I’m Teaching French Again!

I can’t believe it, but here I am a full-time French teacher again. This all came about pretty quickly, and I’ve been thrown into a large workload, so I am just starting to catch up after almost a month in, but here I am to add to this site again.

Teaching today versus five-ten years ago is very different. But my current assignment is again in a private school, which can certainly have its perks, of which pay rate is not one, haha. But, the students are pretty well-behaved.

Bonne année – here’s to see how it goes, my nouveau journey as a French teacher, encore!

Pennsylvania Act 48 PDE SAS – how to use this system and make the most of it!

Pennsylvania Act 48 PDE SAS – how to use this system and make the most of it! (coming soon!!)

I had a little trouble at first figuring out how to sign up for the free professional development classes, but once I did figure it out, I was so glad! It was very useful in helping me accrue over 100 hours of Act 48 Professional Development!

From their site: http://www.pdesas.org/ 

The Pennsylvania Department of Education provides FREE online courses for PA certified educators to earn Act 48 hours through PDE’s Standards Aligned Systems web portal.

To access these FREE online courses, please go to:  http://pdesas.org and follow instructions listed below:

  •           At top right of page, click on LOGIN
  •           On the next page, click on JOIN NOW
  •           Follow the instructions
  •           Once you have logged on, at top of page, click on TEACHER TOOLS (a toolbox icon)
  •           Next page, click on the PD CENTER (a file drawer icon) near bottom of page
  •           Click on REGISTRATION to see the information regarding the new FREE courses

If not presently teaching in a classroom, choose only those courses beginning with SASPD.

I completed over 100 hours of work using these courses, and once I got the hang of it, though dry, they did provide me with some useful knowledge. I tried to share this with other colleagues who were also subs, because it can be so hard for subs in PA to get their act 48 hours (especially if you don’t have the money to take courses). 

Most of the assignments I did were fairly easy if you read the materials. I was getting great grades, often 10/10 or 15/15, so tried to do less work as I had so many hours to make up. I still would get close to or almost always full credit, and could have stood to spend less time on it. Luckily I had the time at that point in my life without being forced to be the sole income provider.

More to come…

My New Teaching Gig: Building Substitute

So I subbed a bit over the last two years. I was so thrilled when I had relocated and got called in for an interview at a prestigious local school district (more on my job search, desired teaching gig decisions, and interviews to come!).

Long story short, I ended up being their first pick for the building substitute for a middle school! I am so excited, and it starts shortly, and I’m also admittedly scared about having to get up a couple hours earlier than I have been- most days of the week!

I knew that if I tried to pursue subbing out here on my own, though I applied to many districts, I didn’t know if I’d likely get enough work to make a good and stable income.

The pay isn’t terrific if you compare it to a full-time teacher’s salary (and that’s kind of sad right there!), but I do think that for me, not having to do planning and grading will be worth the cut in pay.

Since I have a good amount of subbing under my belt, I know to go in with a “firm but fair attitude” and make it work for the day.

Here are some thoughts (before starting) on the job of building sub (which I didn’t read up on before going into the interview- whoops!):

Pros: 

~Knowing where you are going to sub each day
~Not having to do to different schools, have different commute times, and different pay rates
~Establishing a presence and getting to know students and staff to help you feel more connected
~Being guaranteed a good number of days (150 in my case!)
~Could definitely lead to a full-time position at the school or district down the road

Cons: 

~Takes away some of the freedom and flexibility people might associate with choosing subbing.
~May prevent you from getting a different long-term or even full-time teaching position that opens up (I got an email from a charter school right after accepting the position, but I had one good and one bad experience at different charter schools, and I also didn’t want an extra 30 minutes added to my commute!)

 

That’s all I got for right now, but I will be a) trying to update this blog more (to include some thoughts from subbing and seeing a lot of different schools and behavior management systems!) and b) I will most certainly be updating you on my path of learning how to be a stellar building substitute!

 

See my update here!

Subbing Experience

Having had some difficulties with behavior management in my previous full-time teaching gigs, I knew the most important thing I could do going into subbing was to have a behavior management plan in place.

Get to know the building’s behavior management guidelines, and then the personal classroom management plan that the individual teacher that you sub for prefers to keep.

The first time I was called in (relatively last-minute) to sub for the very next day, so I didn’t have a lot of time to do prep work, but it is important to read up on the school and its mission statement and student population (general information you can usually find on their website).

When I was subbing, and also looking for employment at schools, I did look at reviews of schools, from a site like “Great Schools“, but I also took them with a grain of salt, like I would restaurant reviews for Yelp- sometimes they’re fake, sometimes blown out of proportion over something that’s not really an issue, having more to do with a person’s own problems the school is not responsible for, etc…but it was good to read those to get an idea of what people were rating the school.

To shorten the rest of the post, I’ll list a few tips I found useful in developing a rapport at schools you were going into, and to become an in-demand sub (nothing better than hearing “Oh ya, you’re a good sub, I’m going to request you!”:

  1. Be personable. You never know how often you’ll be back, and if you start coming back more and more often, it could indeed lead to a full-time gig down the road. Subbing is a great foot in the door to make connections. People will want you coming back if you make an effort to connect with those within the school, from the front desk, to administrators, to teachers you sub for and teachers in other classes, and of course! the students.
  2. Have a backup plan. Nowadays with such high academic demands it is unlikely you’ll just be sitting back and showing a movie as a sub (though it surely does still happen). But more often than not, I was following a lesson plan. Even with that, activities are likely to run short (as kids may be shy or you may not be going off on a tangent, for example), and you may need to improvise. Have a plan, whether it’s a brain break activity, or a getting to know you activity. Having stuff to do is important to keep students engaged and helps prevent misbehavior.
  3. Go the extra mile. Sometimes my backup plan was including a French song or dance, which I think was a real plus. The school secretary told me parents were raving about the sub who taught their kindergartener to count to ten in French! Going the extra mile subbing could mean adding your own flair to your coverage in the classroom, but it also extends beyond your assigned duties. If you have a free period or two, head to the office and see what you can do to help, or walk around the school and check out what’s going on.
  4. Leave a detailed report of the day. Leave excellent notes and better yet, make notes as you go through the day, as you may be overwhelmed at the end and forget some of it. One thing you can leave out? Don’t leave a tattle-tale list of misbehaviors. If there was something serious that involved disciplinary action or the office in some way, then do note that, but teachers know who is likely to misbehave and almost expect it. That’s why you’ll often see a list of helpers and students to look out for.
  5. Use the Sub Binder. Make sure you review the sub binder, if there is one, as it will contain valuable info to help you through the day. Normally if there’s going to be something like a planned fire drill, they will let you know. But make sure you read it and refer to it, or you’ll be like me on the day of the earthquake alarm I remembered most of the procedures but forgot to grab the bright orange hat and felt like a fool!
  6. Stay calm. Keep a cool composure as best you can (and sometimes- perhaps often at first- fake it ’til you make it!). Remember to take deep breaths. Subbing can be challenging, and in some parts of the day more than others (nerves at first, or right before lunch always seem to be the longest minutes!), but you will make it through, and with barring no major incidents, you will more than likely be asked back. You owe it to yourself to try and stay calm and remember to just do your best, but it is tough to come in and elicit the respect their everyday-teacher would get.

Just as you would if you were full-time teaching, make sure to care for yourself and your health and personal wellbeing. Get enough sleep, eat well (I do try and pack a lunch, but wouldn’t always be able to), and relax- you are fulfilling an important role and probably will be too hard on yourself. Enjoy your planning/grading-free evenings and get ready to answer another early-morning call, or if you get in good, you’ll get requested in advance which is nice. Yay for subbing! I had a better time subbing than I did teaching in some ways 🙂

Good Idea For Getting Parents On Your Side

If a student is misbehaving in class, you may already know that you’ll have to try a variety of disciplinary techniques to resolve the issue. Sometimes a student struggles with class preparedness or using work time effectively.

Here is a helpful example of a sheet you can send home to the parent or guardian to enlist their help with getting the student back on track.

Dear Parent/Guardian,

I need your help. Your child would be better prepared to learn if they:

____ remembered to bring the materials they need to class

____ completed homework ____ class work assignments

____ were less chatty/social ____ listened to class lessons/discussions more attentively; ____ actively participated

____ came to class on time

____ reviewed/studied for tests & quizzes

____ stayed after school to review ______________________________

Mr./Ms./Mrs. (your name here) is available on:  _________________________

Please speak with your child about taking responsibility for his/her own learning. I appreciate your assistance and cooperation. Together, we can help your child succeed.

Parent signature: ______________________________   Date: _______________

********

It’s as simple as starting with that. This is important for a number of reasons, one of which being that it is a proactive way to start dealing with misbehavior. Another obvious reason is it involves the parents and can help make them aware of what is going on with their child’s performance in your class. It is helpful to communicate in this way, and whether you choose to email it or hand a paper copy to the student/parent, you have a track record of your efforts toward positive and effective classroom behavior management!

French Enrichment Program

I was asked to create a 4-month French Enrichment Program, taught to students from Kindergarten to Middle School.

Creation of such a program proved difficult, having to choose what to cover after the obvious basics, while including a good amount of relevant culture and anything related to the area (place-based learning).

The program I came up with went over very well with students and parents alike. I intend to post it this fall (2015). It could be adapted to offer as a short language summer camp.

I, as a recovering perfectionist (which is very difficult for a teacher to be!), was rather pleased with the outcome. Students had fun, and learned some French language and culture! What more could you want?!

It was actually one of the most enjoyable teaching experiences I have had to date, and I was teaching French again! Not having the homework grading and (major, fast-paced) lesson planning was such a blessing for me. I intend to share more on that later, as I believe my experience and time in the teaching world would be relatable for many young, aspiring educators!

Teaching Hiatus

Due to some intense life changes, i.e. death in the family and more, to share just a bit, coinciding with the time around the end of my last substitute teaching employment, I have found other work for now, and will contemplate teaching perhaps in the future. For now, though, I do intend to get back to work on this blog at least, to develop a more in-depth, useful resource for teachers of French, F.L., and young and/or new teachers in general!

A teacher must first take care of him or herself before being able to care for and efficiently educate so many!