are telling me that all the classes, including my still out of control class, are doing much better. the amount of encouragement i'm getting from other teachers is almost scary because it indicates to me that the classes were a lot worse than i thought they were, and were a lot worse than they were the first day i walked into the classroom (which was pretty bad). part of that, i'm sure, is that most the kids know me. i've done enough subbing that i've met most, if not all, the kids in the school.

i've set up new assigned seats, listed new and fairly strict rules on the board, and done some rearranging of the classroom. "problem" kids have all been separated from one another as much as possible and placed in seats where i can keep an eye on them. with the assignments sorted out, i was able to make a display on the wall outside the class about who had turned in what so kids who are missing a number of assignments can look into making them up. on my board in the classroom, i have a spot where i show how each class is doing on assignments - the top score, the number of a's, b's, c's, and 0's. i've told them i can't give them their grade for the class at this time, but i can tell them where they stand with the work they've done for me.

as a result of all this work, however, i'm hardly online at the moment and haven't done any writing or revising in 2 weeks. my last day is the 25th. after that i'll probably sleep for a week. then i might be able to get back into writing and being around and doing all my projects.

until then, i'll be scarce. pray for me. that one class that's still not falling into place? there's some skeery kids in there! i'm grateful for all the encouragement and kudos from the teachers, but right now all i want to do is survive the class.

however, on the note of kudos, this may lead into a permanent placement for me. the principle came by and asked about the display on the wall - asking if i had set that up. i told her i had and she complimented me on it and said something about possibly encouraging other teachers to do something similar. she too told me i was doing a fantastic job, so i said something like "keep me in mind when you're hiring full time - i'll be turning in my resume as soon as i have my pI scores." she asked me what i was going to teach and i told her language arts and we had quite a discussion about it. i even mentioned that i was a published writer and she sounded like she really liked that. so hopefully taking on this one tough class has garnered me an opportunity to get a full time, provisional position for next year.

one can hope, anyway. :)

word of the moment: posset

to cause to curdle or coagulate; to pamper with delicacies

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