Spending a week in the same school has allowed me to take notice of more than where the washrooms are and what time duty begins. I thought I'd share some of my reflections below...
1. Good Colleagues Transcend Time and Space
One of the things about home schooling is that it can be a lonely experience, especially if you're just doing it temporarily, and not really part of a "home schooling community", per say. It was so nice to reconnect with teachers and other ed workers whom I knew from the "old days" at the school. I even ran into some folks I have met at other schools over the past 17 years, who were now working at this school. It didn't take long to get comfortable with my "colleagues for a week", and lunch time chats in the staff room were great fun.
2. Teaching expository text begins in Grade One
Part of my gig was teaching Grade 1 and 2 Phys. Ed. and so I had the opportunity to be in a Grade One classroom several days when I went to pick up the kids. I was amazed and impressed with the scope and sequence of the teacher's oral language program, in particular, the strong foundation she was setting with persuasive text... each day she asked the students to think about how they felt about a particular issue, for example, whether Rainbow Loom, the popular new craze, was a distraction at school as some teachers complained, or a good thing, a tool to encourage fine motor skills, as parents countered.
The class engaged in academic debate (as academic as Grade ones can be!) about their stance, using specific reasons to back up their position.
I could only imagine the success their Grade 2 and 3 teachers would have with teaching expository writing, after a full year of being forced to think and communicate like this.
One of the things I'm always surprised at is the array of allegedly unique students we find in our classes. In my most recent school, we've had children who meow like cats, scratch like tigers, hoot like monkeys, pee their pants, and lie down on the floor and throw temper tantrums at random. And no, they weren't all in Kindergarten or participating in a Drama class! We were so convinced that "there was something in the water", that our school was "unique" in the kinds of strange creatures who lived there from Monday to Friday... and yet, within two days of being here at the school where I supplied this week, I met a gal in Grade 3 who is notorious for meowing.
What do you know? Every school has its cats!
4. Grade 8s sure are big and chatty.
I had the opportunity, one morning, to cover a Grade 8 Science class. Although I've taught intermediate students in the past, and have even been a VP at a K-8 school, it's been a few years since I've worked with students older than 10.
5. Sexism is alive and well in Grade 2!
After several days of teaching a variety of organized games and warm up activities, I handed out materials to groups of kids in one of my phys. ed. classes today, and invited them to create their own physical activity with rules and procedures. Within minutes, I had a little boy at my feet, pulling at my pant leg, complaining that he and his chum wanted to play a "boy" game, while the girl in his group insisted on creating a "girl" game. Seriously?!!
6. I am a Rockstar!
Or, at least, I look like one, according to a little friend in the same class, who also wanted to know whether I was a boy or a girl.
Well, this Rockstar has to get ready for her final day as "the supply teacher" here: I'm off to wrap up a literature-based math problem about cartonaros in Argentina with a Grade 3/4 class this morning, and then it's off to the library, to read Silver Birch contenders to various Kindergarten classes.
Despite the early mornings, cold walks and long bus rides, I'm grateful for this week of learning, of collegiality and of fun, and although I am looking forward to home schooling Alex and Simon for the rest of this year, I'll be eager to get back to the school "system" next year!