Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Urban middle school ramblings....

I have a million things I could be blogging about, but I just don't feel like it. I'm feeling very blah.

I'm subbing today, and I'm really bored because they're writing in their journals and then watching the end of The Polar Express. I'm also giving myself a headache because I've got one eye on the computer and the other eye on them. Ok, not literally. That would look crazy. It feels like it though.

Anyway, I'm just going to ramble. Go ahead and enjoy. Or leave now if you don't like rambling.

Today I'm back at the same middle school I have been at since Friday. It's another very urban school, which are my favorite schools. I love these kids. They're not touting the latest iPhone or iPad or wearing an outfit more expensive then my monthly salary (ok, maybe that's dramatic, but I wonder sometimes!) they're, in my eyes, completely normal. Being able to buy whatever you want or ask your parents for whatever you want is not average, and that kind of privilege just gets on. my. last. nerve. Don't get me wrong, I'm not angry with those kids that are wealthy, they have no idea how lucky they are. You can't be mad at someone for something they have no idea about. You can however be mad at the fact that innocent kids are growing up without as many resources or basic needs. And those kids? They're well aware of what they don't have.

These kids make me happy, but sad and sometimes angry all at the same time. Sometimes they're downright rude and disrespectful, but most of the time? If I tell them they're rude, they will shape right up. They hate to be told they're rude. Tell a suburban 8th grader she's rude, and she will probably smirk at you. Then smile.

Don't tell me that wouldn't piss you off.

I love being able to bounce around between districts and learn from multiple kinds of classrooms. Sometimes I think I'm getting just as much out of subbing, as I am from my classes. Wait, I know I am getting just as much out of it. Of course, there are days where I spend the majority of my time reading (for fun) or studying for my own classes while students watch a movie or work independently. That classroom management experience does not come on it's own though. Most of the time students are not going to automatically work for a substitute teacher.

The other day I was in the teachers lounge and another sub was asking me how I establish control right away. I had a really hard time articulating how I do it. I don't really know what I do. I do know, however, what I don't do.

I don't raise my voice. I don't make them do anything I wouldn't do. I treat them as adults (they're in middle school or high school!) until they've lost that privilege. I'm never rude first. I don't talk down to them. I don't tell them to do something without telling them why. I don't frown the entire day. I don't act all secretive or like things are confidential. I rarely send students to the office.

Which all translates to...

I make them feel as important as I possibly can. I'm constantly smiling and try to make myself approachable. I make time for a little fun. I remind them that if they are cool with me, I will be cool with them. (I say that line a lot). I use positive reinforcement sparingly and I make it meaningful.

The school I'm at today though? Two kids I have in class are on house arrest. One was talking about a time he brought a gun to school. Most of them do not come with paper and pencil. I doubt most of them have had breakfast. Several of them look like they haven't slept. I choose to be here though.

Not because I have to either. A district in the suburbs called me three times this morning and I love that district. There they can take the content up to a higher level with the students instead of keeping it at just the basic level. The teachers are extremely enthusiastic and can try new things. The technology is top of the line, and there are more resources than you could possibly need.

It feels good to have other substitute teachers ask me what my tricks are. It feels good to be there for students that may not get very much support at home. It feels good when they remember me, and want me to be their permanent teacher.

I may leave at the end of the day feeling exhausted and mentally drained from having to stay on my toes literally every second of the day, but 99.9% of the time, I leave feeling like I at least made some sort of impact on their day, week, month or possibly their life.


Taylor said...

Enjoyed reading your post!! Have a great rest of your day!

Jackie K said...

I am a substitute as well and I loves reading this post. I completely agree with you as well. I find myself in the more urban schools in my area. I never would have guessed that I would prefer that, but it seems to be working out that way. It seems like in other schools you are more of a fixture in the classroom when you come in for a day. I've found the urban schools tend to appreciate you more, staff and students included. It's always nice to hear another substitute's opinion!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

I used to teach school swim lessons to K - 7th graders and omg the 7th graders were yippy. I did not have your patience though and would usually just kick them out of the pool ;) It sounds like you're a great teacher!!

Lesli said...

Good for you, Amber! That is what makes you a great teacher!

Stephany said...

Oh, I love this. Love, love, love this. :) I wish you were my teacher!

I have a pair of 16-year-old cousins who grew up getting anything their little hearts desired. Now, my grandparents (whom they live with & who raise them) don't have the money to give in to their every whim and they don't like it one bit. They are disrespectful, rude, and mean. It makes me so angry but you know, if they hadn't been given everything they wanted when they were little (as I wasn't), they wouldn't be so entitled now. It's maddening.

I went off on a tangent in this comment, ha! I think you probably learn MORE from substitute teaching than the classroom learning. Hands-on experience is the best way to learn, especially teaching!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

This is a great post. For a while I thought I wanted to be a teacher, because I wanted to make an impact. But I heard stories about how hard it was and how some days you leave feeling like you are trying so hard and it's just not working. I am glad that you are there for these kids! I salute you! You are braver and more patient than I am and thank goodness there are people out there like you, who treat ALL kids like adults but still keep them in line.

Susan said...

Just from reading this post, I think you will be a super teacher. If you can sub successfully, your own classroom will be a breeze!