Thursday, October 2, 2008


Today I covered a special ed. middle school language arts class. They were watching The Secret Garden. They were supposed to be describing various elements of the story: plot, setting, conflict, climax, and resolution. I thought it was a good lesson for this group.

I've been reading through The Substitute Teacher's Survival Guide (STSG). I've had the book for a while, but I hadn't gotten around to reading it before now. I've been busy this week, but I do have some downtime, and I'd gotten through most of my usual reading material.

So, it was fourth period. I had not had any problems with the previous groups. This class, however, was bored by the movie. They explained that they had seen the movie last year, and they weren't having any of the assignment. I continued to shush them anyway.

The girl whose desk was directly in front of me had her back to me. She was talking to the girl behind her. I told her to turn around. She did for about thirty seconds, and then she turned back to her friend. I warned her that if she continued to turn around, talk, and generally disobey me, I would have to move her away from her friend. She turned around to talk again.

I am generally an easygoing person. But these were eighth graders. And I was being ignored. I told the girl where she needed to move to. She took her time getting there.

They play this game. They s l o w l y pack up their stuff in the hopes that I will tire of waiting for them. Then, when my attention is diverted, they sit right back where they were before and play it like they've forgotten what I told them to do or they act as if they're getting there eventually. ("Oh, you were serious about me moving?") So, when another student told the girl to sit down, I informed the other student that the girl was moving with an emphasis to the girl that she had better get moving.

STSG is a very funny book. I'm not getting a lot of advice out of it, but I identify with the situations that the authors describe. When the girl finally did move to the seat that I had told her to go to, she turned to me and shot me such a look of jaditude that I just about lost it to laughter.

The authors of the book have their own vocabulary. Jaditude is a junior high school bad attitude. Since the schools in my district are middle schools... Well, I like jaditude so I'm going to use it.

In retrospect, I probably should have laughed out loud when the girl shot me her jaditude. She thought she was being so tough, so cool. A little laughter might have... Well, it probably would have backfired anyway.

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