Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The (Substitute) Teacher (Day 13): The Truth

As I do more and more teaching, I discover not only fitting into the role better, but that this might just be the right job for me (full-time teaching, that is). I mention this right now, therefore: I am an introvert. My voice doesn't carry that loudly and I prefer to keep it a low profile. So it is kinda funny I'm considering teaching at all: you have to maintain order in the classroom as you teach your subject to your students. If you're perceived as soft or too easy going, kids will eat you alive.

So, teaching Physical Education means you have to keep on your guard. Through promotion of healthy bodies, students seem to consider a substitute as a rare opportunity to do whatever they want to do. As this happened to be the second time I subbed at this particular school and therefore recognized certain students, I knew what to expect. I felt I was more assertive this time around compared to my first time, yet I still maintained a sense of ease: I want to exhibit a sense that I'm easy going and approachable for a talk. This method worked out just fine for most of the periods I taught, as the kids went through their daily stretches and runs.

The final period proved to be the troublesome one. They seemed to prefer anarchy with their regular teacher out for the day. This period was where I got more forceful, shouting out at the students for misbehaving or not following instructions; to be frank, it was a bit draining to have been forced to do that due to their wild streak. This period was meant to be used for students to get a jump start on homework or ask for assistance on problems they had; instead, students preferred playing with their pens enacting five finger fillet, talking, or being downright disruptive.

In any case, the period was survived and the rest of the day went comfortably. Near the end of the school day, I was looking back at it and reflected that I did a better job in asserting myself than my past jobs. However, honesty is found in even the young, as I found out this day. A student from one of my earlier classes, who happened to be in this period too, approached me at the end of the day, thanked me for subbing, and was good enough to impart the following critique:

"You're a nice sub, but you need to be more forceful."

After subbing for a good amount of days and getting positive feedback from administrations of those schools, it was humbling to be reminded that the students ultimately get the final say in a teacher's performance. The good student wants to learn and therefore wants to avoid the distraction other students may present. The bad student doesn't want to be there and the job falls on the teacher to show the reasons the student needs to be there. If I can't be assertive enough and juggle the right amount of easiness and friendliness, I really have no business teaching.

I thanked the student for her honesty and told her I would work on it. We'll see how it works out the next time I sub.