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Day 87: Meeting Expectations

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Day 87/180: subbing for math, thinking about what’s expected of a sub

Subbed for algebra II classes today. Kids were pretty good, mostly focused. The teacher had left very detailed sub plans with plenty of stuff for the the students to work on, including checking old homework, a guided introduction of new material, making their own “graphical organizer” (which was really a fill-in-the-blank notes sheet) of found patterns in exponent expressions, and starting a new homework assignment.

What was different about this day was that the teacher, without knowing who his sub would be, assumed that I’d actually teach. Usually, most teachers assume that the sub will know nothing of the subject matter but can manage a class (and probably the DVD player). One of the reasons I take mostly math and science assignments is that I can actually teach much of the material. I now have a few teachers who request me because they know I can teach their material, so they don’t lose a class day. This vote of confidence is nice, but I know most teachers can’t bet on their random subs to do much.

Similarly, students assume that subs know nothing, and expect a movie day with relatively lax classroom management enforcement.

This isn’t to say that today’s students did nothing during the period; to the contrary, they’re pretty trained to work on their assignments. However, they didn’t trust me to help them, even when I asked how they were doing.

I’m sure these students are doing just fine in their class. They have a known schedule with known daily procedures, and seemed pretty content. But, this type of compliant-yet-repetitive class makes me wonder just how far these kids could go if they had a teacher like Justin (who works like crazy for his kids) or Fawn (who’s amazing in her kids’ discussions) or Julie (who has great “lab” ideas), Sam (for his depth and thoroughness)… or other MTBoS peeps as the regular teacher.

…but then, I probably would have a tough time subbing for a missing, beloved teacher.

Postscript: Based on one day of subbing for this teacher, it is completely unfair of me to say any or all of the above applied to this particular teacher: I don’t know what the normal class looks like. But it’s a pattern for many, many classes in a high school.

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