Sunday, January 31, 2016

Telling Time

All day my fifth graders ask me what time it is. Besides recess, music, library time and that sort of thing that the whole class does together, many of them leave for tutoring and counseling. I think they have already learned to tell time but asking me is easier than reading the analog clock. So, I made little worksheet slips to hand out when I get that question. Four of them fit on one page. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My First Road Rage

In Oakland you can't just pull into any gas station, unless you are comfortable tuning out the tragic life story of a passing panhandler. I pretend to, but later I will be thinking, "Did her daughter really get kicked out of the homeless shelter for turning 13? No, right? But did she?" That is why I always go to a particular gas station near my house that is panhandler free and just normal.

For the past few days it has had a long line, so I thought today would be a good day to go since I was getting home after commute hours. There was a line six cars into traffic. There were people filling gas cans on the ground. The price was $1.99, less than I have ever paid. I wasn't in a hurry but as I waited and waited, I felt sort of panicked because traffic is dangerous and I would never normally go into a traffic jam like that and then get out of my car. I needed gas very badly because this station has been busy for days.

 Actually pumping gas was fine, even though there was a lot on the ground. It only took $25 so I almost topped it off before I remembered the reason. But on my way out, someone in a big green truck started backing into the spot I was in, and someone had already pulled in behind me so I honked to let both know what was happening. The driver of the green truck signaled for me to go around so I put my signal on to show I understood, and then he kept reversing at me! I leaned on the horn, reversed, and drove away. I was already angry that I had to go to the gas station when I could see it would make me uncomfortable, and then that guy was too eager to line jump to even drive safely. I was furious.

 On my way home I asked myself rhetorically why anyone would do that and realized he might be very desperate, and I swung the car around and drove back to give him whatever was in my wallet, like, go to hell if you need money. (Those are not my real feelings, just the feelings I was having right then.) Anyway he was still there when I got back (see also: big truck) but after I parked and watched traffic for a second to make sure nothing weird was happening he started to pull out. I was still so mad that I walked out onto the meridian and waited for him. I said, really forcefully, "Excuse me sir, can I talk to you?" and he said, "No, I ain't got nothing." and left. So that was satisfying.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Why We Learn Spanish

I thought I would spend my substitute teaching year trying all different subjects and grades. However, when I was asked to stay at a school which needs someone until March, I accepted. The teachers I have met have a hard line against having their free time exploited, refusing to take on uncompensated or minimally compensated extra duties, and insisting on taking their duty free lunch breaks. I am new enough and inexperienced enough that I am spending hours every day trying to get myself up to speed.

I supervise the kids at most of their electives, but one is designated prep time for me. It is at the end of the day on Friday, so I don't need the time to photocopy things or review my lesson plan. However, because the other teachers consider prep sacrosanct, I was taking it anyway.

 Last week my charges terrorized each other during my prep period so I offered to supervise them this week. While I was there I looked around and realized how lucky I was to get to sit in on a Spanish lesson. Prior to yesterday, if someone asked me to teach Spanish at a 65% English Language Learner school I would cry. (Not that I would sign up for it, but sometimes the listing is wrong. I have been put into a PE class before.) But now I know the secret to teaching 32 children with probably 10 different levels of fluency and 10 reading levels is to have them make duolingo accounts and take assessments.

In addition to attending Spanish to help the students settle in, I prepped them right before class. I vaguely planned all day to discuss Why We Learn Spanish but I made it all the way to the portable before I actually did it. Getting them to make a circle on the playground is hard and some were running and playing instead of listening to their classmates, so I asked the boys for a ball to use as a talking tool. They came up with a full size football. I had my purse and binder under my arm- the ground was wet so I couldn't set anything down- so I needed it lobbed to me. The children had to retrieve it when it fell through my hands, but it attracted the attention of the wayward ones. We answered two questions, "Why do we learn Spanish?" and "Where do people speak Spanish?" And honestly it was so sweet.