Wednesday December 7, 2016
Substitute Teaching Vignettes #2
(I have begun substitute teaching)
I only have the first graders for half an hour before they'll go to lunch. They're going to do Prodigy Math on their iPads for that time. One girl is a budding SJ temperament in pint-sized form. She takes me in hand, making sure that I know what the rules are and how things work. The class doesn't need a sub; they have "Nellie".
One girl is having trouble logging into the iPad. It keeps telling her the user name or password are incorrect. She's sure she entered them correctly; It worked yesterday. We get her card with the usernames and passwords written on it. I watch her type. She's entering what's on the card. No good.
Nellie comes over to help troubleshoot. She notes that this girl, "Tanya", has a simple username, just TanyaB. Nellie's username includes numbers, Nellie formulates a theory that perhaps there should be numbers in the user name. To test the theory, she moves around the room, checking other kids. She comes back to tell me that two boys who also have only letters in their user names have successfully logged in. It was a good theory, but it's not the answer.
We reached lunch time before we could figure out why Tanya can't log in. We agree that the regular teacher will have to contact the school's tech support.
Nellie will be a wonder some day. I hope she goes into programming.
1) It's library day. One girl, "Belinda", has forgotten her library book and may not check out a new one until she returns the previous one. Upon hearing this, Belinda bursts into soft, gulping tears. When she is somewhat coherent, sh says perhaps the book is in her backpack. The librarian says that Teacher (that's me) will go with her to the classroom to check. I say "Would you like a friend to go along? Pick a friend." This turns out to be The Best Decision I will make all day.
Belinda points, tearfully, at another girl. "Me?!", says the girl. She stands up straighter and takes Belinda in hand (literally). They leave the library. I follow, nothing more than an adult escort, as the other girl keeps up a soft stream of confidence-building talk. "Don't worry, Belinda, it's OK. There's nothing to cry about. We'll look in your backpack." We get to the classroom. I wait by the door. They check the backpack. No book. "Could it be in your desk?" asks the other girl, looking. No book.
"I guess it's not here," says the second girl, "but at least we tried." As they cross the room back to me she's saying, "If you bring it tomorrow, Ms. S can take it back to the library for you." (Then , softly, to me "We didn't find it".) We walk back to the library, with me, once more, a silent escort behind the two girls.
2) After Library, we're doing vocabulary. I'm standing by Belinda who appears to be painfully shy, with not-so-good language skills. Her paper is empty and she looks lost. I ask questions, make suggestions. She stares at the paper and mumbles. It seems like trying t converse with a stump. Oh Belinda...
3) At 10:30 (after recess), all of the upper classes (3rd, 4th, and 5th grades) have running club today. They each have an index card with their name written on it. After each lap, the PE teach makes a mark on the card.
I'm standing on the opposite side of the school yard from the PE teacher, watching to take sure the kids keep moving and don't take a long conversation break at the water fountain. I see Belinda, running past, with that slightly odd sideways-kicking run some younger kids have. Her jacket is hanging off her arms. Her eyes are bright and she's smiling broadly. On one of her passes, I catch her eye.
She stops and approaches. Silently, she shows me her card. She's done 10 laps so far. "Great job!", I say, "do another one!" and off she goes. After that, she makes it a point after each lap to show me her card. 11, 12, 13. She's having a great time. Perhaps not a stump after all. Just a different temperament.