Be Careful What You Wish For
Today I was a 5th grade teacher at Robeson Elementary in Champaign. My mother-in-law and her student teacher had a “planning day”, so I was actually teaching. I have no idea what a “planning day” actually is, and I am fairly certain that no such days existed when I was a student teacher. However, I don’t begrudge the changes; in fact, I am glad to know that the University of Illinois is updating their clinical experiences. Someday I hope that they will arrange to have a student teacher in the classroom on the very first day of school (a suggestion also made by Gloria Ladson-Billings, with which I heartily agree). There are all sorts of potential logistical nightmares entailed in such a shift in the program, but they would be worth the benefit of having prospective teachers see what to do on the first day.
Today was a pretty easy day, actually. The class had Library first thing in the morning, followed immediately by P.E. After a math lesson that was a review of concepts taught in 4th grade (concepts I actually just taught on Friday), they had lunch and then a social studies test in the afternoon. Other than the typical rambunctious behaviour of the four boys and two girls who like to dominate everything and everyone, there weren’t any real problems (unless I count the incident in which one of the boys accidentally shot another boy in the eye with a rubber band… but that’s a different matter altogether).
During Specials this morning, I was chatting with the three other 5th grade teachers. One of them also has a student teacher in full take-over, and so the regular teacher spends her days in the hall grading papers and just hanging out. (We are planning on having a hall party next week when I am there again.) She commented how nice it would be to have a secretary do the grading and other paperwork, and one of her colleagues said, “Oh, that would be so nice! I wish I could have someone else do all the paperwork so that I can just focus on teaching!” The third 5th grade teacher present is actually a long-term sub who is going to be there for the rest of the year because the regular teacher is on maternity leave. Upon hearing this wish from one of our colleagues, I said, “Oh, you can have a job like that! It is called ‘substitute teaching’. The catch, though, is that you only get paid about half what you are making now.” My fellow sub laughed and said, “Man, isn’t that the truth!” I don’t think she heard my response, though.
If there are any full-time elementary school teachers in Illinois who would like to have a job where all they have to do are teach lessons, I’d be happy to swap places with you! I’ll gladly deal with the “hassle”* of lesson planning, grading, faculty meetings, team meetings, professional development, RtI, PBIS, PLCs, IEPs, CRT, SQ3R, TESA, and the host of other alphabet-soup programs if they are too much for you. As much as I love working as substitute teacher, my goal is still to work full-time, and I wouldn’t mind at all the “other” things that teachers have to do!
* Note: I don’t believe any of the many wonderful teachers with whom I work actually believe that the non-teaching aspects of their jobs are hassles, although I do know that there are teachers like that in our world.