Thursday, April 22, 2010


One of these days I'll do a full blog devoted to the adventures of substitute teaching.  I've come to the conclusion that you almost have to be a certain breed of human being to do, and enjoy, this particular work.  For today, though, I'll leave you with a story:
So, yesterday I was substitute teaching in the elementary school.  First grade, to be exact.  I tend to read people pretty well.  I can 'peg' the 'troublemakers' right off the bat, usually, I can quickly figure out those who need extra help, those who don't need extra help, and those who know that they don't need extra help.  Like I said, I can read people. 
This particular story takes place in the afternoon, well after I've had this whole classroom of students all day.  By this point I've pretty much figured them out, at least the important teacher things that one would need to know for the day.  And it was reading time. 
There were several pages in their reading book they were reading, and I was calling on students to read a page at a time.  After each page the students would raise their hand for me to call on them to read.  Of all the students, one particular student urgently raised his hand each time. 
I'll be honest, I avoided him for awhile.  I knew which reading group he was in.  I'd had him at my desk once already that day with complications reading words the other kids breezed through.  I knew he'd have huge problems and, honestly, I didn't want that embarrassment for him.  But he kept raising his hand. 
I must interject at this point that next to this particular student sat another student.  He was in the 'other' reading group.  He had flown through all of his work all day.  He was well liked, well groomed, well mannered, and well studied.  Everything in him shouted it. 
Okay, back to the story.
Finally, I realized I was not going to avoid student a's urgent request to read.  So I found a short page, and I called on him.  One girl in the front row rolled her eyes.  Other students had already 'told' him the first word before he even had the chance to look at the page.  That urked me, at least give him a chance.  And you know me, I say everything, so I said that, "Guys, hush, it's not your turn to read, it's his.  Let him read."  And it grew quiet... as this student stumbled over every word slowly. 
But when I looked up, I saw this popular classmate leaning in behind him, waiting a few seconds for him to get each word and, if he couldnt, whispering it under his breath.  No one else in the class knew what was going on... but with the assistance of his classmate Student A read that page and he read it well.
But that's not the only noble deed that came from student B.  Student B offered to read next, and this particular student who had succeeded all day in class, had read with a breeze earlier, had flown through his math problems, well, he stumbled over his words, and he looked at Student A for the same help he had offered to him just before.  I was speechless.  I didn't know how to feel.  On one hand, frustrated.  Just because he doesn't do well doesn't mean you can't either.  That doesn't help you at all.  But on the other hand, joyful.  This first grade student was doing all he knew to do to help and feel with another classmate. 
All in all, it was a blessing for me to experience.   The blessing was in the care that one 1st grader felt for another. 

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