Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I am officially Mrs. B

I had always wondered what I would be like as a teacher. For one day, I got to find out. For one day, I am apparently a pretty quiet one. I have a reasonably good hunch that if I was left to my own devices for an extended period of time, I would have a somewhat different take on that, but for now... I am simply a substitute. The one who fills in when the 'real' teacher is gone. The one at whom the kids stare and think, "What's she going to be like?"

We got the work done, though I'm sure it's not as perfect as it would have been if the real teacher had been there. The kids probably got away with more than they would have if the real teacher had been there, too.

However... it was kinda cool to be called Mrs. B. I did have my FULL last name written up on the board along with the daily vocabulary words (more on those in a bit) when they walked in, and the whole group had an interesting time trying to pronounce it. After a few seconds of letting them mangle it every which way, I just grinned and told them to call me Mrs. B.

And Mrs. B I remained for the rest of the day.

There were only 10 kids in the class - nine initially, but one was tardy - so it was not like I was dealing with a full public-school-sized class, nor was I dealing with all the attitude that would have potentially come along with public school, so it wasn't a hard day. I can sure understand how some students fall through the cracks and some of them get completely bored, though. Some kids were consistently done first; others were consistently daydreaming and really not focusing at all. The kid who was arguably the smartest in the class was also the one up to the most devildom. In the end, I told a teacher friend of mine that it was like herding sheep - they CAN be taught, but they'd just rather go out to graze!


I didn't have to teach the entire day. The gym teacher took them for half an hour first thing in the morning, the Spanish teacher came in for half an hour in the morning, and the writing teacher held their attention for 45 minutes right after lunch/recess. The best part of all that wasn't sitting back and relaxing (though I did) but watching the kids. One of them consistently kept checking back to see what I was doing or how I was reacting to what the interim teacher was saying. One of them who had done a great job of listening to me all day would put his head down on his desk and thoroughly ignore anyone else. One of the girls was a little jumping box whenever the teacher was talking (which helped me understand why she was all the way at the back).

Apparently third-graders also LOVE to overthink things. Give them a list of words and say, "Use each word in a sentence," and they want to know the precise definition of each word before writing, and they want to know if they can use more than one word in a sentence, and they want to know... and they want to know... and they want to know. Give them a magnifying glass and two plants (radish and grass, specifically) and ask them to find some similarities and differences, and you then have to explain the precise way to do that. Deeeeep breathing required.

The final anecdote, and then I promise I'll be quiet and go away.

As I mentioned before, the daily vocabulary words were written on the blackboard first thing in the morning. These words came out of the book that they're reading, and they have 4-5 words each day. They write the words and definitions into a notebook and get tested on them at the end of the book. I read the chapter to the kids as they follow along, and as they hear a word, they raise their hands and we discuss possible definitions. At the end, the correct definition goes onto the board.

One of today's words was "massacre." As we got past the word, five hands went up. I called on one of the boys and asked him what he thought the word 'massacre' meant.

And, in all seriousness, he practically yelled, "That's eye make-... ohhhhhhhhhhhhh noooo... that's mascara."

Even *I* had a hard time not rolling on the floor over that one. It's hard to go from that to random death, but we did make the jump - eventually.

Such was my stint as a third-grade teacher!

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