Substitute teaching


A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

Welcome to A to Z!

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Today’s Post is brought to you by the letter S

post-card-the-letter-s-17767264-304-480I’m a Substitute Teacher for the Manchester school system here in North Manchester, Indiana. Because I’m also a full-time student and minister, I only get to sub once in awhile but I enjoy it immensely.

My mean teacher face. Don't mess with this sub!

My mean teacher face. Don’t mess with this sub!

In fact, I think I might like substitute teaching better than full-time teaching. Here’s why:

1. Subs don’t have to take work home with them.

2. Subs don’t have to attend meetings after school.

3. Subs aren’t required to attend after-school events.

4. There is great variety in subbing. Sometimes I’m in an elementary classroom and other times I’m in a high school English class. But my favorite sub experiences are with the students in the Special Education classrooms. (Which is what I’m getting my degree in.)

5. Subs don’t have to record grades, hold conferences, or meet with parents.

Parent_Teacher_ConferencesWhat don’t I like about subbing?

1 .Recess duty.

2. Recess duty.

3. Recess duty.

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I do love questions from five-year-olds. They’re often irrelevant to what I’m teaching and most of the time hilarious.

I’ve never liked recess duty. Especially when it’s 9F out and there’s ice everywhere. It’s just not my cup of tea.

How about you? Have you ever filled in for someone on a job? What was it? What did you like about it? Dislike about it?

books-and-little-bird-kestutis-kasparaviciusTweet this: I hate recess duty but I love subbing!

 


Reaching for the moon

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Dear Young, Strong Girls, things weren’t always as they are today.

Used to be, strong women such as Jerrie Cobb, Bernice Steadman, Janey Hart, Jerri Truhill, Rhea Woltman, Sarah Ratley, Jan and Marion Dietrich, Myrtle Cagle, Irene Leverton, Gene Nora Jessen, Jean Hixson, and Wally Funk, who passed the same tests as other astronauts competing for a spot on a trip to the moon, would be denied the chance simply because they were female.

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Because strong women such as these never gave up on pursuing the dreams God placed in their heart–the dreams they were born to do–we now have many more choices in the United States and allowed to compete for the same jobs as men. Gender has no role.

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I know some people think there’s a war against us in the United States, but trust me, it’s nothing like it used to be and the war is with a very different enemy. Satan hates women and he’ll do everything he can to suppress them. He delights in seeing your dreams squashed because you are powerful and influential. He’s scared of you.

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I’m always encouraged when I see strong women go after a dream. In some way it strengthens me and gives me courage to keep working toward the dreams in my own heart.

Surround yourself with other strong girls and women. Take courage from their persistence and tenacity. Learn about all the strong women you can. I believe it will encourage you to go forth and conquer!

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To learn more about the remarkable women who reached for the moon during the Mercury space program check out these links:

Women in Space.

She Should Have Gone to the Moon

Women of the Mercury Era

And enjoy the following videos (embedding for the first one has been disabled, but it’s very good, so please check it out!):

Click here:    Mercury 13 – The Secret Astronauts (Part-1)

Part 2:


The Mercury 13:

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Psalm 8

 O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

What dream is in your heart? How does the enemy try to stop it? What will you do to win? Share with others in the comments below. We need to encourage one another!

Sometimes Mama Bear needs to back off

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I’m subbing at the high school this week in a special education classroom. That means that my twin sons who take life skills classes are in my department. This is great fun for them. But today my Mama Grizzly showed a bit when a staff member (not a teacher, a support staff) rudely snapped at one of them, first thing in the morning. No hello. Nothing. Just a bark.

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The reason she snapped at my son was valid. It was how she handled it that wasn’t. He’d left his backpack in front of a locked classroom door, and while waiting for someone to unlock it, he slipped into my room to visit with me.

When the staff member arrived, she flew into my classroom and barked, “Whose stuff is that in the hall in front of Mrs. —‘s door?”

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Isaiah, who is almost always cheerful and sweet, and wouldn’t do anything wrong on purpose to inconvenience someone, jumped up from his chair and headed toward the hall door, “Oh, that’s mine.”

To which she responded with a great scowl and angry voice, “Well then move it, it’s in the way.” (Or some such phrase of which I don’t remember the exact words.) All I know, is that I never talk to students that way, and especially not special needs students.

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It’s all in how you say it. And I realize that teachers and staff have bad mornings. But bad mornings should be left at the schoolhouse door. Being a grouch doesn’t model appropriate behavior to students who need it more than anyone. I dare say that teens with autism need it more than elementary-aged children (although they all do desperately need it).

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I did complain to their teacher about her, but as I was doing so, I felt petty. It’s impossible for me to protect them from all the rude people on earth. Especially now that they are adults. (They are 19 but still in school until they are 21.) Still, as an educator myself, I feel that all students should be treated with respect. Tone of voice speaks volumes.

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As I shared in my post on my philosophy of education, school may be one of the only places some kids have that’s a safe place to fall. If they are to feel valued, school personnel must treat them with respect. It doesn’t matter what a child’s label is, they are still deserving of politeness.

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Maybe the snarky  staff member works with hard behavior cases. I don’t know. But I do know that children will act the way you expect them to most of the time. I know this because I’ve worked with some very, very difficult students. No one should ever be valued less because of their limitations or emotional struggles.

i-believe-in-youThis Mama Grizzly is learning which battles to fight. It’s not easy. There will be many more instances, I’m sure, when I won’t know whether to bite my tongue or take up the torch on behalf of my sons. It’s because of their vulnerability and inability to know if an offense is truly something they should be reprimanded for, or an honest, un-meant mistake. A student with autism isn’t always going to process that a book bag in front of the door might be in someone’s way.

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This frustration at the world for not understanding autism is part of what parenting these kids is so difficult. We want people to understand them, and frankly, most people aren’t even going to care. It’s something I’m learning to accept. Even 19 years later.

autismbI think as long as I live, the Mama Grizzly side of me, will always wrestle with the teacher in me, to teach the world how to get it about autism, kindness, and respect. Thankfully, the kind side of me won today, and I didn’t go toe to toe with the staff member. A part of me wishes I hadn’t complained to the teacher.

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Sometimes I feel I should wear a sign that says, “If you think I’m opinionated, you should know how much I want to say and don’t!” There’s so much inside of me that feels like it’s going to blow at times when people are rude to my children or other people with disabilities.

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Only with God’s help am I able to model appropriate behavior when I’m feeling protective. Since my gift is words, it’s also my weakness, and I know I need to temper my opinions with grace.

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Have you ever felt the need to stand up for your children? How did you handle it? What do you think I should have done? Should I have said something or not?

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My philosophy of education

I’m at that point in my degree program where I have to submit a philosophy of education to my portfolio. I thought I’d share it with you here and I’m eager to hear your thoughts!

Karla Akins
Western Governors University
Bachelor of Arts Special Education K-12 and Elementary K-6 Licensure Track

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I come from a long line of educators. My father was a high school teacher and my ancestors built one of the first school houses in Pennsylvania, where it still stands in Halifax. My formal experience in teaching began when I was a twelve-year-old teacher’s aide in a preschool classroom. “Busy Bees” had a loving, nurturing teacher named Mrs. Reed. By watching her I learned kindness, and what it felt like to see a child go from “not knowing” to “knowing.”

busy_bee-399x411I also formed my philosophy from the good and bad teachers I had as a child. My bad teachers taught me the importance of compassion. My good teachers taught me to look for the reasons behind a child’s behavior. I was fidgety in school, and until my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Strecker, discovered that boredom was the reason for my disruptiveness, I was often in trouble. Instead of punishing or embarrassing me, she kept me meaningfully engaged.

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Because I’m the parent of three children on the autism spectrum who struggled with academics, I’m a firm believer in searching for an open window into a child’s understanding. I enjoy the challenge of discovering the key that unlocks concepts for students. I’m also drawn to children with difficult behavior. I believe that behavior is communication, and I relish in decoding what challenging students are trying to say.

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I believe that lessons in the classroom should be meaningful and engaging for all students. If they aren’t, it’s a recipe for undesirable conduct. I have a tongue-in-cheek motto: “You can’t teach a moving target.” Most young people have a fascination with something that will keep them engaged. Using that fascination, I believe, is the key to keeping their attention and motivating them to participate with success.

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Regardless of ability, all students have gifts inside them that I, as a teacher, am responsible for unwrapping. A good teacher will focus on abilities and gifts of a student to enhance and strengthen weak areas. This goes hand in hand with using a child’s fascinations and obsessions to motivate them to learn. When children experience success, they gain the courage and esteem to try new things and practice skills they are weak in.

thegiftedMy passion as a teacher is to be an enthusiastic encourager. By focusing on strengths, cheering students on through positive reinforcement, I’m able to build trusting relationships with my students, who then develop the confidence to navigate their academic careers. In this way students reach their full potential.

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While firmness is important, I also realize that a teacher’s patient attention and presence in a student’s life may be the only soft place in the world for that child to fall. Teachers now, more than ever, need to realize they are a hero in the life of their students, and may be the only hope some kids have for feeling as if they matter.

For a child who lives with hazards in their neighborhood, or perhaps, poverty, teaching a child what they can do to change their world is a powerful way for the student to accept responsibility and appreciate the power they possess as an individual. Every community has its own challenges and culture. Therefore, I believe, teaching methods should change based upon the needs of the child, their families and their culture.

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I’m a teacher who believes in teaching to the individual needs of the child. I respect my students as fellow learners and hope to motivate them to find answers for themselves. By teaching in a way that piques a child’s interest to the point they beg for answers, I have accomplished the main goal of my philosophy, which is, to guide students toward success not only in school, but in life.

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Let’s hear it for special education teachers!

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Breakfast!

I’m subbing for a special education teacher this week. She’s a first year teacher and do you know what my first clue was?

The only break she has all day is 30 minutes for lunch.

So the next time someone tells me that teachers only work 6 hours a day and that they are overpaid, I want you to walk in this woman’s shoes. She is on the run from the time that first bell rings. If she’s not teaching she’s running from one class to another all over this building.

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Special education teachers are often overworked. Their hearts are big and they put the needs of kids first. Today several children have arrived hungry. One of my students is eating crackers and milk in my room right now. It’s hard to learn on an empty stomach.

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A few of the children aren’t bathed. Their hair isn’t combed. It’s heartbreaking. There has been no nurturing for these sweet kids. They live hard lives.

I love filling in for this teacher for three days but I’m worried that she’s not getting enough time to recharge. Special Ed teachers want to fix things. But we can only do so much. That frustration alone is weighty.

Battery Recharger 1Do you think public school teachers have it too easy? Have you thanked your child’s teacher today?

If you’re a homeschool mom reading this, give yourself some encouragement and take some time to be refreshed. When I was homeschooling my kids, I took one hour each day to myself. I relished that hour. I trained my children to sit on their beds and read if they didn’t want to nap. They were not to disturb me unless it was blood or fire. I’d love to have that hour today!

Even Jesus took time to himself. And last time I checked, none of us are perfect like He is. If He needed it, we do, too.

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What do you want to read about?

I truly want to create a blog that is fun, entertaining and useful. We are all short on time, aren’t we? The last thing we need to do is waste our time reading blogs that we don’t connect with. I deeply desire to connect with you, Dear Reader.

Would you be so kind as to fill out this survey? I’d appreciate it so much! Thanks for your help in making this little ministry on the web the best it can be.

Love,

Karla

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

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Strong Girl: Malala Yousafzai

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Imagine riding the bus home from school and being ambushed by the taliban because you blog about girls getting an education.

This is what happened to Malala Yousafzai on a Tuesday, October 9, 2012.

The young militants opened fire on the bus, shot Malala in the head and neck, wounded two others, and left them for dead.

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They thought they’d silenced Malala forever but they were wrong. She survived and has continued to spread her message that a girls’ education benefits everyone. It reduces mortality rates, increases lifetime wage earnings, and strengthens democracy.

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Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. She is the youngest person to have ever been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Malala’s father sounds a lot like my dad. My dad never limited me because I was a girl. He always told me I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to. Malala’s dad owned a school and encouraged his daughter to write and go to school even though he lived in a society that prized sons more than daughters.

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In July 2013, on her 16th birthday, Malala addressed the United Nations General Assembly:

“We must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty, injustice and ignorance.  We must not forget that millions of children are out of schools.  We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright peaceful future.  So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens.  They are our most powerful weapons.”

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Malala reminds us that some girls face death for going to school. Terrorist groups in Afghanistan and other oppressed areas of the world continue to threaten and attack female students and teachers. Things were improving in some places but with limited presence of the United States in these oppressed areas, girls lives are in danger if they read books and go to school.

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Clearly, Malala is a strong girl with big dreams. The next time you’re tempted to skip school, think of the price other girls in the world pay for the right to learn. Strong girls are readers. Strong girls are educated. Strong girls, like Malala, have the courage to stand up and not sit down for what is right.

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How much better [is it] to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! Proverbs 16:16

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Strong girls read

Stronggirlslogo2God never intended for women to be dumb.

That’s a mankind idea, not a God idea.  Societies and cultures of the past and present have treated women as chattel–property to be owned and kept ignorant.

But you don’t see that in the Bible. Jesus exalted the woman. He treated her as an equal. (There’s an excellent article about this here: Jesus Friend of Women.)

Why would God give women a brain if they weren’t to use it?

One of my favorite stories is the one in the movie, Yentl. It’s about a young Jewish girl who disguises herself to be a man just so she will be allowed to read books that only men are allowed to read.

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I put myself in her shoes and I think that if I’d been born in such a time, I may have gone to the same lengths to learn.

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Maybe you’re a girl and your thing isn’t books. Learn anyway by some other means. God has given you a talent for a reason and it’s not to sit idly by and wait for someone else to take care of you. Learn to take care of yourself. Waiting for a man to take care of you is the worst way to live your life and make your plans. And trust me. In this day and age? It’s probably not going to happen.

MjAxMy01YmVmODYyMzI3ZTEyNzlkYou are responsible to God for your own brain, talents, and gifts. It won’t be your spouse or boyfriend who stands before God and gives an account for how you lived your life–it will be you.

042811_PrinceCharming1If you do love books (like me), don’t stop reading. Read all you can. Especially God’s Word. Because there’s a lot out there to read that will lie to you. Don’t fall for it. The only way you’ll be able to know if it’s a lie or not is to balance it with God’s Word. Compare it to what God has to say and you’ll know the Truth. You’ll never be confused.

Be wise, Strong Girl. Be wise.

 Work hard so God can say to you, “Well done.” Be a good workman, one who does not need to be ashamed when God examines your work. Know what his Word says and means.” 2 Timothy 2:15, TLB

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