11 March 2011

Beware the barrenness of a busy life. --Socrates

One would think that I'd have had plenty of time to muster at least one blog post in the past two months. One would think.

I'm happy to say that I've been busy since my long-term sub job ended. I have gone back to teaching my Korean English language learners, and I have returned to substituting day-by-day. On any given day, I could be doing both jobs, oftentimes leading to 12+ hour days. I'm grateful that I'm able to keep busy and get paid for it, but at the same time, I don't feel particularly fulfilled.

Take daily subbing, for instance. I'm in a classroom, which is where I want to be, but I'm not really teaching. And most of the time, I'm not teaching English. I've been kind of a jack-of-all-content-areas lately. I've learned some things about myself as a teacher through this. The most important of these things, I learned yesterday.

I am meant to teach secondary students. I am not an elementary school teacher.

I agreed to sub yesterday for a teacher who teaches middle school Choir and elementary school Music. I spent the first part of my day with middle school students, at a school I've been subbing at frequently. I can't complain about that at all. The kids are starting to recognize me, and I'm learning their names, so it's a little more like teaching in my own classroom. Only a very little more like it, but I'll take what I can get. Sometimes, I see an eighth grader or two, so they're similar in size to the children I am used to working with. I know, that sounds strange, but honestly, when did sixth graders become so miniature and easily-swept-under-foot? I was a little nervous about teaching Choir, but apparently the kids had just had a concert the day before, so we watched Finding Nemo as a treat. I didn't have to do much teaching, and while it can be exhausting to watch the same 45 minutes of one movie three times in a row, at least it was Finding Nemo. Pretty soon, it was time for me to head to the elementary school, where I would spend the rest of the school day teaching Music.

Or so I thought.

I wasn't all that nervous about teaching at an elementary school. It wouldn't be my first choice, and I never would have accepted this elementary job without it being attached to the middle school job. I had decided, though, that I was going to make the best of it. How bad could it be?

Seven viewings of the first 30 minutes of High School Musical later, any thoughts I had ever had about teaching elementary school are gone. Truthfully, after that much High School Musical, most thoughts were gone temporarily, but the ones about teaching elementary school remain absent today.

Things I learned in elementary school, yesterday:
  • High school kids are tempted to touch each other a lot. Elementary school kids are tempted to touch each other even more, in the most annoying ways possible. I didn't think children actually put their fingers a mere hair's length away from each others' faces while saying "I'm not touching you!" But. They. Do.
  • Elementary students sit in very small chairs, because they are very small people. Many of them are so small that their feet dangle inches off the floor, even in their very small chairs. I cannot sit in their very small chairs, for fear of being unable to stand up. 
  • You are a "very mean lady" if you happen to have the unfortunate task of informing them that they will not be playing their recorders today.
  • You are the "best person in the whole world" and are deserving of a hug with a running start if you happen to have the task of following up the news about the recorders with the news that High School Musical is instead on the agenda. 
  • You are again a "very mean lady" if you artfully dodge the hug. 
  • Elementary students prefer to move about the room on all fours. They are wiggly and do not sit still. They have to pee a lot. They are not unlike puppies, although most of them appear to be previously housebroken. (I don't really mean that. Promise.)
  • Elementary school students are really grossed out by armpit hair and think that men should shave their armpits. 
  • It's very difficult, if not impossible, for elementary school students to keep all four legs of their chairs on the floor.
  • Light-up shoes (a la LA Gear) are cool again. The lighting mechanism is more strobe-like and distracting than before.
  • I am gigantic compared to elementary students. This is new to me.

I am meant to teach secondary students. I am not an elementary school teacher. Not even almost.