Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer School - Day Eight - The Substitute Teacher

I took a day off from summer school today. So I had to find a substitute or Teacher-On-Call (TOC) as we politically-correct British Columbians like to say. This is never a pleasant experience. But before I start to rant let me say that I know the teacher who TOC'd for me today and she is an excellent teacher and I know she did a great job.

Having said that, the greatest TOC in the world is not me.

I'm not so egotistical to think that I am better than anyone else. But no matter how good you are, substitute teaching is an extremely difficult job. You have to come in with zero preparation to an audience that is predisposed to not listen and take advantage of every opportunity to slack off and get in trouble. It is thankless work and I admire those who do it well.

But I still have to come in and clean up the mess afterwards. No matter how closely the TOC followed my directions (or changed them for the better) I guarantee that students will complain "We don't get it!" and "She taught us nothing!" I have taken to scheduling days off when my classes are writing tests just so there is less to deal with when I get back. I have had some amazing TOCs in the past and yet, somehow, have never had a good feeling when I return.

I can only imagine this getting worse as I transition to a modeling method of teaching. How many quality physics teachers are on the TOC list? How many of them will be trained modelers that can pick up for me and lead the class in inquiry and exploration? If I am gone for several days, how will this affect student learning in my classroom?

Can I ever take a day off again?


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