Friday, October 24, 2014

The Wrong Key

I was to cover a 7th grade science class for three days. I had some time the first day to scan all the lesson plans so I'd have some idea of what was to come. All was in order. Or so I thought.

Day 1 they were to work on a study guide for a test on day 3. It was on line graphs, bar graphs, and pie charts. Easy enough.

But one girl called me over to help her with a question. And I wasn't sure what the question meant.

This happens sometimes. I walk in cold to these classes, and I haven't been there when lectures were given. Sometimes I'm not exactly sure what the teacher is going for. I usually mask this by having the students consult their notes and ask them leading questions so that they can figure it out themselves. This works 99% of the time.

This was not one of those times.

It was a simple question, but which simple answer did the teacher want?

Oh, right, I had the key.

Day 2 we were to go over the study guide, and I was given a key for this purpose. (Some teachers remember to provide keys for assignments. Some don't.) All I needed was to go into my materials for day 2...

I found the key. For chapter 1.1 & 1.2. They were working on the study guide for chapter 1.3.

Panic time.

But then I remembered that the science teachers all do pretty much the same thing. And the teacher next door might just have what I needed. So I called her. And sure enough, she was able to answer the student's question.

(And a short time later, she sent a student with the correct key. Whew.)

I am so grateful to that student, though. Because if she hadn't asked the question that sent me scurrying to the key, I would not have known I had the wrong key. Until the next day when it was time to go over the study guide with the whole class.

That could have been ugly.

It's nice when things work out.


  1. Whew! Missed that bullet. I really don't like the new curriculum they're putting out, especially for math. The instructions are so vague that even a deciphering adult can't figure out what it is they want. I guess educational writers need beta reading and editors too, eh?

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

  2. Good that you used your "thinking" skills on how to solve this problem!


  3. I have to say, reading your stories gives me an all new appreciation for the substitute teachers we had in school. I remember students saying that if we had a substitute, we could get away with more. But you never stop to think about how hard it has to be for a teacher to walk in with only the most basic of information on what the students have been exposed to in the days leading up to that.

  4. I think in order to be a good sub, you have to be good at knowing what to do when the teacher doesn't leave you the right materials :)

  5. Tough, when there isn't a universal way of doing things in schools. Luckily it worked out this time.

    1. I don't know if there's a universal way of doing anything anywhere. We all just have to muddle along, I guess.

  6. It must be so hard for you sometimes. You'd have to be a mind reader in some cases I think. Good thinking asking the teacher next door!

    1. More often than not I just don't do something due to missing materials. I can't do it if they didn't leave me the right stuff, right?

  7. Glad you finally go the right key and all worked well. I swear you have to often fly by the seat of your pants


I appreciate your comments.

I respond to comments via email, unless your profile email is not enabled. Then, I'll reply in the comment thread. Eventually. Probably.