Day 39: Substitute Teaching

Today I had a class of 3rd graders calling me “Miss Sullivan”. It was great. I also got to write on a white board. That was even better. Too bad I wasn’t teaching spelling or history. That would have been the best. Instead, I was teaching Math, and we were learning about pictographs. You remember, those graphs where one person really represents 1 million people? Yes, I’ll admit, I got lucky it was an easy topic I knew and not something like mixed fractions (I never liked those) or long division.

However, even thought the topic might have been easy to teach, it was the kids I was anxious about. Would they even listen to me? Would they point out all the wrong things I was doing? Would they be mean to each other? Or would they just sit there like angels and make me have to answer all of my own questions?

I knew that last scenario wouldn’t be the case when both the usual Math teacher and their classroom teacher warned me ahead of time about what a handful this bunch could be.  Uh-oh.

When the kids came into the room, the first thing I heard was “she’s just out of college” being whispered between the kids, and there was no misunderstanding their tone. What they were really saying was, “She has no idea what she’s doing”. This was when I braced myself for 50 minutes of chaos.

My favorite part about substituting for a class of kids was getting to see the different roles played by the students. Nothing has changed since I was in elementary school. There was “Goody-One”, the girl who thought she knew everything and wanted to answer every question. And right next to her, of course, was her side-kick “Goody-Two”, who was equally as smart but not confident about it like Goody-One. I also had “Shy”, the girl that doesn’t quite fit in, sits quietly, rarely raises her hand, and is unsure about herself.  And as always, I had two “All Over Boys”. You know, the ones that go from being really good one second to fooling around and talking with each other the next, to turning around and distracting the girls. And when they’re done they start the cycle over.  I must say, though, that the funniest role played was the “Queen Bee”, who loved to have all the attention and was usually the loudest, always wanting to be a part of every other role played by other students.  She was the one that thought raising your hand meant you could talk whether you were called on or not. Well, actually come to think of it, they all thought that. With the exception of Shy, obviously.

After the initial meet-and-greet and some soft instructing, we began our lesson. Well almost. Queen Bee first proceeded to tell me how their regular teacher did some things and how she thought we could do something different :). The rest of the class consisted of questions like, “Who can tell me how many people live in Alaska based upon the pictograph?” and “If you have twenty students that like pizza, how many circles would you put in the pizza box if each circle counts for 2 students?”  In between the questions, of course, I was repeatedly asking Queen Bee to sit back down, trying to engage Shy in the problems, getting the All Over Boys back on subject, trying not to let Goody One answer all the questions while encouraging Goody Two that her answer was right, and  thanking the book authors that they put the answers in the teacher’s edition, because my mind couldn’t do 3rd grade math as fast as the students were raising their hands.

All the distractions didn’t bother me, though. It was actually kind of funny seeing how these kids could and would think of and do anything to get off the subject. Just like what I did when I was in school.  Some of the time I humored their tactics, other times I just ignored them and kept going. They seemed to think that I wasn’t aware of what they were trying to pull.

All I have to say is God bless our elementary school teachers, because they sure put up with a lot!


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3 Comments on “Day 39: Substitute Teaching”

  1. Anne Stoltzfus Says:

    Did they really know you are just out of college? Kids always beg me to tell them how old I am and I refuse… I just let them guess, which results in one kid thinking I’m a teenager and another thinking I’m about ready to retire. Keep them guessing, it’ll make you laugh more :)

  2. Sarah…it’s Christina (Carmona) Hibbs! Loved this one…so fun to see an “outsiders” fresh perspective on the kids…it’s definitely so true!!

    Hey, if you ever want to come into my classroom (Kindergarten Autism Support) we can figure out a way to do that!! It may be fun to blog about…let alone be an experience ;)

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