I am a part of a number of different committees and inquiry groups that take me away from my classroom from time to time. Most of these absences are for half a day, either the morning or the afternoon. There will be several that will be full-day absences, but fortunately not too many. I also have about half an hour or so once a week that I meet with members of our support staff to collaborate on services for students who need it. Because of this, my students will be getting used to seeing substitute teachers in the classroom from time to time.
In an effort to promote consistency in my students’ lives, I try to have the same couple of substitutes in my room. Now, obviously, I can’t always get what I want, but I try and I am usually able to get the veteran retired teachers who spent almost more time in the classroom than I have being alive. There is the added benefit that they are teachers that my students have seen in the building regularly for as long as they have gone to school.
Today was my first extended absence for professional work. While I was away for the morning, I left my students in the very capable hands of one of these subs. While I was away, i did not have to worry about what was happening in the room. While I was working on examining our district’s writing curriculum and discussing possible strategies for improvement, my students did their typical morning work: PE, Book Exchange, writing, science, and literacy.
I got back early and saw my class sitting on the carpet, listening a the sub read an adaptation of The Magic Flute to them. (This was in preparation for a trip to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts next week to watch a stage production of the Mozart opera based on this story.)
After she finished reading, I took over and asked the class to review their day. For each part of the day, each student rated how the class did on a scale of one to five with one meaning everyone was off task and a five being everyone doing exactly what was expected. For each four or five, the students received one pebble in our incentive jar. The morning had five parts, so the class could earn up to five pebbles. However, when they receive all five, the pebbles are doubled, but when there is a substitute and they earn all five, they are tripled! The class had, in the words of the sub, an exceptional day, and so they earned all of their pebbles! What a wonderful way to end our week!