High school vs. junior high


Going into this substitute gig I expected to like teaching junior high/middle school kids. Alex is in junior high. Sara would be in middle school if our system was set up that way. I’m familiar with that age. And that’s what I taught the first two days. Mostly it was good, too. Sixth hour in both cases got a little hairy (the first day was worst). Yesterday, the school had a pep assembly in fifth hour, so I got the (mostly) remedial group after a pep assembly for sixth hour. There was really no way that class was going to be controlled completely.

Today I was at the older of our two local high schools. Wow. The difference between the seventh graders I had earlier and the sophomores I had today was incredible. I had four hours of a class called “Careers” and one called “Business Law,” both taught by one of the coaches. I was told by a student that he is a “lazy teacher.” Basically, I loaded a VCR and played a 27-minute video that nobody watched. Everyone played on the computers for an hour, then went to a real class. (I didn’t play on the computer. As a sub, I don’t have a password to log on.)

I was asked to cover for another teacher during my planning period in sixth hour. The class was “Intro to Speech and Debate.” Guess what we did. We watched Remember the Titans. Yeah. Having seen the movie, I mostly watched the kids. Two girls cuddled on a wide recliner. Another girl continually combed the hair of the girl in front of her with her fingers. Two guys played chess while two others watched, one listening to his MP3 player. Another girl walked around the room, going from guy to guy to talk for a while. A few watched the movie. Pretty much everyone paid attention to the one part the teacher wanted them to watch.

I guess since I didn’t have to call the office, or the cops, during the business classes, the school liked me. They asked me to come back and teach an agriculture class on Wednesday.

Teach. Well, you know … take roll and load the VCR. That seems to be the main role of substitute teachers. I did give a test today, and made the decision to turn yesterday’s sixth hour assignment into a class project because nobody was going to sit still and do those six pages on their own. What I actually did today was a lot of reading of John Farris’s Son of the Endless Night. I highly recommend the book, so far.

Last school item. A student gave me a piece of gum today. When I was in high school 20-something years ago, gum was still forbidden. It certainly wasn’t something you flaunted to the point of offering it to a teacher, even if the teacher was a substitute.

In other news, there’s really nothing to report. Unless you want to hear about the e-mail I sent to the president of the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc.,  complaining about the organization letting AuthorHouse sponsor the New Members Reception at our annual conference. “Welcome to OWFI. Come to our New Member Reception, sponsored by a vanity press. Paying writers are the same as paid writers.” Yeah, that screams professional writers’ organization.

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7 thoughts on “High school vs. junior high

  1. One of my more memorable moments in Public High School as a sub. Someone asked me if I liked teaching.
    “I don’t teach,” I said. “I’m a glorified babysitter.”
    The Vice-Principal looked at me. “Glorified?”
    Yeah, right. Just a babysitter…

  2. For me the experience has been a bit different.
    Since January I have worked close to 100 supply days.
    I have shown a movie maybe 10 times.
    The teachers in this board don’t want, or don’t have time, to waste a day. Plus in my board 90% of teachers had to supply teach before they were given regular jobs. As a result, I am usually expected to actually teach a lesson. This, for the most part, makes my day much better and it is easier to keep the kids engaged. Plus I tend to go back to the same school a few times. So at the end of a given month the kids just think I’m part of the staff.
    Don’t get me wrong, I have had the classes from hell and it is usually last period of the day.

    • Well, to be fair, the first movie I showed was an educational video on the scientific method, which is what the class was studying at the time. In the other class, the teacher wanted to kids to pay special attention to the Gettysburg scene of “Remember the Titans,” probably as a lesson in rhetoric (debate class).
      But the other class … the video was a made-for-school video about how to interview and do well at entry level jobs, which I guess is the aim of the “Careers” class. But, well … I showed you some of the Oklahoma ads where the schools were looking for coaches, teaching field open. I think that’s how classes like “Careers” get created.
      I get to teach a high school agriculture class on Wednesday. I wonder how many kids are enrolled in that just to learn how to grow pot in their closets.

  3. My brother-in-law was once a sub at a difficult school. He asked the class, “What do you do?” and they answereds, “we watch movies!” He asked the other teachers, and they said, yup, we show movies. The next morning, as he left, he remembered he needed a movie. Without thinking, he grabbed a copy of SLIME CITY (back int he bad old days of VHS). Word quickly spread that “Mr. Falgiano’s showing porn!”–but he was never even questioned about it, because the school was in such dire need of teachers…

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