I was assigned to substitute in 7th grade twice last week.
The first class, a math class, it freaked me out to be in MATH, wasn't all that bad. Before I stepped into the classroom, I called LT and left a message, "I've got your dream job, I'm in 7th grade math today. PRAY for me!" However, there was little need to panic, it went fairly well. The teacher had left plans that kept the students busy with worksheets so there was very little need for them to talk.
Friday I was in the 7th grade Humanities class and it was HORRIBLE. The students weren't behaving the way they had earlier on in the week during math class. It was, by far, the worst day I've had at work so far.
Friday was a strange school day to begin with. The kids were a little off because they weren't in school on Thursday. Also, they had a "community meeting" (think school assembly) during their first period. I chose to use that time to review the lesson plan for the day. (When I get to school, I have very little time to prepare for the days assignment because I arrive later than teachers do.) The community meeting ended early so I had to teach a portion of the lesson for the rest of first period. My second period class was TERRIBLE. Not only were they disgustingly disrespectful, I had students calling each other racist and other lovely things. I called the SSC (Student Support Center) and had a staff member talk with two of them. Then she talked to the entire class. They settled down until the last 5 minutes of class.
Fortunately, I had a planning period next. I reviewed the plan, the article, and organized how I wanted the class to flow. I came up with several directions the discussion could go and how to direct the conversation, or ask questions to make them think. I did my best to be as thorough and prepared as possible. I felt good about going into 5th period so I headed off to have lunch.
The 4th period class is what the school calls "crew". It's a class that "is meant to create supportive relationships between students and caring adults." The first time I had a crew experience was when I subbed for a female teacher in the middle school, it was easy and no big deal. They were all girls. Well, since I was subbing for a male teacher this time, I had all 12 and 13 year-old boys. Just so you know, I really don't like teenage boys. They drive me crazy. Really, really crazy. I'd rather eat dirt than interact with a teenage boy. LT knows this and when I told him about my day, he laughed because he understood completely. I know what it is that bothers me, so I do my best to avoid them, but UGH! I had to spend an entire class period with obnoxious, rude boys.
We went outside to play a game that Mr. Stephen had asked we play. They were terrible. All we had to do was stand in a circle and toss a ball to each other. The challenge was to make it more complicated by adding more balls. Of course it was an object lesson, but the boys had no interest in playing. Some were laying on the ground, others were wandering off, two were trying to hit each other as hard as possible with the ball. I finally called it and we went back inside. Mr. Tim, in the classroom right next door, came over to ask how things were going. I'd been fine up until that point and then, unexpectedly, I was on the verge of tears. He offered to hang out with them until crew was over and said I could go into his class since his crew was just watching a video and playing games. What a relief!
I wonder if Tim passed on my "close to tears" moment to the front office. Ms. Maurine, the principal, visited at the beginning of 5th period. She was there briefly. It's possible she was simply making rounds, but I think it was more likely she was checking out the grade from HELL!
My 5th period was the best one of the entire day. That's not to say it wasn't challenging, but it was the least challenging of them all. We actually got to discuss some of the worksheet that went along with the article. I still had to remind groups to stop talking and be respectful, but we ACTUALLY got to have a discussion.
My 6th period class was rough. I think by then, I just expected it to be rough.
I did my best to manage the classroom, truly, I did, but, wow, it was hard being in such a negative space for a long portion of the day. Repeating, "Voices off. Please stop talking. You need to be seated. Please don't sit on the desk. That behavior is not appropriate. Please be respectful to your classmate she/he is talking. Eyes up front." gets tiring. The entire experience was challenging. I know there are things that I did very well, and there are things that I didn't do so well. I think what made it more challenging than the math class was there was a portion of time for the students to talk. They didn't handle that well. The time they were reading was nice. This feedback is going to the teacher.
On a side note, my past experience with teaching was at a massage therapy school. The students were adults, they were paying to be there and they were interested in the material. For me, teaching teenagers is significantly harder than teaching adults. Besides, I have no training to be an elementary/middle school teacher. There is a lot that goes into being an effective teacher.
So, on to the part that got me seething.
I can't post a link to the article that we had to read, otherwise I would. It was just a page in Junior Scholastic entitled, Should short-shorts and leggings be banned? It presented claims from both sides of the argument, "yes they should be banned" and "no they should not be banned." Simple enough right?
But there is a message in the article that aggravates me. In the "yes they should be banned" portion, the message, that may not bother a large portion of the population, is, it's okay to objectify women. These aren't the exact words from the article, but it states that if a girl is wearing clothing like that, the boys will be distracted. It said it in another way too. I realize I am possibly making this larger than is it in the context of the article, but this implication is real, it's understated, and it bothers me. (I also have pretty strong opinions about modesty too, but I won't go into that here.)
I agree that bodies are beautiful, both genders, but I don't think women should be blamed for a mans lack of ability to check himself. The message, in essence, gives men "permission" to act as if they are incapable of curbing their lustful desires simply because a woman is beautiful. AND, then the blame for THEIR actions is put on the woman. THAT IS WRONG, and I hate that message. It is so subtle that most people don't even notice it. But, I do.
During a conversation in class, one male student commented on this, blaming the girl/woman for being distracting. "If you're walking in the hallway and you see..."
I stopped him and asked, "is your comment going to be appropriate?" Anyway, he made another attempt to say the same thing and I stopped him and said, a little heatedly, "You know, I'm a woman and I don't appreciate being objectified. There is more to me than my body."
I kept it to myself. Thank goodness class was over 2 or 3 minutes later.
Once school was over, I talked with the assistant principal about my concerns with the article and the comments in class. It was a brief conversation, I felt heard and we even laughed.
So, here is more on this topic and message. This link is to an article about an incident that recently happened in my home town. It reinforces the legitimacy of my concerns. (And reminds me why I really don't like some small towns.)
Pocatello teacher fired.
First of all, the teacher wasn't doing ANYTHING remotely school related AND, it was her boyfriend holding her boob. SHE wasn't holding her boob, his pecs or even his crotch. HE was the one doing that, and SHE'S the one that got fired. He only got reprimanded. WHAT?!?! HE was the one being inappropriate! What the HELL??????
Why is that okay?