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Kids these days…

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Sometimes when I go to pick up Jamie from school in the afternoons I get to her classroom and she’s off on one of the many necessary errands of a four-prep high school teacher. I usually go in and wait around a bit, but a lot of times the janitor comes by and we talk about (a) the weather, and (b) disrespectful children. As per my previous post, I would at any time take all the inclemencies of (a) over the weakest sprinkle of (b). That being the case, I probably shouldn’t be a substitute.

My classes earlier this week were a mixed bag; when I’m subbing for the junior high band, I get a lot of free periods and a subject I enjoy. Monday and Tuesday of this week, however, I was in charge of a high school BCIS teacher’s four preps, and there turned out to be a lot less break time. I’m not particularly good at classroom management, and when an intended two-day assignment is finished in ten minutes it can cause some discipline problems. But it’s not really the teacher’s fault at all; the classes I had the most trouble with were the ones whose assignment actually lasted the entire two days.

My favorite incident from this experience came shortly after lunch break. That particular class was supposed to be copying notes down from the projector screen, and had done all right before lunch; however, when they came back from lunch we had some difficulties. One student who had been giving me trouble in several different periods all day came running by my classroom on top of another student; I suppose the technical term is “roughhousing” since they didn’t look angry, but it was enough for me. I demanded that he come into the classroom, and since the bell hadn’t rung yet the kid wasn’t too happy about it; he stormed into the room complaining, walked around in a brief circle, and socked the classroom laser printer as hard as he could.

Seriously, who punches a printer?

As I was writing his discipline referral (mildly shaking with rage), both he and several other students started mimicking and laughing at me. That’s hard, and I hated that it was hard. I was in the right, but they were the ones making me feel ashamed of myself.

In the end, of course, I got over it and ate some Chipotle. Few worldly pleasures soothe the troubled soul like a giant burrito.


Written by jazzslider

April 28, 2006 at 1:33 am

How to teach trombone

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My substitute teaching work has been pretty lucky so far; the majority of it has been music-related, which means at the very least that I know the subject (if not the kids). On Friday I was teaching trombone sectionals for sixth graders…they had literally been playing for eight months, if that. When one of them asked how long I had been playing, we discovered together that my trombone experience extended his entire life.

I know I’m only twenty-two, but man, did that make me feel old. I realized on further reflection just how much the world has changed since I was a kid: I grew up in the days before the widespread public internet. Since I am now pursuing work in web development, that means that if I had been asked, at five years old, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I couldn’t have even dreamt up the right answer…web design and development jobs didn’t exist back then! Ridiculous.

Anyway, back to the trombone. I don’t think I’ve ever really worked with “rank beginners” before, and so I really have no expectations as to what they’re supposed to be able to do at that age. One of them, while we were playing one of their band pieces, stayed on the same note the entire time, even though his slide was moving. It was an A-Flat, and his slide was only rarely in the position that A-Flat is supposed to be in. I wish I knew what to tell him, but I think a long, complicated explanation of the harmonic series would just make a sixth grader angry 🙂 I made him breathe a little, and then we just moved on.

The others played more correctly, and all of them responded pretty well to the suggestions I gave, but I have no idea whether or not I was on the right track. I suppose that’s where pedagogy classes come in handy, but as I never expected to be a teacher, I didn’t take any. Does anyone reading this know what first-year trombone players are generally expected to learn? I’m curious, because tomorrow afternoon I’m going right back into the same classes. I already told them most of what I know, so I suppose I’ll do it again…? 🙂

Written by jazzslider

April 9, 2006 at 1:10 pm

Ah, the days…

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Today’s sub work was a little nostalgic. I was filling in for one of the choir directors in Jamie’s district, and the assignment that he left was about ten minutes long. This, of course, meant that the rest of the period was reserved for “homework,” music teacher slang for, “talk to your musician friends and maybe play some cards.” I remember those days well, and I can’t say I felt too bad about letting these kids relive my past. Kinda brought on a warm feeling, to tell the truth.

It had its rough moments, though…I made the mistake of letting most of one junior high class go hang out in the practice rooms, and although they didn’t really make any trouble I found myself terrified that they just might break out of the building at any moment and unleash their eighth-grade fury on the grown-up world…but they didn’t, because eighth-grade fury, in my limited experience, seems to consist mainly of the following: “Hehe…I’m breaking a rule…”

Written by jazzslider

April 6, 2006 at 11:27 pm

Goodness me…

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Today was my first day substitute teaching…actually it was sort of an unexpected half-day; I got the call around 10:15, and seeing as how I was free, figured I should take it.

It wasn’t exactly my favorite thing to do…the first class was great, sitting quietly and reading their books, but the second was very obviously aware of how temporary my authority over them was. They were loud the whole derned time, and since I didn’t really know whether I could send anyone to the office without a form (I had been given no referral forms yet), I was kind of limited to loudly suggesting that they be quiet and read their books. That, incidentally, was the day’s assignment, which in all fairness didn’t make things easy on me…it’s a purely discipline-based assignment, and I don’t really do discipline well.

The last class, however, was OK…I got an hour off beforehand and got some encouragement (and referral forms) from the office staff, and then the class was pretty nice anyway. I even felt kind of smart sometimes, because they tried to pull some obvious tricks on me and I didn’t play along (at least not every time…). Crafty little eleven-year-olds, you are no match…

Written by jazzslider

April 3, 2006 at 10:20 pm