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

Best. Day. Ever.

Today I was an 8th grade literacy teacher at Edison Middle School in Champaign. I have had awesome experiences again and again at Edison, but they have apparently all been with the sixth and seventh graders. I base this comment on the fact that, apparently, very few of the eighth graders knew who I was. This changed quickly as I had opportunities to share about myself as the students got to know me. I have learned that, even in a middle school, it pays to share myself with the students before I start teaching. It lets them know who I am and what they can expect from me during the day. Usually I only have to tell the first class period about this and everyone in the grade level knows.

I am super happy to report that the 8th graders at Edison (and yes, I realise that I keep switching between writing 8th and eighth) are just as awesome as the other students in the building. I don’t know everyone yet, but I certainly know the majority of them. I had six class periods in all, putting me into contact with roughly 150 students. There were only two students who displayed inappropriate behaviour during the day. I kid you not when I say that I would be thrilled if my classes always had 98% of the students demonstrate responsibility, respect, engagement, focus, and maturity. Today was definitely the best day I have ever had with middle school students in Champaign and it ranks incredibly high among the best days I have ever had as a professional educator.

Oh, and about sharing about myself? It turns out that, just like everybody else, these students were all quite enamoured by my hair. I know I need a hair cut soon, but it isn’t the volume of my hair that surprises them and captivates their young minds. It is the curliness. Two items I was given today should illustrate this quite well. They were both made by the 8th grade students in the first period of the day. I promised I would keep both in my folder with other artwork I have been given by my students.

Notes and pictures from 8th grade students at Edison Middle School in Champaign, IL.

Picture from Maddy, an 8th grade student at Edison Middle School in Champaign, IL

(Click on each image to zoom in.)

So yes, today was definitely an excellent day to be teaching!


5 responses

  1. I’m not inclined to call anyone out on their math skills, but I’m fairly certain 2 out of 150 leaves closer to 99%, which only improves your score.

    Really, I’m glad you had a good day.

    But I couldn’t help but think, when you wrote about their fascination with your springy locks, of the reactions many primitives have toward the strange and alien explorer or conquistador newly arrived in their midst.

    I am curious though about this sharing. Do you share private details? Do you have a shtick you go through, a sort of talking-points? Do you say whatever comes to mind in the moment? Do you have any philosophically-based reasons for sharing what you share? Do you, perhaps, make interesting stuff up?

    When did you escape from the Turkish prison, by the way?

    February 23, 2011 at 9:42 pm

  2. 98 2/3%, but since I probably had slightly more than 150 students, I decided to round down.

    I have a few key points I tend to share with every class, such as how I prefer to be addressed (Mr. Valencic, Mr. V, or sir; not hey you, Mr. Teacher Dude, Shaggy, Mr. Vlassic, or any variation of my name that is not accurate), how long I’ve been teaching professionally, and then I kind of transition into questions students have for me (which often focus on my hair for some reason), and I try to get in there early on that I am married.

    I never make up interesting stuff. No need to. I have, after all, been struck by lightning.

    I definitely agree that the differentness that is me in general has much to do with the fascination with my hair. I don’t think any other teacher actually looks like me. And I don’t know what led Maddy to draw me in that way. (Note the lack of glasses.)

    February 23, 2011 at 9:51 pm

  3. marginwight

    I note that you avoided that question about the Turkish prison. Are you currently or have you ever been in an Ottoman witness protection program?

    February 23, 2011 at 9:57 pm

  4. I didn’t realise I had avoided the question. No, I have never been affiliated with any Turkish or Ottoman prisons or WPPs that I am aware of.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:03 pm

  5. marginwight

    Note my cool new “vintage” gravatar. Nanner nanner nanner!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm

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