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Archive for October, 2010

When I was student teaching there was a SMART Board and while I loved using it I rarely used the Notebook application.  Most times I created a slide show and drew on that.  However,  I used it with graphic organizers and saved a few slides for some of the projects that I worked on.  I had even gotten the software for my laptop so I could work while home.  I just started really cracking down on my portfolio ( I have an abbreviated version to pass out) and need access to some of those slides.  What am I to do now that I no longer have that laptop and do not have access to a SMART Board?

There is hope…sort of.  After shouting at my computer and dodging sketchy web programs, I came across SMART Notebook Express.  This web-based software allows you to open, edit, and share the material you created using the Notebook program.    You don’t need to download anything and there is no cost.  It has many of the same features such as pen, new page, text, and screen shade.  I was so happy to see my files!  Unfortunately, my glee died when I saw that I could not print the slides, through the program or a screen shot.  All I wanted was to print a page for my portfolio.  I was so close T_T

What lovely problems have you had with file format and accessibility?

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Mid-day Calls Not OK

What do I dread most about subbing?  The early who in the world in possibly up at this hour calls.  Yes, I like getting a spot and yes I like not having to throw on the nearest clothes and down some mouthwash, but I don’t like mornings.  Period.

I also don’t like when I get calls in the middle of the day.  I am lucky enough to receive pretty regular calls so I spend a lot of times at schools.  Occasionally, one lady will call me during the day.  Since I am a responsible sub I turn my phone off while I am at school and only check it on breaks and lunch.  I get annoyed when she does this because 1) She works in a school and knows the situation with phones 2) She used to sub and knows the life we live 3) I have come into school and explained how I can’t answer to her 4) I can’t answer so when I see the missed call I know I just lost a position with a grade level I would prefer to work with.

I’m glad the staff likes me and I am getting calls but they just need to be better timed.  Who would have thought I would prefer the early morning calls?

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In my daily travels as a sub I have talked to countless teachers about how they got started.  Confirming my thoughts, substituting is a very good way to get your foot in the door.  Many teachers started out subbing, took on a long-term position, and then were asked to return the next year.  One teacher I talked to today had been working as a sub while paying a mortgage and supporting two children.  Boy, am I glad I am still at home (Ask me how I feel when my house is filled with noisy relatives).   I am lucky enough to live with my grandparents who cover many of my expenses for me.  I mean the pay is decent but I can’t imagine supporting myself on it, even if I was alone.  For me, a big chunk of my pay is sucked away by student loans.    Then we get into other debt.  Think about the cost of a car, rent/mortgage, insurance, food, childcare and the many other costs of life.  Sometimes it makes my head hurt @_@  Hopefully, one day I will have my own classroom, a decent salary, and I can have my own little patch of the world to call my own.

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I had the funniest comment in my sub plans today.  The classroom had a SmartBoard and it’s in the middle of the front board.  Actually, I should say it was in the middle of the only board and there was a small white board for assignments and announcements.  Basically, there was no writing space.  In the plans the teacher wrote a note, “There is a SmartBoard at the front of the class.  This is not to be used as a whiteboard!”  There was also a sign on the floor in front of the board.  I laughed and then was horrified at the thought of someone actually writing on those expensive pieces of equipment.  But then I thought, I am used to these tools because we had seminars in college and my classroom had one while I was student teaching.  But I can remember when my high school first got one…for the entire school and we were all amazed at them.  Not all teachers may be familiar with the technology but I would think you would know not to write on them.  But again seeing how little space there was to write I could see how they may mistake it for space.

What interesting directions have you gotten in plans?

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When possible, most schools I go to try to keep the classrooms together based on grade.  Sometimes, this can’t happen.   One school needed to create a new first grade class two months into the year and while the other two classes were on the first floor, the new class was in the basement.  The teacher of the third grade class I was in had previously been one of three sixth grade teachers but after the grade size required only two classes she was switched to a third grade class.  To be nice, they allowed her to stay in her room.  Sweet deal except the other third graders are on the second floor and her class is surrounded by fifth and sixth graders.

I felt bad for my little fishies today; yes, they are not the smallest in the school but fodder they can still be.  I was surprised when I opened the door to go to a special to find sixth graders milling outside of our classroom while they waited to switch classes.  I didn’t want my kids to be bothered by the older students so I just waited.

Then, at the end of the day, my class was heading down the stairs and one of the sixth grade classes came out.  My class is directly across from the stairs so we headed straight down but she came from the side.  The teacher waited but I still had a few students coming out of the classroom when the teacher exclaimed she couldn’t wait when she cut through my line.  I understand we all want to get home at the end of the day but for five more students you couldn’t wait?  So while I was trying to make sure my children got out of the class safely the rest of the children hit a barrage of traffic when they reached the second floor.

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Paper Cut Pain

So, as I said in an earlier post, education deals with a lot of paperwork.  What is the worst downside all this paperwork?  PAPER CUTS!!  I despise these seemingly little and innocuous injuries; they hurt.  I always cringe when I feel the paper slide across my skin and I feel the burn.  Cardboard probably causes the worst cuts.  As I feel the pain I sit and wait to see the small cut.  They are EVIL >.<

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As a substitute teacher I am constantly adapting to the different rules and procedures of each school I am in.  Rules that seem to be pretty consistent at every school are “No chewing gum” and “No cell phones.”  When I was in school,  cell phones were just becoming the rage and if you didn’t have one you could still live.  We also tried to get away with chewing gum but had the sense to spit it out when we were caught.  In this day and age it’s almost a battle to get kids to follow these rules.  I have had a student caught three times…in one period.  The first time, she got up and must have pretended to throw the gum away because I saw her chomping away a few seconds later.  However, after the second time, I caught her as she proceeded to put a piece of gum in her mouth.  Stubborn much?  At least wait till you are in another class.

I find cell phones much more irksome.  They are a distraction.  Some people argue they can be used as a resource in the classroom however, many schools do not have the technology implemented to accommodate programs that would aid in this.  I always give students once chance to put it away.  If I see it out again I take the phone till the end of class and if they get belligerent I write them up.   I had one girl get angry when her phone went off and I told her to turn the sound off and put it away.  She snapped back, “My mother has to keep in touch with me!”  That is what the office is for and I would hope parents understand you are in class.  Besides, you can still be notified of a call without the sound.

Besides the texting,  phones now have music players and internet connections.  I have had students start playing music on their phone without headphones and think nothing of the disturbance that it is causing.  They will also watch videos in a giant group that may be inappropriate for the school setting because of the lack of filters.

All of these struggles are bothersome but if you have the support of the administration and teachers behind you it can be easier to combat.  I find my biggest frustration comes when the teachers are ignoring the rules.  It is hard to enforce rules when I have teachers sitting and checking their phone in class or chomping away at gum.  How many time have I told a student to put the phone away and they say the teacher allows them to text.  Yes this could be a ploy to get away with it but sadly in a majority of the cases it is true.  How can a sub, who is already looked down on,  have a chance of enforcing these rules if the teachers are not setting a good example?  Isn’t that one of the key facets to teaching?

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