The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Seventh Grade… Again!

Today I was a 7th grade reading teacher at Edison Middle School in Champaign. I have become quite the regular at Edison, to the point that teachers and students alike recognise me and remember who I am. It has been an awesome experience. I am already scheduled to be at Edison again this coming Thursday and Friday and I won’t be surprised if I end up being there Tuesday or Wednesday, as well. Tomorrow I will be at a different school teaching 2nd graders in the gifted/talented program, so I know my days at Edison for this week, at least, are over.

In the past week and a half, I have been at Edison teaching special education, 7th grade science, 6th grade math, 7th grade math, and 7th grade reading. Next week I will be doing 7th grade special education and 7th grade technology (a somewhat open-ended program that is going to be a lot of fun… I hope). The great advantage to teaching the same group of middle school students over such a close period of time is that they all know me as a teacher and not just as a substitute. As the students walked into the classroom today, quite a few said, “Hey, it’s you again! Awesome! You’re my favourite sub!” Instead of writing my name of the board as I usually do I simply wrote, “Yes, it is me again!”

I’ve been wondering why it is that so many students enjoy having me as a substitute. I don’t think it is a cult following so much as it is what I do. I teach and I hold my students accountable for learning. But, as per my philosophical approach to education, I expect the students to teach me and I learn from them. We have developed a mutual relationship of trust and respect. I am serious when we need to be serious and fun when we need to be fun. I allow the students to be themselves, even if this means sitting on the floor or on the windowsill instead of a desk. As long as they are working, I give them a lot of freedom. Of course, as soon as they betray my trust or take advantage of me, the freedom is gone, and they know this, too.

Incidentally, I spent the day reading through a screenplay of an episode of The Twilight Zone written by Rod Serling.

Today was definitely one of those days in which I truly loved what I was doing. The students really got into reading through the script, using voices and speaking dramatically. Girls voiced male roles, boys voiced female roles, and everyone got into it. If I could have filmed it, I totally would have. Heck, if I could get the kids to build sets, I would have them recreate the entire episode. But, alas, my time with them was limited to about 45 minutes per class for four different classes, and they will be finishing tomorrow. I hope they have as much fun learning tomorrow as they did today!


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