Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Illusive Dayplan

As a supply teacher, one really never knows what your classroom will look like as you enter its hallowed doors, unless this is a return trip, even then it can be a bit of a surprise.

I have a fairly standard arrival procedure at most schools.  First of all I  try to arrive at least ten minutes earlier than the arrival time CanPage (our booking agency) gives me.  Leaving early gives me plenty of time on the roads, and to find a new school, if need be.  I also am usually not too harried  then to explore the classroom and find my supplies and resources. 

Once I am signed in at the office, or handed my time-sheet in (which ever system is in vogue at that school), I then give them my car keys in exchange for a set of school keys.  Some schools require this, and I just make it standard practice so that I never arrive home with a set of keys from the other side of the district.

Locate the classroom.  Sometimes you are left to do this on your own, other times the secretary, another teacher or the principal will escort you safely to your door.  If someone takes you there, it is always wise to chat them up a little.  "So anyone, I should be aware of in this class?"  I always find that is a great ice-breaker and you can usually glean some valuable insights into the nature of your classroom and hence your day, in a very few minutes.  It is also wise to make an ally of the teacher beside or across from you.  Here is a possible repository for little Johnny, when he reaches is obnoxious best.

Once in the classroom, I doff my coat and boots.  I look for the chalkboard or whiteboard, go and put the date and my name in large legible letters.

This is what I like to see - everything well laid out, with the materials needed all stacked chronologically below it.

Then I proceed to hunt for the day plan.  This can be a most entertaining venture some days.  Normal ettiquette would say it should be in obvious sight, open on the teacher's desk ..... you would think.   Not the case, far too often.  If the teacher is sick and was not prepared for a supply, often they will email the day plan in to either the secretary or the principal.  Again it can be a bit of a guessing game, as neither is often sure who the designated receiver should be.  Those are usually okay, maybe a tad nerve-wracking as the students start entering the class, and your day plan has yet to wing its way into your now-sweating palms.

But then there is the teacher, with a serious sense of fun, who likes to play hide-and-seek with the supply.  I'm not sure if it is a test to see if you can make the grade or not.  I had one case a year ago, where the principal and I both searched every logical ( my first mistake) place and both came up empty-handed.  In these cases I usually have a bit of a back up plan (usually something in the literacy vein, even as simple as to read aloud my favourite book).  So the class is in, attendance done, and I'm winging it,  when suddenly I spy something on the window ledge at the back of the room... the illusive dayplan and all the materials laid out carefully for the day.  Okay, maybe I should have looked there, but honestly did that teacher, teach from the back window ledge every day?

The next interesting style of day plan is the 52 card shuffle.  This one usually goes hand in hand with the desk piled high and about to erupt Vesuvius-style.  This was the plan from yesterday.  The material was all there ( I think) and it was in a format that I'm sure the teacher saw as straightforward, but it was all Greek to me.  It was like all the materials fell on the floor and the custodian picked it up, shuffled it a bit, then asked a Grade one student from next door if they'd mind tidying it further - nothing is where the plan says it is, or in any sense of logical order.

This is the scary one, times and subjects are there, but no details to work with.

The next style of day plan is present, but might as well be non-existent.  These are the ones which are carefully written but say nothing of any useful nature.  For example: "Review the vowels" -- that was the instructions for a 45 minute Kindergarten lesson a few weeks ago.  Well let me see...'a'........'e'.......'i'.......'o'.......'u'....... sometimes 'y' and every once in a blue moon 'w'.  Now what shall I do to fill the next 44 minutes and 47 seconds?  And then there was the beauty for a grade 7/8 music class.  Day plan instructions, word for word:  "I _______ Rock _____ _______.  Come up with a few more  examples in your prep period".   Huh!????
That one took me a few minutes to even decipher, I was to come up with song titles, insert a few blanks in them to have them figure out.  Very musically challenging, to say nothing of educational!

The last day plan I will discuss, and yes this is rare, but I have seen it.  Its the supply-teachers-are-obviously-lesser-beings-so-I-will-write-a-five-page-essay-describing-in-minute-detail-every-detail-including-how-to-wipe-little-Suzie's-nose-in-the-perchance-she-might-sneeze.  I do like the detail, but we are thinking, creative beings and most of us have opposable thumbs. 

Oh yes and the answer was : I Love Rock and Roll.  Needless to say, I had to put a bit more effort into making that class an educational experience,  than was normally expected of a supply.

What do you mean "how is 'w' a vowel?"   What do you think it is in cow or growl?  Don't be alarmed I was 43 and attending post graduate studies in a different country before I learned that one too.

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! W as a vowel, who knew?! Certainly not me. I Googled it and see it's quite the topic of discussion!


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