Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Si, Habla Espanol!

Whew! Through with day two.

I started from scratch with the first class today, because first period yesterday was a bust. After that, another class came in and had already done the colors. So at the end of second period, I suddenly thought to myself, wait, I had a second-period prep yesterday, what's going on? Yikes. There was no class third period, so I visited a mentor down the hall, and she explained the schedule--eight periods a day, and the kids all stay together, based out of their homerooms. Each day has a different schedule.

Altogether, today was alright. I did some review of the alphabet, an evaluation of yesterday's "lesson," if you will. I asked them to turn to neighbors and then spell out their names, using Spanish letters. It kind of failed. They could copy down the spelling of pronunciations that I had put on the board, but many of them didn't know how to say them. Or at least they needed prompting and reminding. So maybe tomorrow I'll go over more vocabulary and also then spell the vocabulary words.

Oh, and the dean of the floor has an office next to this room, so he comes in sometimes to address a behavior problem that he spots. Later, during a prep, I was chatting with him, and told him I don't actually speak any Spanish. He was all, no way, you sound like you do! He looked impressed and I was very flattered. At least I am teaching the kids authentic-sounding Spanish basics. Though today I started to worry that I was using an Italian accent/style in some words.

The classes mostly responded to my "Silencio, por favor!"s. They would at least get quieter, if not completely silent. One or two students would automatically repeat it, though, because we'd been doing that with other things. I felt kind of bad about that, it was apparently misleading for some students. But like I said, most of them are getting the hang of it.

I had three prep periods/lunch in a row, then one class. The day was sort of spoiled for me by that last class. It was the huge one from first period yesterday. It's actually two classes, and another teacher told me that one of them is for special needs. (Glad I got the memo on that. Like subs have any expectations otherwise, right?) But good lord, it was a disaster. Kids getting up, walking around, out the door and back in, nonstop noise. The students in the front of the room (which were almost all girls, I think) were paying attention, and were also disrupted at the noise from the back half of the classroom. I went over the alphabet with them, because they got nothing yesterday. For about ten seconds during that recitation, I had the entire class's attention, and there was no extraneous noise. Before we even got to Z (zeta--seta), a couple students began whispering/chattering/talking again. My throat hurts. They mostly ignored the "Silencio"s. I was at a loss, I was very irritated at them, at the lack of equipment in the classroom, and of course, angry and disappointed in myself for not getting control of them at all, let alone effectively. I need more tools. And token economies and behavior charts are all well and good, but for a substitute to eighth-graders, I have no power. I don't know if I'll be in that classroom tomorrow, I certainly don't know any names to note or report the many behavior problems.

So I'm trying to let that anger and disappointment go, and remember that I felt like I was making a little progress with the other classes. I will try to ask for help about that huge disruptive class. I might even let go of the Spanish and try something different. I can't help almost wishing I would go to another classroom tomorrow, so that I can just forget the problem. Because, like I said yesterday, it is not legal for me to be hired for this position. The school supposedly doesn't have any vacancies, although the Spanish classes have yet to have a permanent teacher. But what if the region can't find me a permanent spot for awhile and this school keeps me as a long-term sub...god, can I teach Spanish for more than a week?

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