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thecoast thecoast is offline
 
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New job, new company, newbie (sort of)
Old 08-29-2017, 09:29 PM
 
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So I got an offer from DirectEd to start with them as a substitute for K-12 in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. I had been applying for a position since February (when I got my 30-day substitute teaching permit) in San Bernardino County with no luck. But as soon as I changed the mileage on indeed.com from a 25-mile radius to a 50-mile radius, I was able to see DirectEd opportunities for sub teaching. I applied. That same week, I had a phone interview and a WebCam interview and a job offer. I've done the paperwork, done LiveScan, and I'm waiting on TB test results this week. I've made myself available for K-12 subbing. For now.

I want to share some background about me and then I have a concern I want to voice and ask perspective about.

-I've got a broken arm in a cast. 4 more weeks of it. Frustrating, to put it mildly.
-I'm 55. Career changer. However, most people think I look 15 or 20 years younger. Not bragging, just my experience. Mom's genes?
-I've got a bachelors degree in theology, a master of divinity, and I'm all but dissertation for a PhD in psychology (education track).
-Together with my wife, we home-schooled our 2 daughters from first through twelfth grades. (They both successfully completed graduate school).
-When I was a pastor and then a chaplain in the military, I tended to teach rather than to preach.
-I'm good with technology (for example, I'm using Dragon NaturallySpeaking to turn my speech into text--remember the broken arm) and I'm generally quick on my feet.
-I've been deployed as an Army Reserve chaplain to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cuba. (I'm no longer in the military).
-Lastly, I love puns and corny humor.

That said, I have some concerns--some that I think are normal and legitimate, and some that are very serious and have me in a state of trepidation. My very serious concerns are mainly with the older kids. I've heard some teen-aged friends from church talk about kids who decide to challenge a teacher about their (the kids') gender identity. I believe in science and DNA: if your birth certificate says you're a boy, then you're a he; and if your birth certificate says you're a girl, then you're a she. I don't believe in endorsing false self-perceptions. Don't get me wrong: In the context of a secular society, I get that a person can identify themselves any way they want; by the same token, that doesn't mean I have to do it that way for them. As someone once famously said, 'your rights end where my nose begins.'

Has anybody had any experience with the gender self-identification situation? And I mean to ask the experience of people who have similar sentiments to mine. Because, obviously, if you don't have a problem with it, then that perspective is not really useful to me.

I have some other more mundane things I'd like to ask about, but I figured I'd start with something that could be significant in terms of longevity (or brevity, as the case may be) in this career.


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separate beliefs
Old 08-30-2017, 02:43 AM
 
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Well welcome. It sounds to me like the aspect of your faith really means a great deal to you. First of all, I wouldn't let any minor issue derail me from doing a job. A job is a job so that comes first. It's about the safety and care of students you're supervising and if learning happens along the way, wonderful.

If you are not settled with that, have you also considered doing work in private schools or other schools of faith? You can combine the best of both worlds too.
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Old 08-30-2017, 05:34 AM
 
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One of the High Schools I sub at has a transgender teacher. About five years ago this teacher was Mr. LastName and now is Ms. LastName. Would you challenge this teacher, and make it a point to use masculine pronouns with her? Hmm.. yes, I could see where it could become an issue.

I have also come across students who identify as a gender different to that on their birth certificate. Rare, but it has happened, so I do think you are right to consider this to be a legitimate concern. Honestly, I think if you act on your beliefs it could end up progressing into a situation where you would be asked to leave the school.

I know you said you did not want to hear from people who do not agree with you, so I am sorry if this information is not useful to you.
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I can relate
Old 08-30-2017, 05:57 AM
 
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As someone who taught in a private Christian school for many many years, I can relate. I substitute for older students, only teenagers and yes their attitudes can be very difficult; you just have to let it roll off of your back. As for the other issues, you pretty much need to just be kind and respectful , go with the flow and do not engage in conversations that would put you in the position of having to agree with or disagree with their choices. Call students by whatever name they want to go by and avoid gender related pronouns. Since there are many times I really cannot tell the gender of a student, I often use phrases like "It is that student's turn", "That student can do that", especially if as a sub I do not know names or gender. etc. it is a different world in the classroom nowadays.
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:28 AM
 
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My job is to follow the lesson plan, ensure student safety and be respectful to all. My feelings are not part of the job description.


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Old 08-30-2017, 10:39 AM
 
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Congrats on the new job. We have a few students who do not conform to gender norms, but it has not been an issue to me so far. If at all in doubt, I avoid gender specific pronouns. If you don't make an issue of it, they probably won't either. If for some reason they were supposed to separate into groups of boys and girls, I would not insist that anyone change groups. I have had to do a double take on the seating chart a few times. At this age, you will not be in charge of which restroom they use. Interesting hypothetical about addressing an adult as Mr. or Ms. I would probably try hard to avoid that too.

Bottom line, if you want to work, you'll need to avoid creating a problem where none needs to exist, particularly a topic like this where the school could have legal repercussions. Showing fairness and compassion (different than agreement and encouragement) will go a long way with kids this age.
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:17 AM
 
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I have had 2 transgender students. Please be respectful and call them by their preferred name. One girl requested before I took roll that I use her new name "Kyle." He thanked me after class. And I told her I'm gay. I normally don't broadcast it, but I felt comfortable in this situation as it's large, diverse high school.
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I have had experience
Old 08-30-2017, 12:37 PM
 
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I taught middle school for around 20 years, just when students are beginning to really come "into their own". I have had students identify as gay/lesbian. LOTS of students over the years. Most of them were easily identified. Even now, when I sub, I can identify gay boys and lesbian girls, even if they don't acknowledge it. Doesn't change a thing about how I teach. I have had ONE student who identified differently (girl identifying as boy). I truly believe that there is a 'hiccup' in her genes. She is in high school now, and identifies as male. Her voice is deeper and she has not developed normally as a girl would. She asked to be called "Bro" instead of "Brooke" (I changed the names). And you know what? It doesn't make a difference. So my views aren't what you want. But, kids are kids. They all want to learn. It is our job to do this. Just like we teach differently abled or those with awful home lives or those who are from different cultures. It is not our job to judge. It is our job to teach.
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sometimes
Old 08-30-2017, 03:07 PM
 
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particularly with older elementary age children, it isn't easy to quickly identify their gender. I have a vivid memory of being stopped by a few 5th graders after school and being asked "does she look like a boy or a girl?" Apparently the girl was tired of being referred to as he. I managed the reply thanks to the give away pronoun. I've also had boys with very long hair, Native American and not. Sometimes you simply can't tell the gender.

I do a lot of pointing to indicate who is to answer to avoid the issue entirely. You can also make yourself a quick seating chart picture of the classroom and fill in the names as they respond to roll. I have the students raise their hand so I see who is responding. I also ask that only the person being called answer, only that person can correct my pronunciation of their name. Some older kids like to change desks to confuse a sub. The class response to calling them the wrong name a few times lets you know who has swapped. You can use the seating chart to call people by name--first name, avoiding Mr. or Miss _______ .

I can understand your reservations given all the media coverage about gender ID. I think it comes up much less frequently than controversy would indicate. I hope this doesn't sound flip, but since you won't have access to anyone's birth certificate, I'd go with names and pointing. You may well be asked to call someone by a nick name and that will help foster a bit of a relationship.

Correctly pronouncing names from a myriad of countries will likely be more of a challenge.
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Teaching not preaching
Old 08-30-2017, 03:27 PM
 
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"Don't get me wrong: In the context of a secular society, I get that a person can identify themselves any way they want; by the same token, that doesn't mean I have to do it that way for them. As someone once famously said, 'your rights end where my nose begins.'

Has anybody had any experience with the gender self-identification situation? And I mean to ask the experience of people who have similar sentiments to mine."

What does the bible say about love... love thy neighbor...? We don't have to condone someone's lifestyle choices to treat them with respect and love.

In other jobs we are cautioned to abide by the rules of the organization in which we are employed. We can have a disclaimer that the views of the organization in which we are employed are not necessarily ours because we are not spokespersons for the company. Some companies consider it proselytization when one talks about religious beliefs on their premises.

Didn't you have to deal with this in the military as a chaplain?

As a substitute teacher, call on a student by name and leave it at that.


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Old 08-30-2017, 03:43 PM
 
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It's my job to teach the students, ALL the students, regardless of gender, so I don't see what the issue is. You teach them all the same and your opinion of what they wear, who they hang out with, what their religious beliefs are, what race they are, what gender they identify with or what their sexual preference is should have no bearing on how you teach them or how you treat them. If it does...you may want to reconsider the profession.
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Not judging. And not wanting to be judged
Old 08-30-2017, 08:42 PM
 
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I appreciate what you are saying, though it does not address the issue I raised. As I said, people have the right in a secular society to believe what they wish. I served to defend and preserve that right. I also served to preserve and defend my right to do the same without judging or being judged.
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Teaching, not preaching
Old 08-30-2017, 08:57 PM
 
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Teaching, not preaching is right. I wanted advice from kindred spirits precisely to avoid somebody preaching at me their beliefs or lack thereof. I simply want to know how someone with similar convictions has dealt with the particular situation I raised. I own my convictions and revealing them as a context served also as my statement of transparency. As I said elsewhere, I served in defense and preservation of people's rights, including my own. Is the latter a bad thing?
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Correct
Old 08-30-2017, 09:07 PM
 
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Correct, Subinnc. And because, as you yourself stated, you don't see what the issue is, your perspective can't really be an answer to the issue as I quite specifically raised it. Believe me, life would be so much easier if I just kept my head down to avoid being a target. But I sincerely would like to teach and be wisely respectful of others while not losing self respect. Is that too much to ask for?
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Thanks for your thoughtful reply
Old 08-30-2017, 09:33 PM
 
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Thanks for your thoughtful reply, broomrider. Very practical, very wise. I felt you heard and understood me. Again, thank you.
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Thanks for the welcome
Old 08-30-2017, 09:43 PM
 
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Thanks for the welcome. I appreciate your focus on safety.
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Old 08-31-2017, 03:56 PM
 
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I'm unclear of what sort of answer you are looking for. My response absolutely was an answer to your "issue." No "issues" with any kids should be brought to the classroom. If leaving your personal opinions at the door is too much to ask, then you really may want to consider a different setting than public school. Let me ask you this...could you teach a child who was open about an atheist? Or a Muslim? Or a lesbian? If not, you are doing those students (and probably yourself) a disservice.
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Clear answer
Old 08-31-2017, 07:21 PM
 
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Subinnc, here's broomrider's answer, an example of the kind of answer I was looking for:

"Sometimes particularly with older elementary age children, it isn't easy to quickly identify their gender. I have a vivid memory of being stopped by a few 5th graders after school and being asked "does she look like a boy or a girl?" Apparently the girl was tired of being referred to as he. I managed the reply thanks to the give away pronoun. I've also had boys with very long hair, Native American and not. Sometimes you simply can't tell the gender.

"I do a lot of pointing to indicate who is to answer to avoid the issue entirely. You can also make yourself a quick seating chart picture of the classroom and fill in the names as they respond to roll. I have the students raise their hand so I see who is responding. I also ask that only the person being called answer, only that person can correct my pronunciation of their name. Some older kids like to change desks to confuse a sub. The class response to calling them the wrong name a few times lets you know who has swapped. You can use the seating chart to call people by name--first name, avoiding Mr. or Miss _______ .

"I can understand your reservations given all the media coverage about gender ID. I think it comes up much less frequently than controversy would indicate. I hope this doesn't sound flip, but since you won't have access to anyone's birth certificate, I'd go with names and pointing. You may well be asked to call someone by a nick name and that will help foster a bit of a relationship."
==========

You asked some questions: "Let me ask you this...could you teach a child who was open about [being] an atheist? Or a Muslim? Or a lesbian?"

I have no problems teaching kids who are of any theological or philosophical persuasion. And if a teenager was sexually disoriented in one direction or another and was open about it, how could I have a problem with that? It is what it is. In fact, one of my daughters is sexually disoriented. As long as she or anyone else do not ask me to participate against my will in their beliefs about life or about themselves, I'm good. So, for example, if one is a young man but thinks he's a young woman, no problem for me. It's his belief. I should not (and don't) require him to believe and participate in my beliefs. And neither should he require me to believe and participate in his beliefs. As long as respect for beliefs is a two-way street, there should be no problem. Does that make sense?
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Responses to potential challengers
Old 09-01-2017, 10:49 AM
 
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"My very serious concerns are mainly with the older kids. I've heard some teen-aged friends from church talk about kids who decide to challenge a teacher about their (the kids') gender identity."

I think I get it now... are you looking for responses to potential challenges from students with opposing beliefs?

You might never be challenged... I wear my christian beliefs as cross earrings AND in my actions in the way I try to consistently treat ALL students the same with respect... and use rules and consequences for inappropriate classroom behavior. I've dealt with elementary and middle school students. I have never been challenged.

To be proactive, perhaps you should discuss this issue with the teenagers from your church to find out in more detail what is being said and how teachers are being targeted/challenged.

Then you could reflect more on how this additional information relates to you.

I would caution you to NOT sink to a student's level of animosity/sarcasm/.... whatever.... it could be a setup... students love to RECORD teachers' responses to share on Social Media websites.
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Old 09-01-2017, 01:49 PM
 
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Quote:
I've heard some teen-aged friends from church talk about kids who decide to challenge a teacher about their (the kids') gender identity.
Interesting that I came across this topic today because I had this discussion in a high school today. The teacher I was talking to mentioned a girl (I think the person is a girl) who has challenged teachers in regard to how they refer to her. I had this person in class last week without issue.

I don't view it as a big issue since I have run into numerous students in middle school and high school who I am unsure about their sex. Often times the name also does not give you a clue. I have been able to deal with students and this has not yet turned into a problem.

Times have changed a great deal since I graduated from high school in 1973. The issues schools have to deal with today were unheard of when I attended school. If you are going to work in a public school, and also many private schools, you have no choice but to deal with these changes.
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Old 09-02-2017, 01:54 PM
 
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I've been lurking on this board for a while and have received quite a bit of good information. I haven't seen the need to comment until now, so I just registered.

I'm also a part-time substitute for a number of reasons. My first ulterior motive was to become an insider at my kids' schools, just in case there's ever a need to advocate for them, see problems, etc. The less ulterior motive was to help out, since they do have a shortage of subs, and they seem to be genuinely happy to see me. The paycheck is also nice. Sometimes, I feel like I've earned every penny of it. But occasionally, I'm surprised that they pay me so much for such an easy job.

I'm about the same age as you, but without a broken arm. The kids will keep you on your toes, and if you like improvising, you'll enjoy it. You'll probably figure out within a couple of weeks whether you love the job or whether you hate it. I happen to love it.

When I'm not teaching, I'm a lawyer. My schedule is usually very flexible, and there are often days when I'm not doing anything else, so the added income is nice. When I'm busy doing other things, I just don't take jobs.

I suspect my political views are probably similar to yours, and very different from most of the teachers and administrators I work with. But you needn't worry, since it's really not a problem. I'm not there to talk about politics. I'm there to keep the kids out of trouble and keep the building standing in the teacher's absence. Everyone's happy if I do those things, and as an added bonus, I'm usually able to teach them something in the process.

I don't think I've ever had a case where the gender of a student was an issue, and I've certainly never had access to anyone's birth certificate to see what it said. I'm given a list with all of the students' names. I believe that the list says whether they are male or female, but I don't think I've ever had occasion to use that information. Quite frequently, students ask to go to the bathroom, but I never inquire about which one they're going to. If they end up in the wrong one, that's the hall monitor's jurisdiction, not mine. I just give them a pass that says "restroom" and let them figure it out.

When addressing a student, I use the pronoun "you." Fortunately, in English, we don't have to worry about whether "you" happens to be a male or a female. It's actually pretty rare to be talking about one student while addressing another student, so the use of the words "he" and "she" aren't actually very common. If I had to refer to a student whose situation was more complicated, I guess I would be careful to do it in a manner that didn't offend them. (Note how I just cleverly avoided a gender reference in the last sentence.) So don't worry about that particular problem. It's probably not going to be a problem.

What will arise occasionally, but not very often, are situations where you are asked to teach something with which you do not agree. In some cases, these might be actual errors in the curriculum. In those cases, you need to be diplomatic about it. Being diplomatic isn't always my greatest strength, but I do my best. For example, one day, I was teaching math, and painted on one of the walls of the classroom were various formulas. I think they were just there as decoration. One of them was the quadratic formula, and it actually came up in the class discussion. It wasn't the lesson that day, but I pointed it out to the students to let them know that it will be another way that they will learn in the future to do the problem we were working on.

But something didn't look quite right about it. And, lo and behold, it contained a mistake! So I corrected it the next day with a post-it note and let the kids know. I also left a note for the teacher, being as diplomatic as I could. When I walked by a few days later, I noticed that my post-it was gone and the error remained. So maybe I need a little more work on my diplomacy skills.

More often though, there will be occasions where it's appropriate to state my own personal opinion on a subject, even though my personal opinion is in the minority. I generally don't hesitate to do so, although I do make a point to make clear that it's my own personal opinion, and not necessarily the position of my employer. I haven't gotten fired yet for doing that, so I don't think you should worry about it.

You do walk a fine line in some ways. On the one hand, you are a public employee, and as such, you have no right to impose your personal opinions on others, especially since it's a captive audience of students who are required to be there. On the other hand, you are also an individual, you also have the right to freely speak your own opinions, as long as you are acting consistently with your job description. But what you are not allowed to do, as a public employee, is to use your position in such a way that the government (your employer) is preferring one political opinion over another. But in general, you are OK as long as you make clear that your speech and your opinion is not that of the government.

Good luck with the subbing. I suspect you'll love doing it, and you'll know for sure after a couple of weeks.
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Personal Opinion
Old 09-03-2017, 07:27 AM
 
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RCMN,

Well said! Welcome to the forum!

On a different note about correcting the quadratic equation... I've found errors in biographical and mathematical books that I've used to help students discover the truth through research. (I also write to the authors and publishers for re-printing purposes. The students find this fun... the authors appreciate it... the publishers NOT so much!)
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Old 09-04-2017, 12:45 AM
 
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KatrynG,
Thanks for the caution. As a member of the human race, it is probably a good idea for me to be reminded not to be sucked into the drama.
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Old 09-04-2017, 01:27 AM
 
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rcmn,
Welcome to the forum. And thank you for your thoughtful response. Your contribution to the conversation along with a couple of others have helped me to see that there are practical workarounds to the situation I mentioned.

I feel very strongly about the separation of Church and State. I'm persuaded that the Church should not dictate how the State runs the government and that the Church should not interfere in matters of the State unless it is to object to State interference in Church matters.

This is why I will not impose my values on others just as I will not permit anyone to impose their values on me. The whole Golden Rule thing.

One last point. I went to public school for all but one year of my K-12 education. I also went to church for most if not all of that time. There are people who say that prayer should be brought back to school. As far as I'm concerned, it's never been absent from school because, as a student, whenever I wanted to pray before a class or before a test, nobody ever told me I could not do that. I didn't do it out loud because it was a personal prayer, and so I would simply bow my head and pray. Never had a problem with that. So let the church teach me how to pray and to have courage to do so wherever I need to and whenever I need to, and let the school stay out of that--neither telling me that I should pray nor telling me that I should not.

If I were to pray silently before I started a class, and if somebody asked me what I was doing and I answered that I was praying, and if I then told them that one of the many reasons the United States of America is such a great country is that our Constitution neither imposes nor forbids religion, I suspect that interaction would be very brief. And I would ensure it's brevity.

Last edited by thecoast; 09-04-2017 at 01:28 AM.. Reason: Misspelling
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Old 09-04-2017, 04:28 PM
 
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Slightly off topic... Our district- at every level K-12- has a "moment of silence" right after the pledge of allegiance. Students and staff can pray, wait, whatever they please (that is silent) during that 15-30 second time period. Of course, no one is forced to pray, and it is not presented as a prayer time- although I have seen many staff members clearly modeling prayer to the students. If nothing else, it is a great opportunity to take a deep breath, make sure there's a smile on my face, and start the day off thankful and cheerful.
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besides prayer, the other way
Old 09-08-2017, 05:41 AM
 
Clip to ScrapBook #26

Don't be alarmed that due to faith there will be students down the road who will not do the pledge of allegiance. These students may be of Christian faith while others may be future US Citizens. Pick your battles carefully and listen. Remember, if it's not disturbing the class, you may ignore. I had a student that prays regularly. He would close his eyes and I know he's in prayer and I just let it be. He's a good student and got the work done. Come to think of it, if he had ask if he may pray out of the classroom, would I allow it? I'm just glad he didn't have to put me in that position which is what I loved about this young man. He should be finishing college by now actually. Anyways, there's a lot to consider but I always go back to the focus. Should I allow to be excused only when they got something done? When do I decide on a case by case?

If someone brings it up, it's okay to say that you will discuss your course of action near the end of class (or in privacy) but you want them focus on the work at hand. There will be students that will test you by trying to distract you. Be prepared for that which is really the whole point of this thread.

While some find this job easy, I think it is one of the most difficult and yet ever so enjoyable. Only experience will tell. I enjoy the days when I connect with people. I wish that there's an easy way out of this job. I'd like to suggest that you could find out more through your school district's guidelines for guest teachers. If you don't have time for that, the success of your day (or moment) may depend on how well the regular teacher had adequately prepared the class during the absence. Review the instructions left and depending on how receptive you are and your general style to a teacher's detailed (or lack thereof) instructions, you should be successful. Remember to touch base with a few neighbouring adults and the staff in the office.

You may find that your initial concern about politics may not be worth getting bent out of shape. I would be more concerned with things like "hmm... where did that kid go who just went to the bathroom?". Or who was that kid I was supposed to let out because of a meeting with that adult? Oh no, did I forget to give them their snacks? And then my greatest source of fear especially with the young-un's did that kid get on the right bus? Who was supposed to get picked up again? And of course this proverbial question "Did the kids learn?". Do not get overwhelmed. Just be prepared. A mentor once told me if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

And then as you read through this forum and threads and dig deep, you will find a lot of helpful tips and tricks of the trade. This is not the only source mind you so make sure to always touch base with the staff you're at first. This is a collective body of knowledge from people who are experienced and novice. You will find it natural to (dis)agree so take everything that you read with a grain of salt. Have a happy and safe guest teaching.

Last edited by Mikhail; 09-08-2017 at 07:20 AM..
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thecoast thecoast is offline
 
Joined: Feb 2017
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thecoast
 
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 30
Junior Member
I sure hope...
Old 09-08-2017, 05:32 PM
 
Clip to ScrapBook #27

...that the situation I was initially concerned about that you labeled as political doesn't arise. (It is not, in fact, a political concern, but I digress). The other things that you brought up that have to do with keeping children safe and remembering things to be done or things that ought not to be done, those are the other things that I hope to find practical perspective on. Thanks for the kind tone of your post.
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