Monday, September 27, 2010

Why So Serious?

Substitute Teaching is teaching me to not take myself so seriously.

On Thursday, I was a roving sub. I went from room to room for half an hour each while the teacher went to a meeting.

In some classrooms, the class was at P.E. so the teachers had me grade spelling tests while they were away. One teacher had me make a bunch of copies. In two rooms, there were student teachers so all I did was sit there and grade papers so that there would be another teacher in the room.

The kids were fourth to sixth graders, and in several classes, the kids graded each other’s math assignments while I read them the answers.

My favorite was a fourth grade class toward the end of the day. My main job was to split the students into their reading groups. Naturally, chaos ensued. The students were confused as to why they had a sub all of a sudden. Apparently, the teachers did not make this clear to them.

No one wanted to get into their assigned groups. The teacher had grouped them by the rows they were in. The kids were all over the room, asking if they could be in a friend’s group or telling another kid he couldn’t be in their group. Some students had no idea what group they were in.

In my loudest, most authoritative voice, I ordered everyone to get back into their seats. Then I told them to look at who was in their row so they would know who was in their group.

“How old are you?” someone asked.
“You look like you’re 18!” said a curly-haired girl in the back.

For some reason, I didn’t care what they thought. In any other circumstance, this bugs me.

I had the groups go to different parts of the room to do their reading. This was difficult to get them to do as well. One group tried to sit underneath the teacher’s desk. One group kept asking if they could go in the closet. At least two groups were sitting down.

“They’re making fun of your name!” curly-haired girl said, pointing to the group sitting against the wall.

Again, this doesn’t bother me. “That’s okay,” I said.

“Your name is funny!” said the blonde haired boy sitting against the wall. The kid next to him laughed in agreement.

I just smiled. “I think it’s pretty funny too.”

Then, I went from group to group and made conversation, asking what the story was about and such. The kids would talk about random things and I simply went along with it, all the while, redirecting them to their books and fielding their protests about having read this story three times already.

“Miss Wieser!” said curly-haired girl when I came around to her group. “He took my turn! I was supposed to read next.”

“Well, then you can take his turn,” I said.

“No,” she said. “He took my turn.”

“You can take both their turns,” I responded.

This time the girl didn’t say anything. She just grinned and laughed.

Overall, this was my favorite class of the day. I felt like once I stopped taking myself seriously and balanced my serious teacher attitude with speaking to the kids on their level, I was able to control them better and gain their respect.

I noticed that in classes where I was all business/completely serious, I didn’t connect with the kids as much. It makes me realize how important humor is in the learning/teaching process.

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