Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dryness, Stephen Colbert, and supply teaching.

Has anyone else noticed how freakin' dry the air is these days? Like, ChapStick-inducingly dry? It is seriously damn dry out there.

Stephen Colbert's address at the Washington Press Corps dinner — with Bush, Rove & Co. in the room — was nothing short of ballsy and brilliant. It's one thing to mock the Idiocy Of Dubya to a cheering audience on your own TV show, but it's a whole other level of cojones to do it while standing six feet from the most powerful man in the world. My adoration for Colbert went up from "willing to wash his car and buy him a beer" to "willing to bear his children even though it's not anatomically possible." YouTube has a copy; I'm sure you can find it.

For the last two days, I've been a supply teacher. It's definitely a change in my normal teaching routine, that's for sure — you can leave at 3:30, there's no marking, and you don't really know the subject material. (For instance, on Monday it was African History and a Sociology-ish class, and today it was a whole lotta Art.)

However, one of the things that crossed my mind recently was the fact that, if you're trying to improve as an educator — and I am — supply-teaching is no way to do it. You're starting over anew every day, which means you can't build on anything you did the previous day. If your teaching blows, nobody's going to tell you about it; you're in, you do your thing, you get out, and you'll likely never see those kids ever again.

Most importantly, though... because every time with a class is a one-shot deal, you can't bond with the students at all, and form that incredibly crucial teacher-learner relationship. Kids won't give you the time of day if they don't trust you as a person and as a professional, and this trust can only be built up over days, weeks and months.

This is exactly why classes treat supply teachers like crap: they don't see them as a person, they only see them as "that thing that comes in that we don't know who tries to make us do stuff." My challenge — and I think I've managed fairly well so far — is to show them very quickly that I know what the situation is (i.e., that I'm an intruder to their class), but hey, we've got some stuff to get through, so let's get through it, and we'll try to cause as little permanent physical damage as possible.


kelly o! said...

what kind of art?

JTL said...

The Renaissance. Good artists, man.

magpie & cake said...

I'm watching the YouTube movie of the Stephen Colbert speech, and I'm recoiling from my screen in fear... I heard about this on the radio, but I had no idea that Bush is sitting only TEN FEET AWAY from him, and Colbert is making EYE CONTACT with him while he's so scathing and sarcastic and bitingly critical of him! Talk about balls. Jesus. -Lindsay.

kelly o! said...

art history. meh. i was hoping that you were getting some paint all over yourself. = P

Alistair McCrone said...

Well it is interesting to see that supply teaching in Canada is the same as in the UK. I believe that supply teaching in the UK is about biulding those bridges. We have teachers at Premier Education that we send back to the same class when we can and that helps to build trust with the pupils.

Alistair McCrone
Premier Education