Monday, March 4, 2013


Just when life starts to get stagnant, out of nowhere, suddenly you are hit with a curve ball; that is where I am right now. Don't get me wrong the constant sickness that has been in and out of this house has kept things... interesting... to put it nicely.

I have been substitute teaching for 2 years now. Last school year I got called a whopping 10 times ALL SCHOOL YEAR. Needless to say that year was discouraging at best. This year things have been better. I signed up for a service through the website where teaching jobs are posted and now I have access to several jobs pretty much every day. If the kids could stay healthy for a whole week straight I could even work 5 days a week.

I LOVE teaching, even when I get really rotten classes. I actually like the newness of going to a new class each day. I am learning so much by being exposed to snippets of other teachers’ classroom environments. I am getting a chance to see lots and lots of behavior management techniques, teaching styles, materials, references, etc on an almost daily basis.

Deep down I really desire my own group of kids that after 9 months will have carved a forever spot somewhere in the depths of my heart that when I see them years down the road the heart strings will pull and I will get to remember all the fun we had when they were just in ___ grade. I want this. I want to teach and inspire children. I want to nurture and challenge them. I want to be there to support them and cheer them on as they develop skills and independence. I want to sit in an empty room on the last day of school and wipe away a tear as "my kids" leave for the last time.

This brings me to the massive curve ball that is hurtling at me. Do I catch it or do I let it pass and take the out? I have been called by a school I work at to take a long term subbing job with a classroom of VERY challenging students. The students being challenging doesn't worry me. I will just apply some "tough love" and give them a nice solid schedule with lots of predictability and that should bring most of them back in line. What worries me is the 7 IEP's in a class of 22, and the other 8-10 who are at risk and are not meeting potential for whatever reason. I have no experience with IEP's, modifications, accommodations, the laws behind documentation, etc. I know that if I take a job at the beginning of the year I will likely face all of this as well, but I would at least have the full 9 months to work with the students. There are only 3 months left in the school year and these kids are nowhere near their goals for this year. They have fallen so far off track that it will take a miracle to get them back on the right track.

Do I have enough knowledge to perform that miracle? Will I have enough energy and stamina to give 1,000% all day with these very needy kids and then come home to grade assignments, analyze the data and use that to write effective lessons plus keep up with my responsibilities as a mom? Do I want to take a chance and risk putting these kids farther behind and potentially causing them (not all) to be retained because they didn't gain enough knowledge? Can I handle the guilt of letting them down? I know their gaps in learning are not my fault, but will I be able to remember this if they are retained?

As the hands of the clock continue to click closer to midnight I must sign off as my alarm is unrelenting and is scheduled to go off at an ungodly early hour.


When I first wrote this is was 4 days ago and there were still so many unanswered questions. So many what-ifs. I was tossing around so much self-doubt and so many insecurities that I almost forgot why I spent 10 years in college earning not only my bachelors degree in education but also my master's degree in education. Why I studied tirelessly, why I research endlessly, why I wanted to become a teacher in the first place. I want to teach so that I can give children a small token of my wisdom, I can be their safe haven when the rest of their life is crappy, and I can be the force that pushes them to keep trying and not lose faith in their abilities or themselves. I have looked back over my many years of education from as far back as I can remember and I think about some of the great teachers who have touched my life in ways that they will never know (maybe they had an inkling, maybe not). I became a teacher to have the same impact on children that so many great teachers had on me.

I decided yesterday that even though I may not be perfect that's ok. These kids do not need a perfect teacher, they need a real teacher who will see them for who they are, challenges and all and who will accept, guide, and love them. Someone who is endlessly patient (or at least willing to try to be endlessly patient), but consistent, firm and fair. The biggest strength that I can say I bring to the table is that I am firm, fair and consistent. I set expectations high, but will extend my hand to help struggling children reach those expectations. I decided to take the long term subbing position. The school is going to wait until summer to make a decision about hiring the new full time teacher to allow me time to get my feet wet, get a feel for the school and decide if it is a good match for me before I apply for full time. The next 3 months may lead me in a different direction, who knows. I don't. I may discover that children who come with a lot of emotional and educational baggage are exactly the kids that I need to be teaching. I don't know. The one thing I do know. Stay or go, this long-term position will be a valuable opportunity for me to stretch my wings and find out what kind of teacher I am. To start to find out what teaching methods, behavior management plans, ect mesh with who I am. I will get to develop a whole bag of tricks for when I finally have a classroom of my own.
So, today I sign off as a (temporary?) 3rd grade teacher with a wild bunch of kids who are responding well to some of the changes I am implementing.

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