|Jacket- Vintage, Mrs. Bolton|
Dress- Vintage, Kensington Market, Toronto
Sigh, peace at last, a day off.
The last couple of weeks have been rough- emotionally trying, frustrating and downright exhausting. I am so grateful to my family, my boyfriend and mother, for listening to my complaints and giving me advice about my situation. I would also like to apologize to the afore mentioned individuals for the last fourteen days during which I have not shut up about my issues- sorry guys! Unfortunately, I still have plenty of feelings left to vent, and so, dear readers, I turn to you- behold my tale of woe:
If you are not aware, I have been substitute teaching this school year. I like subbing because it allows me to have an incredibly flexible schedule- I can choose which days I work, what jobs I take and what schools I work at. I also wanted to sub to get an idea of whether or not I want pursue certification and a permanent teaching position- at this point, after this experience, I'm gonna have to say no to that idea.
Anyhow, on the 18th of last month I was told by the secretary of one school I work at that she was seeking approval from district HR to put me in a long-term position in an eighth grade math classroom starting on the 23rd and continuing until the end of the year. At hearing this, I immediately attempted to refuse the job, citing my inexperience and my extreme difficulty with math as reasons why I should not be in this classroom for the next six weeks- I knew that this was not the job for me. The secretary quickly dismissed my concerns and explained that I would have plenty of assistance from a retired math teacher and that the students would be review for their end of grade testing the entire time. So, despite my protests, I was assigned to the position.
above: crab specimen earrings
below: cut glass ring found on the beach by my beau and his metal detector
Upon entering the classroom I was to spend the next six weeks in, I realized that this was far more like a permanent position than I had realized. Not only did I need to keep track of grades, I was in charge of creating lesson plans, assigning homework and preparing students to take a test that determines whether or not they continue to high school. Despite never having done these things before, I felt confident that I could hold things together and get this job done.
With just a few hours in the classroom, it was clear to me that students needed far more help than I could provide. This was not a simple case of reviewing topics, there was so much they didn't know- so much they needed re-taught or that they weren't even aware that they had been taught to begin with.
After getting a feel for the subject matter, I was fairly certain that I could not pass the eighth grade math exam- so how was I going to teach it?! Perhaps the retired math teacher could be of some assistance- after all that was how the secretary justified me taking this position, right? Turns out, this teacher is terribly intimidating to students, impossible to locate and only interested in assisting the advanced class. In his opinion, if students can't pass the test by now, no amount of review is going to help- which is fine because, according to him, "students that fail are going to drop out or go to jail anyhow, so why bother."
|Sam likes to climb this tree. He does it all by himself, I don't even have to ask.|
To top it all off, there are major behavior problems and a general refusal to do work in at least two of my four classes. At this point I realize that there is no way I can provide a stable learning environment and facilitate a productive review of material.
This is when I start asking other teachers for advice about the situation. When I do, I get replies like this: "all they're [the administration] is looking for is an adult in the room, so don't worry about the math," and, "hey, it's a paycheck!"
|Don't you love my new chair? I am desperate for dining chairs and this little beauty popped up for cheap at a local thrift store! Now to find more!|
And this is when I realize, WHAT ABOUT THE STUDENTS? The truth is, in public schools, no one cares about them- all parties involved, students included, are just there because they have to be. By placing an unqualified sub in the position, the administration is denying students a fair chance at passing their end of grade testing. This position was substituting for a teacher on maternity leave- maternity! They had nine months to find a suitable substitute and failed to do so- it is obvious there is no regard for the success of their students.
If school exists to educate students, yet education is not the number one priority, why even have such an institution?!
|I decided I wanted a little color in my hair, what do you think?|
After a full school week in the position, I went to the principle and demanded, as politely as possible, to be replaced with someone qualified and capable of assisting students to prepare for testing. In no time a replacement was found and I am back, once again, to day-to-day subbing.
I have mixed emotions about leaving this position. I know that I acted in the best interest of the students but I also feel incredibly guilty for leaving them to the new substitute. I can only hope my replacement is far more suited to the position than me and that she can help a few borderline students pass their exams and continue to high school.
If you've read all the way through this, thank you.
This is a matter that has been such a source of stress for me over the past two weeks and with this, I think I can put it to rest.
Today I was able to enjoy a relaxing day unencumbered by worry or anxiety about substituting- tomorrow it's back to battling middle school savages. At least tomorrow I know that at the end of the day, I will go home and the regular teacher will return in the morning- I can only hope that she sincerely cares about her students and is doing everything in her power to ensure they succeed.