The daily musings of a substitute teacher in East Central Illinois.

Observing Change and Growth

Today I was a 5th grade teacher at Robeson Elementary in Champaign, but not for my mother-in-law.  I was subbing for the teacher across the hall from her, who I have known for as long as I have been working as a substitute. I was a bit worried about the assignment because some of her students were absolute hellions while in 4th grade and I had worked with them several times throughout that year. However, I took the assignment realising that a) people change and b) I needed the work. Possibly more of the latter, but at least partly because of the former.

I am so glad that I did! I had a wonderful day with her class! Her students were well-behaved, fun, and the worked hard all day–so much so, in fact, that I was able to give them the last 15-20 minutes of the day as free time. We did science, reading, math, spelling, and English, and all the lessons went well. I had some troubles with two students, but nothing so dramatic as to make me want to smash my head against a wall. Most of the students were just good. Very few stood out as being exceptionally well-behaved, but that is because all of them were.

But there was one girl in particular that really took me by surprise. Of all the kids who drove me crazy last year, she was the ring-leaders. While in 4th grade, she would yell and scream at me, refuse to work, disrupt other students, throw things at me, and generally made my day miserable. She was none of those things today. In fact, she was the exact opposite. She was the first to start working and to volunteer to provide answers or to read, she helped her classmates with their work, she helped encourage her classmates to stay on task, and she generally made my day absolutely wonderful. Her mum came in at the end of the day and asked how her day went. I was incredibly pleased to be able to tell this girl’s mother that her daughter had a great day, and that I was so impressed with how much she has grown and matured over the past year.

It was really great seeing how all of these students have changed and grown since last year. Many of them were in this troublesome class, and it was awesome seeing how different they were. At the end of the day, I did a brief Awareness of Process exercise with them. I asked what went well during the day, what didn’t work well, and what they could do next time to improve. They responded in a mature and responsible way. All in all, this was a wonderful way to wrap up my week!

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