Saturday, October 19, 2013

Subbing - German - Day 3

I was anticipating that the third day of subbing with no lesson plans and two (of three) extremely disrespectful classes would be even worse than the second day.  Only, it wasn't. 

The upper level French teacher had asked me to sub for her for the first three classes.  She assured me that they were just taking quizzes, so they would be fine with a sub who, for all practical purposes, knew no usable French.  [One semester of college French more than 40 years ago doesn't go very far.]  And I knew she was actually an excellent teacher.  Her room was across the hall from the office where my non-existent teacher's desk was and I could hear her leading her classes - excellent accent, no nonsense teaching style, but very supportive, too.  So I took her first three hours.  They were, in fact, fine.  The only slight glitch was that the office had given me her sub folder, which was supposed to contain attendance rosters, didn't.  So I just had the kids sign their names on a sheet of paper.  I didn't have time to go down and back up at least 3 sets of stairs to get to the office, so they had to deal with the attendance problem. 

Then came my first (and second worst - according to the previous day) class.  Dread.  I had decided that today, as a follow up to the lesson yesterday, I would have them do a lesson from the textbook.  Yesterday, according to a suggestion from the other German teacher, I had had them make a poster of a family.  So, I chose a lesson from the book which discussed a family tree and how to describe various people in the family.  At least there would be some continuity of lessons.  I did not hand back the posters from the previous day - I left them for the new teacher.  This class had 2 extremely talkative students, who felt it was their jobs to regale the rest of the students with jokes and comments whenever they felt like it - which was pretty much constantly.  There were also several hanger-on kids, who joined in the fun whenever they felt like it would provide an additional amusing annoyance for the sub.  Again, there were also a large number of absences - nearly 1/3 of 30-some kids.  My tactic this time was different.  I separated the two continuous talkers - and got disrespectful protests from the student I asked to move.  I told all of the students that they were not obligated to listen, but that they were also not allowed to disrupt the learning of those who wanted to get the lesson.  I had to do this several times and repeat it at various times during the 50 minute lesson, but eventually, the two talkers subsided a little and I got to the lesson.  I just followed the textbook, picking the sections that required little student interaction (which I could not risk) and having the students who were actually making an effort write their answers down.  I required every student to hand in a paper at the end of the class on their way out, with at least their name on it.  At the end of the class, I was shaking with nerves and suppressed anxiety, but at least I felt that I had accomplished something and the students who had participated had had a productive lesson.   

Then came lunch and a chance to calm down a bit.  The second German class was the class that actually tried, so I wasn't particularly worried about it.  The second German class was, indeed, much better.  It was almost fun.  In addition to the same lesson I had given for the first class, I read a little bit of Babar, in German.  I didn't have to spend all my energy trying to control the class.  I am glad this class will have the new woman as their teacher.  She will do well by them.

Then came my "planning" period.  I graded the papers of the first two German classes and updated my notes for the new teacher.  But the biggest challenge was still coming up and I was not looking forward to it.  Fortunately, it was in the great French teacher's room (who was back from her morning meeting).  I explained to her the disrespect I had had to deal with the previous day in relation to her special chairs, so she casually sat at her desk working for a few minutes as the class started,  It was a great help.  There were around a dozen kids absent from this class of 38, so that helped.  The same lesson.  But, for some reason, this class was not disruptive.  There were around a dozen students who absolutely refused to do any of the work, but they didn't interrupt and there were 4 or 5 students who were actually participating and learning.  I count that as success. 

And that was the end of the day.  I cleaned up and then went home. 

It occurred to me on the way home that bullying can actually happen in a way that isn't normally addressed.  Students can bully teachers, too.  These two classes were actually bullying the sub - verbally and emotionally. 

But it also occurred to me that the suggestions of the other German teacher were probably wrong.  He didn't provide me with any lesson plans, but said that I could do review of letters, numbers, colors, body parts, etc.; and I could do an art project with them.  Last on his list of suggestions was to do a lesson from the book, but there was no indication where in the book the students might be.  Given the chaotic nature of the first quarter for these students, I think I should probably have started out with the book - no matter where.  They needed the structure and assurance that they were actually supposed to learn something and that they were capable of doing so.  Art projects and relatively unstructured review made them view the classes as just place holders, until the real stuff came along. 

Oh, well.  Live and learn.

But one thing that gives me a little satisfaction:  after hearing the other German teacher speaking German, I have the smug knowledge that, even if my grammar is a bit lacking, I have a MUCH better German accent than he does.  I still sound like an American when I speak German, but not as much as he did. 

No comments:

Post a Comment