Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Very Merry Un-Anniversary

This post is two days late since I spent the weekend enjoying an internetless reunion with some college friends. However, I wanted to mark this occasion even if it isn't exactly timely.

Friday was my one year anniversary of substitute teaching. That's right, February 24, 2011 I walked into a school for the first time, pored over the sub plans for some kindergarteners... and then failed miserably. Note to aspiring substitute teachers: I really recommend not starting with kindergarten. I had zero classroom management, minimal understanding of what five-year-olds are really capable of (don't be fooled by those tiny grins!), and no concept of what a kindergarten routine actually looks like these days. I think it was the first time in my life I ever identified with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Whenever I think back to that day, one conversation sticks out. We were doing the morning meeting, which consists of the calendar, weather, days of school, etc.:

Entire class: Noooooo. Now we're supposed to do (insert some routine here)!

Me: Guys, I'm not your teacher. Some things will be a bit different today. It's okay, it might be fun. We can go crazy a little!

Little boy: Really?!?!?!

Me: No, not what I meant!

Yup. I was that clueless. Not surprisingly, I did not wind up on that school's preferred list. 

I like to think back to that class, particularly on rough days. In one year, I really had a crash course in education. I still have weekly internal debates about decisions I make in the classroom, I still wonder if I should have explained a concept differently, I still daydream about how a kid would have reacted if I had responded to him/her another way... Knowing my neurotic tendencies, that will never change. But every once in a while I take time to appreciate my teaching "growth spurt." I can't really say when it happened or how, but somewhere along the way I became significantly less of an idiot. So thanks to the teachers who I observed, the kids who unwittingly acted as guinea pigs, and the actors whose cheesy movies gave me hope. I appreciate all of you. (But mostly this guy.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Historical Fiction

By now I truly hope that everyone on the planet has seen Drunk History, a delightful series in which an intoxicated individual narrates a historical event while actual famous actors reenact the intoxicated's version of events. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds. 

Yesterday as I was teaching some 1st graders about Abraham Lincoln (going into waaaay more detail than necessary, thanks to the infectious knowledge shared by my nonsexual life partner), I realized that someone really needs to do a series called "Grade School History." One child made the mistake of asking how Lincoln died, which led to a long discussion about bullets to the head, John Wilkes Booth, and pennies on graves. A little girl raised her hand to share the following historical anecdote: