I need to clear something up from a previous post, not because anyone said anything, but merely because it’s been sitting on my conscious.
In recent days I’ve found myself spending a lot of time inside a specific school building. Teaching, lecturing, grading, and even in today’s case…learning what a “Teacher In-Service” day really feels like (I’m exhausted from it). However, as entertaining, enjoyable, and life changing the fun as been, in the end I am not a teacher. I am a substitute teacher that’s been requested to spend all of last week, and all of this week, inside the building and work with sixth grade middle school students. Again, I’m not in trouble or anything along those lines, but even through all the joy I needed to be clear that at the moment I am not employed as a full time teacher. If we really want to get into the nuances of things, the truth is that my certification to teach in this state is currently expired. Darco and I have agreed that I’ll be taking another certification text (Praxis) in another content area in November, and will also be working through a collegiate course next spring to bring my current certificate back to active status*. It’s embarrassing, but if this website shows you anything, it’s that assuming you won’t ever use something again in your life…is absolutely stupid to accept. I just wanted to get this brief explanation out of the way before continuing on about the oddities of today.
Today, though I am a substitute, I was requested to show up at the school during a “Teacher In-Service” training day. This included the morning session being a “education camp” for teachers, and the afternoon being aimed at individual core time with your content partners in the grade (I.E. I’m currently in science, so I meet with the other two sixth grade science teachers). The afternoon session was just as you could imagine, a lot of working being done, brainstorming sessions, and a remarkably difficult moment of trying to figure out how to explain the process of making a jelly sandwich.
The morning though, that truly was a glorious eye-opener. There were three parts of the morning session:
- Morning Meeting: All teachers in the building in one conference room. They discussed adjusting behavioral issues inside a classroom before the behavioral issue actually forms.
- Session I: Teachers split into several classrooms to be taught by other teachers on specific skill concepts (Assisting with Vocabulary Terms, AVID, Google Documents, etc…), a very wide array of options.
- Session II: Same as Session I.
Personally, though I tried to hide in the first meeting, a few strange things happened for the day. In the beginning of the first meeting I noticed the assistant principal randomly start to hand out a broken six-pack of yellow Gatorade bottles. I’m used to strange, this is middle school, and students aren’t the only odd ones in the building. I also noticed that specific instructors were asking for those bottles, they weren’t sweating, they weren’t thirsty, and they weren’t opening the bottles. The head principal went on to explain that the Gatorade bottles were basically trophies in themselves. The school’s mascot is an alligator, so it was a play on words (historical accuracy with Florida, Gators, Gatorade, etc…), and the bottles were given to instructors…by instructors…for going ‘above and beyond’ their daily tasks. Personally, I thought it was a pretty cool concept. Each person who had requested a bottle stood up, explained why they were nominating someone, and then presented them with the bottle. One cool thing about being around teachers, creativity knows no bounds around these crazies. The last bottle wound up in the hands of one of the sixth grade teachers. She stood in front of the rest of the instructors within the school (that is several by the way), and while messing with the pen cap in my pocket, this was the next thing I heard:
This is for someone that has came in, stepped up in not the easiest circumstances, and is ensuring that the job is getting done. All of us in sixth grade are so happy that he’s been around, so from all of the teachers in sixth grade we’d like to nominate Shawn.
The next thing I knew, a random Gatorade bottle was on the desk in front of me. Outside of socks, shoes, and other random contests, I really don’t win things in life. Notably achievement-like wins, that’s just not something that I do. Especially as a substitute teacher I can tell you that I was beyond shell shocked, and I had no idea a Gatorade bottle could make you speechless. The one humorous thing that did follow was noting that the seventh and eighth grade teachers were suddenly curious as to who the random ginger in a hoodie was in the back of the room. It all took maybe twenty seconds total, but I will cherish those twenty seconds so, so deep in my heart.
The first session following was about assisting in increasing vocabulary retention…this session truly made my head hurt, and I was definitely the ‘slow one’ in the classroom. I couldn’t keep up the vernacular, and it truly required me to eat several pieces of humble pie through the short fifty minute session. The difficulty was promising in one area though, it showed me that there is so, so much for me to learn, and that’s encouraging.
After having my brain fried for fifty minutes I watered down my second session. I stepped into a classroom to watch an instructor instruct instructors on “Google Docs” (AKA Google Drive). I am pleased to say that my side hurt following because of the conversations I heard in the room:
What’s a tab?
What if I open something in Chrome instead of Safari?
Click and drag what?
How do I get back?
That doesn’t look like what my screen looks like.
It says I need to download something.
Yes, there is a still a tragic need for technology literacy within our educators in this country. They know their content, don’t get me wrong, they’re amazing at it. However, I fear without some reminder they’d struggle turning the computer on in the morning. The best part of this entire presentation was when the instructor saw me grinning in the back of the room, he proceeded to ask if I was familiar with Google Drive (Note: I built the entire Kansas City Shock business structure, documents, and press releases through Google Drive), of which I gave a confident “Yes”. In the end I wound up assisting the instructor through the presentation, ensuring no one downloaded something unfortunate onto their Mac Book.
The rest of the day was spent planning out classes for the week (ProTip: NEVER works according to schedule). It was so nice to see the teaching world from ‘behind the scenes’. I don’t know what awaits for my destiny, but moments like the ones I experienced this day make me hold a little tighter to my random dreams.