Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Great Experience + Ideas for Track Meet Time!

So I've had the privilege of working with a temporary contract (both about 2 1/2 months) at two great schools. I've had great support from the teachers and administration at these schools and of course I've had great support from schools that I have filled in as a supply teacher for but had no previous time in the school.

But there are those moments and today I shall write about one of those moments, that expose those true feelings about education that make a teacher want to let out a whoop.

This is a true story - I've withheld the name of the school and student.

Setting the picture I give you a bright creative boy, small for his age, but in my opinion ahead of his class in creativity and artistic talent. He could draw really well, so well that on a unit exam I had him draw out an answer on his adapted test. As I said he was small for his class but he was also not as athletic as some of his other classmates. It was track time and we were doing high jump in the gymnasium instead of outside because the field was too soggy. I had gone over technique for high jump and we all practiced it without jumping. I even provided a demo - and I'll admit I was hesitant inside because high jump was not my strong point in when I was the student but I made the jump. For all this student's efforts he just couldn't get the jump and knocked down the bar. His timing was off a bit and so was his technique. We worked through the steps of running and jumping together. How to jump off the one foot, where to make the jump even. Still couldn't do it. The bar is a little bit higher now, and his Dad is watching from the window at the door to the gym and the student goes over to say hi to Dad - it is the last period of the day. Student returns to the line and again doesn't get over the bar but almost, the improvement was there and I remind him of how to jump with the one leg. Back in line he goes and the bar goes a little bit higher. I've got 25 other students to keep an eye on but I made sure to watch his next attempt. He made it! All in one PE class and next PE class he was able to make the jump too! I did give him a high five and congratulated him for his continuing efforts. It was one of those moments that I truly felt I had not only helped a student but that I made a difference.

I know improvement doesn't usually happen that fast, so it is important to keep a level head when struggling students continue to struggle. All we can do is keep providing them a safe space to make mistakes so that they can learn from them. Provide encouragement and of course provide positive lessons and different ways of looking at problems.

Now as I mentioned earlier I wasn't exactly the model track and field student. In fact all I ever got was the dreaded white ribbon of participation. To borrow a phrase "Good Grief!" I would have preferred no ribbon. Sure I wasn't the only one to get the participation ribbon, but all it meant was, you didn't come in 1st-5th so here's a ribbon for coming out. Nice. I should have just stayed in class, or at home. So I asked my PE curriculum teacher what I could do about track meets. I have yet to be able to implement these ideas at a school but thought I would share!

Add events that are team! -

1) Tug of War. -Sure one team will end of first and one second but I would have been a lot happier going home with at least a second place ribbon.

2) Highland Games - I was youth member of Scouts Canada at the time but I was volunteering at the 2001 Canadian Jamboree in PEI at the Highland Games event. Doing something like sheaf toss, or even a caber toss using a small spar work well as individual events. We also had a team event carrying heavy suitcases in a figure 8. It was timed and wore a figure 8 path in the grass by the end of the week.

3) Other team events or paired events. Think of summer camp, two legged race, wheelbarrow race.

4) On a hot day a game of mission impossible is good too! Set water balloons on the ground in a small area ( maybe size of sand pit but can be smaller for younger grades) student must be directed by another student through the maze of balloons without breaking any - the blindfolded student must not feel with their feet and instead - smash their foot down as they step. Add obstacles for added difficulty!

5) For students who just are not interested or don't want to participate anyway - give them jobs! Have them be journalists, photographers, timers, work the rake, or assist with the running of events so that they don't stay home.

Hope these ideas help and let me know if you put use an idea. I would like to know how it went!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Subs need the Procedures!

To quote the book "The First Days of School" rules were meant to be broken, procedures are to be followed.

I know that perhaps some substitutes prefer to run their own ship right away. Personally I only do if I know I'm going to be covering for a longer period of time and even then not in every manner. However it does not matter if the time in a classroom is limited to a full day, half day or even a period, as the covering teacher I usually like to stick to what the students are already familiar with before using methods I prefer or know. Why should I have the students change for me? Even then each teacher has their own comfort levels with noise levels and everything else a classroom of 20-30 students can throw at you. However there have been classrooms I have left wondering. What is the general plan of action that gets these kids to work. Perhaps that's the great thing about only being in class for a day or a half day; my methods didn't work with this group, try it again tomorrow with a different group. Or maybe my methods just need more time.

For example for general reasons I don't like to yell. I hated when my teachers yelled, even if they weren't yelling at me which was rare. Have I yelled though, yep, when I really felt at the end of my rope and I'm not happy with myself for it. I've even been told by a cooperative student that I should yell to get the attention of the students that are "misbehaving". So as I quoted above, rules were meant to be broken. As a supply teacher, I expect the students to be a little bit off. They know they have an adult that is in unfamiliar territory. I don't know personalities, I don't know background issues, I don't know names, I don't know how the classroom operates. Seeing rules posted on the wall is fine but only if they make sense to the student in the first place. "Listen in class" shouldn't be a rule, it should be a procedure. If it is a rule, I as the teacher filling in, need to know the consequence. I might not like the rule, and I don't, but if that is what the students understand, that consequence X will come if they break it, I feel that is what I should stick with it and retain proper control in the class.

Perhaps these rules work for you and if they do , awesome. But provide me, the fill in, with the necessary tools that allow you to operate your classroom with ease in that matter. Let me know what you expect me to do for 'discipline and consequences' and I will follow with your wishes to the best of my ability. Perhaps I'm young and inexperienced, perhaps I'm just naive.

I do know that I want to get through what you have left for me to cover.

I do know that I want your students to care about the work they
need to get done.

I do know that I need your procedures!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The First Post


Welcome to the first of what I hope will be many posts on Split Glue. A little bit about myself and then song goals for the blog follow. I am a recent university graduate from the University of Alberta. I have degrees in Philosophy and Elementary Education. I have had two short temporary teaching contracts since graduating and I am currently on the supply list for two school boards.
I also have a part time job on the side in a customer service position. Like my PC though I may purchase an iPad in the near future to go with my iPod.

On a side note, I enjoy the outdoors as often as possible through camping and gold panning, and many other activities.

Goals for this blog include writing about education as I see it. Writing about interesting apps for the iPod/iPad along with other cool tech things to be found. I hope I can help others out there and give a little back. Finally I hope you the reader will help me out and respond to the questions I may pose once in a while and here is the first: As a supply teacher, I can't write about the school, students, teachers I interact with or their interactions with technology during my day as a supply teacher. To do so would be unprofessional in my opinion. Is there anything I can write about as a supply teacher?