Charter School Teachers

There’s a bizzare thing about subs. We’re kind of invisible. The teachers and admin are happy to see us but they don’t really seem to think that we know much or can do much. As a result you end up observing a lot.

I took on a teaching job of sixth grade. It said it was one on one and I thought nothing of it. When I arrived I learned it was to be a “para” for a kid with learning disabilities. I was disappointed.

I’m not qualified to be this and so I just feel like I’m a babysitter at best. But then I started to realize that the kid has problems with certain subjects and limited on speech but he’s not stupid and just has some limits.

The nice thing is kids treated him pretty well and most of the time he needed help writing or keeping him on track and so I started to observe the school.

This school is renting space from an Adventist church. They are housed in the gym and use room dividers to create classrooms. There are about 30 kids to a grade. One class per grade. Kids generally get along. The eighth graders look older than 6th graders but it is as if the entire school is a middle school. They all seem somehow young.

The teachers are odd as well. They are not mature, not professional. The one I was with would through things at people, pretend to stab people with scissors and use demeaning names for kids. She would routinely get facts wrong and not check if they were right.

Other teachers would also say inappropriate things. Sometimes kids would want to do inappropriate things, like a 14 year old that wanted to hug a teacher (he said no).

In general the teachers seemed to have little control of the class. The kids pushed them non-stop, often being rude. Getting up in class, going to bathroom, throwing things, being disruptive.

A music teacher watched a student be completely rude and disruptive and did nothing until I offered to take him to the principal. A math teacher felt like he had to beg the kids to be attentive. There are low expectations, lack of hierarchy that sounds good but really is chaos. At the same time the teachers talk to the kids like they are first graders. They do work on a decent level but there is no standard that is expected of them.

That’s the beauty of a substitute, they see all schools, all teachers and can compare. A student teacher will observe one or two teachers for a long time, learn from them and get their class. One should really be a substitute before becoming a teacher.

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