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Day 112: Chemistry Subbing

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Day 112/180: subbing for chemistry

Subbed across the hall from my old class again. Of the five science teachers upstairs, only two were there, so I also helped with another chemistry class during a free period (the rest of his day was in-house period coverage). It’s strange to be a sort-of insider while subbing, but I was asked to peek in on the period coverage.

Just as a note: if a teacher’s sub plans specifically says, “NO FLAME TESTS”, don’t let students do the flame tests.

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Day 110: Math subbing

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Day 110/180: algebra II classes

I’ve subbed for this teacher before, and he requested me this time (after I did something smart: I went to visit him in person when I was in the building for another job). The kids in every class exclaimed “he’s never gone! It’s the first time this year!” This tells me a few things: 1. That I didn’t screw up last time, 2. That I wasn’t particularly remarkable last time, 3. That the classroom teacher approves of me enough to request me for his only day out. 
I’ll take it. 

For classroom teachers: please, please, please be sure what kind of schedule the day has, especially at the end of the year with lots of testing schedules and field trips and stuff. 

For subs: be sure to have something in your back pocket for when the lesson plans only cover a couple of classes because the teacher thought it was a different day (and/or ask a neighboring teacher for help). I got to give the kids a work day, and (minimally) help a number with their chemistry homework. 

Day 109: Chemistry Subbing

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Day 109/180: subbing for my old chemistry classes

I’ve missed them! And the squeals of “you’re back!” make me pretty grateful to have had such good kids.

They’re in the middle of a lab final, which is kinda where I left them in January. It’s pretty cool to see them going about their business, just knowing what to do (or pretending to). I don’t know if they realize how much they’ve learned, as they navigate titrations and molarity calculations. Makes me proud, even though I had nothing to do with their more recent chemical education. And my hands are super-extra clean after repairing a number of leaking sodium hydroxide burets.

And I also got to see my old colleagues and other faculty and staff. They’re good people.

As much as I’ve enjoyed subbing this year (and I’ve been pretty lucky with this sabbatical year), I’m ready to get back in the game. I’d really like a regularly scheduled job, full of “my” kids and enthusiastic co-workers to work with.

Day 108: Physics Subbing

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Day 108/180: subbing for a short day in physics

The sub assignment said math, but it was physics instead. No problem! I’ve seen versions of the one-battery-bulb-wire lab before. It was fun to see it in action. I also love watching normal classroom routines. It’s May, so every classroom knows what they’re to do with “warm ups” and “work in groups”. Expectations, when engrained, work so smoothly. I liked that they were to work together, but individually explain portions to other people and collect signatures. This worked pretty well, although a few kids just asked for anyone to sign their lab notebooks. Those who took it more seriously created some interesting dialogs about experiments, and even caught some mistakes between groups.

Teachers: For your subs, please list your schedule for the day, even if it’s a normal-schedule day. It’s good for subs to know, especially when it’s an alternating schedule.

Day 105: Chemistry and Math Subbing

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Day 105/180: subbing for chemistry and algebra

It’s so cool to sub for something I know. I love seeing how other people do chemistry, and how the kids process things. I mean, I know how my students sound when answering my questions, but I like hearing how other teachers’ students respond. It’s different keywords, different emphases on process, different overarching concepts (or discrete topics). Fodder for me to think about for coming years.

I always liked observing other classrooms. When student teaching, I loved watching how other people loved their subjects, especially non-science classes. I distinctly remember going to math classes, orchestra, and an immersion Japanese class. I’ve also found invaluable lessons from how other teachers treat their students, and how they show the wonders of their subjects.

Day 99: Half Physics

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Day 99/180: subbing for physics in the afternoon

Physics in the afternoon, especially on a nice, sunny day, is hard. Good thing that the kids were generally good and mostly focused. Studying gravity, the students had to work through a sheet and a PHeT planetary system simulation. It really helps a sub to know what the goals of the worksheet are, so as to better guide the kids. I didn’t do a good job of guiding the first class (and they weren’t very interested in listening to me, either). The second and third classes went better.

Day 97: Bad Days Subbing

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Day 97/180: Chemistry subbing and general ickyness

There’s nothing in particular wrong with this week for me. In the local schools, the stomach bug is running amok (I fortunately haven’t caught it). It’s raining (not surprising). My family is basically okay (no deaths, major illnesses, or other maladies). But it feels like a long week. I subbed for a chemistry teacher, whose family is having a nasty week. The chemistry classes, although grumbly about having worksheets, were fine. I, however, am rusty on electrochem. Did have some nice chats with various staff members.

Seems like there’s often a mood to school: the whole staff is having a bad week (or a good week), all of the kids are sick or stressed out or preparing for AP tests… It’s hard when there’s a bad week, particularly when it’s a pervasive thing.