OK, not really my first day, but my first day that really really counted as far as I’m concerned (long story). I’m going back to school to get my teaching degree, and substituting locally allows me to make connections and gain experience before being thrown to the wolflets.
I have to be there at 7:20. I work until after 10:00 the night before at my wonderful retail job from the bowels of you-know-where. Seriously, last night, if it could go wrong, it did. I had one cashier walk out without saying a word to anyone, just turned off her light, clocked out, and went out the door. All my registers at the service desk locked up and had to be rebooted, causing me to direct the long line there to registers 3 and 4 where I did what I could to fix the original problem and handle the original customers. I had to work selfcheck and play csm, at the same time, alone, for over an hour. I forgot one person’s break and lunch and felt so terrible about it. She eventually went, but still.
Anyway, so this morning I wake up early, (better than late!) and drive to my destination. The principal there stops herself from hugging me and says, “Thank you for coming! And early too!” I was way early, like over 30 minutes earlier than the 25 minutes early I was supposed to arrive in the first place. The secretary is bouncing with joy I’m there. Something’s off. Everyone is so thrilled to see me. What on earth is going on?
Principal: So I’m guessing you heard what happened.
Me: (So this is what terror tastes like) Eh…..no….
Principal: We lost a student over the weekend in an accident.
So, while as terrible as this is, and it was, high school grief has changed a lot since my day, and this was a perfect opportunity to understand the new process before being blown headon with it as a real teacher.
Sad, respectful things are said, I’m given my binder, key, and badge, and then my questions start. This school has at least 8 different schedules. Some of them with a short 3rd period, some with an activity in the morning/afternoon/evening. Every period seems to have a “physical activity” time at the end of it. I have 2nd lunch duty. Times of my lunch duty, period changes, etc, are based on which schedule we’re doing. Due to the death, we are no longer on our regular schedule and are now on the homeroom in the morning schedule (yes, they have HR in the midday and afternoon schedules too-eye roll). An assistant principal joins my HR with one crying girl and announces sad things. HR lasts forever, and the announcement during first period states we are now in “activity in the morning schedule because HR took so long.”
I’m teaching choir. I don’t have an accompanist nor the skills to be one. Thankfully, the teacher has left me videos for them to watch. Grease, a ridiculous musical about a sweet, innocent girl who must learn to smoke, drink, and screw around in order to get the guy she loves (There’s morals for ya), and Bohemian Rhapsody, which I was actually wanting to watch. I couldn’t help but stare at his false teeth the whole time. I’m all for accuracy, but they should have just left him with normal teeth instead of making him look like a freak. Sub+movies+unusual occurrence (aka death)=fun times for students who want to goof off. That, and I was literally told by the principal to just babysit my kids today (due to the death) sigh
I had several students in crying fits who went for counseling. I dismissed 1st period 10 minutes early because I took “physical activity” seriously and let them out to go do whatever they were supposed to do, but it actually means “extra time at the end of class” and I should have waited for “physical activity” to be over. I will say this. Dealing with grief at school has certainly changed, but I love how kids now just let loose with their emotions. “Hey. I’m sad. I need to see the counselor.” No one made fun of them crying. Several tried to console and cheer them up. It was awesome!
Lunch duty was a breeze but boring. Every period was filled with at least 5 announcement of students being called to the office for early dismissal (a few were pretty inconsolable). By last period, the sadness of the day seemed gone, and the goofing began. One group talked nonstop and even set up an arm wrestling tournament. I stopped it quickly. Another group of three boys were an entity in theirselves. One would try something, it wouldn’t work, the other two would try the same thing. I mean seriously, if the first time didn’t work, are you really that stupid? Those three did everything, everything to test me. I ignored most of it, sat near them the duration of the movie, and gave them my dead pan stare of “seriously kid? Is that all you got?” that I give annoying customers at work. The stare worked better than it did at work. Good. I put the room back in order, turned in my paperwork, and left a little note for the teacher about his class.
So yeah, all in all an excellent experience. I’m sure the same kids every day would fluctuate. The bad would get worse for a day or two then start to (very slowly) straighten up. The good at first would get comfortable and start slacking, etc. But overall discipline tends to improve over the school year.
I go for orientation for a different county Wednesday. A bigger county. A more diverse county. While there is always the chance for a group of good kids, there is also the very good chance of a challenge. I love challenges. (evil grin)