And like that – poof – January is gone. In my prior life as a software developer and leader of development teams, I would hold retrospectives after we finished a cycle of work to capture things that went well, other items that didn’t go to well, and then from those two lists we would derive a list of goals or action items for the next cycle.
I really enjoyed retrospectives, and felt they were one of the most valuable rituals our teams would hold. So I thought it would be fun to take that concept and apply it towards my substitute teaching as well. So here is my first attempt at a substitute retro.
First up, a quick look at where I was this past month. I find metrics to be a pretty important part of the retrospective process, and data and visualizations are just fun!
- 10 days of the month included time in the classroom
- 72 total hours spent in classrooms
- 6 days in middle schools
- 4 days in elementary schools
- 9 different grades taught ( K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 )
- 9 different classes ( 6th Grade Math, 3rd Grade, 8th Grade Humanities, Band, Dual Immersion, 1st Grade, SEL, ESL )
- 6 schools ( High Desert Middle School, Silver Rail Elementary, Pacific Crest Middle School, North Star Elementary, Ensworth Elementary )
In software retros, we would often call out things that went well during the development cycle. Here I think I’m just going to call out some magic moments I had during the past month – because overall the entire month went extremely well for me. The shoe seems to fit quite well, and I want to keep on wearing it!
The First Day Jitters
I will never forget my first day as a substitute. I need to write a full post about the day, but reading those first sub plans, and getting everything ready for that 6th grade Special Ed class will always be a vivid memory.
A Private Concert
When subbing in a band classroom, I had the honor of getting a private concert by the jazz band. What is even more special about the concert was my daughter is part of the band. I was blown away by the talented musicians in the band.
Curiosity and Surprises
I already shared about One Eyed Willie’s Treasure in a prior post, but seeing the excitement in the students to solve the math problems, and the awe when they saw all the cooooool stuff in the box was priceless.
Little Acts of Kindness
When spare time exists in an open period or at the end of the day, I always try and seek out ways to help teachers with little tasks. One day I got to put away some science materials, and I’ve had multiple opportunities to work on my artwork hanging skills too. But knowing that these little things help make space for our educators to work on other tasks is what makes it a ✨ moment.
All good things must come with some challenging things as well – and I did have some tough ( but still comical ) moments in the past month.
The Silent ELL Class
On my first day I also was asked to help in an ELL classroom during my open periods. I had to walk into the classroom “cold” – and there really were not any sub plans – and no helpers in the class that wanted to share what they had been working on. It was an ice cold room. I read aloud for the class, tried to start discussion about the book, but was only met with silence.
Show Me How You Feel
When helping in a Social Emotional Learning class, the first group that came through for the day was 5th graders. And as I shared before, things got a bit wild. Sometimes the wheels come off the bus, and you just have to hang on and make it through struggle-town.
Kicked Where It Counts
I got called in for an afternoon sub job for a 1st grade class. When I arrived, the students were at recess, and two of them came in quite upset. One of them announced to the class that someone had “kicked him in the penis” during recess. Life comes at you fast in grade 1 buddy.
So looking ahead to February, I just want to do more of it all! I would like to try and get in more full days at elementary schools – but kiddo transport coupled with the 7am start time makes it a bit tough to do. So I will keep my eyes open for later starts of afternoons in elementary land for now.
I did have a chance to teach a middle school science class, but I was already booked for that day. If possible I’d really be keen to teach science in February.
So hopefully I can stay healthy, and keep on subbing!