Saturday, April 09, 2011

Scramble!

Earlier this week my wife came down with a low grade fever.  We figured that it would be like most little flu bugs and be gone fairly quickly.  Well on Wednesday morning the fever went to 102 and lots of signs pointed to a doctor visit………at 8:30 in the morning.  My wife was in little condition to drive, or do much else, and it required me to miss school. 

Contrary to what you might believe, I hate missing school.  It’s a whole lot of work prepping for a substitute that is totally unfamiliar with how my classroom functions.  And I refuse to be one of those teachers that leaves nothing, or simply says “Plug in the Lion King” for all my classes.  I was a sub for a year and believe me, the experience is very rough. 

I woke up at my usual 5 a.m. time to find my wife really not doing well.  I didn’t bother to shower and hopped in the car with shorts and hoodie, and head to school.  A benefit of being close to school is that one can get in and get out fairly quickly.  I arrived and told my assistant principle the situation.  Fortunately, I don’t have the reputation of missing school often, so I’m not worried about what the administration might think.  Next I left a note for the person in charge of dealing with substitutes at the school.  I hustled into the classroom and immediately signed into the district online SubFinder program.  The easy part was complete, now for the work.  This was going to be the “crash” day of Every 15 Minutes.  That meant a bizarre schedule and only thirty minute classes.  I needed to find meaningful lessons that were quick and easy to assign, but that actually had some relevance to the subject matter.  AP Comparative Government was actually easy.  The students had a review sheet due later in the week, and thirty minutes of class time to work on the sheet in their group would thrill them.  That was one.  AP U.S. History had a class set of textbooks and also would love class time to catch up on reading.  That’s two.  Economics was a different battle.  I don’t have a class set of Economics textbooks and just about every worksheet on Market Structures was either for a Junior High School kid or someone in Advanced Placement.  I struggled with finding a good lesson and then realized that I could relate something to a recent video clip we looked at about working at the Googleplex in Mountain View.  I went to Izzit.org and printed out and article from the New York Times about students making their own curriculum in high school.  The piece came with some thought provoking questions that, when complete, provided for good conversation.  I finished with writing the days agenda on the White Board and writing up the directions for the sub.  In all, it took about 50 minutes.

The lessons worked and student behavior was good.  APUSH stayed ahead, Comp Gov got the assignment complete (and did well on a quiz this week), and the Econ assignment created an excellent debrief.  The work was well worth it.  Oh, and it wasn’t like I was on vacation at home.  Ever take care of a sick spouse? 

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