Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Adventures in Subbing

I worked as a substitute last week at a middle school that had many of my previous students. It was a good day - not just because it was a minimum day and I didn't know it! The first class came in and started giving me looks and all sat down. The bell rang and I said, "Listen, I'm not a sub, I'm a teacher. I know what you're doing, so get back to your own seats." They all just stared at me. I told them I was going to count to five and they would be in their own seat. They stared at me until I got to three and then 75% of the class ran as fast as they could to their own seat. I didn't know enough of them to be sure that they had been trying to fool me, but I had a feeling... one of those teacher feelings that are always right.

Later I had to sacrifice one kid - he wouldn't do his work and was testing me to see if I'd really send him to the principal. The minute I did, all the other kids started working! As a treat, I let them see my blue hair at the end of class.

The middle school has a lot of classrooms - in fact, most of them - with no windows. I've never taught in a classroom with no windows, and I haven't been in one since I had an organic chemistry lab in the basement in college. It's horribly depressing and I'm not sure how the teachers or the students manage to teach or learn in a room with zero natural light, all day.

The other thing I couldn't figure out is what these things on the wall were. It looks like they are bulletin board material and you could staple things on them, but they're about eleven feet high. Any ideas?

I don't mind subbing when there are former students of mine in the classroom. The problem I am having is that the district doesn't want to pay me for some reason. The grouchy sub lady who yelled at me when I canceled a job because I had a fever somehow hasn't been turning in my time sheets. More on that later. Right now I'm just glad I'm not teaching.


Patrick said...

Those "11-foot high bulletin boards" look like sound-proofing material.

B said...

Oh good, the mystery might be solved! Is there a reason why it's in little squares and not just across the wall? Or better yet, in the wall with the insulation? Just curious.

Jonathan said...

More specifically, they're acoustical panels: not to prevent noise transmission between rooms, but to keep your room from being too acoustically "live".

It's in individual panels rather than all across the walls to control the exact level of damping. Too many panels could make it too dead. You want some sound to carry -- for instance, you want the students to hear when you're talking. But when, say, they're working in groups, you don't want it to sound like Grand Central Station.

Jonathan said...

A question for you -- you say you "let them see [your] blue hair at the end of class." Did you have it disguised before then? A hat? A wig?

B said...

see, I learned something! They're certainly ugly panels though.

I had a hat on because I wasn't sure the principal and other teachers would appreciate the blue hair.