Substitute Teacher Training

I arrived at my county’s educational service center about 7:40 a.m. one recent Thursday and patiently waited for the woman at the front desk to put down her phone. When she recognized my presence, the woman pulled the phone from her ear and pressed it her neck. She whispered, “Substitute teacher training?”

I nodded affirmatively and she pointed toward the direction in which I had just come. She whispered, “Go back out and take the door on your left.” After walking down a staircase and through several hallways, all helpfully labeled with “substitute teacher training” and directional arrows, I found a large room with several tables and chairs. At the head of the room was a man, who introduced himself as Harry, and a woman, who he introduced as Susan. Both smiled at me. I was early – about 40 minutes early.

I recognized Harry’s name from several stories I had written about his wife, who organized a trip for area gifted high schoolers to Washington D.C. for last year’s presidential inauguration. Susan seemed familiar, too, but I couldn’t place her.

The training last about eight hours and consisted of watching short video segments and a very long Power Point presentation. My classmates and I (about 22 of us) learned the the basics of how to handle a classroom full of kids and the mechanics of substitute teaching.

About five of the eight hours of training consisted of learning about interpersonal skills and de-escalating situations. I’m a natural escalator. I’ve also studied argumentation for years. And, as a reporter, I was taught to challenge sources when they lied. So, this idea of avoiding conflict was very foreign for me. It was a very positive thing for me to learn; however, and I feel this is personally the most worthwhile thing I absorbed at substitute teacher training.

I feel as though the training was highly successful, although I know there is so much that I don’t know about teaching. Despite the training, I’m still not really prepared to deal with a disruptive class. I’m not sure any amount of training can prepare a person for that. Rather, I think it is something a person must experience. From that experience I believe a teacher develops strategies for future crises.

At the end of training, we all filled out applications for our licenses. I’m seeking a five-year long-term substitute teaching license in language arts for grades seven though 12. I’m currently waiting for my license to arrive in the mail. When it does, I’ll begin the process of approaching area school districts. I’m excited for when that time comes.


September 20, 2009 at 10:43 pm Leave a comment

Another Step Forward

I’ve previously written how I found an online program that will allow me to take the classes I need to become a teacher. Well, I’ve started the program, and am taking educational psychology and integrating technology across the curriculum.

Educational psychology is great so far. My professor’s personal qualifications are impressive and she’s been very clear in what she expects from us. She has a good sense of humor and seems very fair.

My integrating technology professor, however, isn’t a professor at all. Rather, she’s a 7th grade science teacher who is working on her masters who was asked to teach the class. On the first day, her academic mentor (adviser) was forced to teach the class because my technology professor couldn’t figure out how to log-on. The second day of class, my technology “professor” was more than an hour late and an hour-and-a-half long class.

She showed up just in time to answer a few questions about the assignment that was due and next week’s assignment. Both have been relatively easy, but also frustrating because it’s unclear exactly what she expects.

The truth is I’m really happy to be taking the class despite the frustrations. I know that I’m working toward something, while as a reporter I was going nowhere.

September 5, 2009 at 3:06 pm Leave a comment

My New Friend

Last Thursday I went to a county sheriff’s auction and came home with a new car. When I got there, and saw the crowd at the event, this was just about the last thing I expected to happen.

My dad and I got there about an hour early and looked each vehicle over. There were six cars and one truck. Four of the cars were Chevy Impalas, but three of them were squad cars that still had the police stickers on their sides. The car I eventually won was a detective car and was therefore unmarked.

The first car up for bid was a green Toyota Avalon that had been seized during a drug investigation. It was in pretty rough shape, especially the back door panels. I offered a bid of 600 on this car, but someone else ultimately wanted it more.

Next up was the truck, which although nice, was not what I was looking for. It went for a great price, I think $1,000.

The third vehicle up was one in which I wasn’t interested. I didn’t pay a lot of attention.

The fourth vehicle was one of the squad cars and I bid up to about $900 on the car. I was outbidded but don’t remember what the car sold for.

The fifth vehicle was the car I won. Another person and I went back-and-forth; he bid me up to $975 before dropping out. I won the car for $1,000 although am not entirely sure why. The very next car, which was in far worse shape, went for about $1,300.

Since buying the car, my dad and I have made a few improvements, including painting over some stone chips. I’m pretty happy with the vehicle, although I’m expecting to have to do some repair work to it, which I’ll probably post about when it become necessary.

You can see some pictures of my car all shined up below:

August 14, 2009 at 5:13 pm Leave a comment

Old Reliable

During the past week I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time repairing things on my car (with help from my dad). Thus far I’ve replaced three brake lines, the steering rack, the thermostat and the master cylinder.

Now, I have never been the type of guy who enjoys working on automobiles. In fact, I find the whole thing pretty dreadful. But, keeping this car on the road is my only viable option right now.

I’ve considered purchasing a new-to-me vehicle, probably either a Ford Explorer or Chevy Blazer. While I could afford to buy such a vehicle, I’m not eager about what it would do to my savings. That’s besides the additional insurance costs and other miscellaneous costs.

So, I continue working on “old Reliable,” with the hope that soon she will be in pretty decent shape.

Update: Since posting, I’ve replaced both calipers. My brakes aren’t as good as I would like them to be, but they’re definitely getting better.

July 30, 2009 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

The Money’s In

One of the biggest hurdles in my quest to become a teacher was met and jumped today when I received my financial aid award letter in the mail. Thankfully, I’ll be able to borrow everything I need.

The college made it clear that if I hadn’t paid or made arrangements by Aug. 1 that I would be removed from classes. I was afraid I’d have to drive up to the campus and give the school cash — like I had to do with my summer class.

Later, after my summer class was nearly over, I found out anyone receiving federal financial aid must be at least a part-time student. Basically, it meant I would not be receiving a refund of my $1,159.00 cash from which I wasn’t prepared to part.  Surprise!

Not wanting another surprise, the award letter was wonderful news. It also means I’ll have more free money to pursue the purchase of a better automobile, which is my next major task.

July 22, 2009 at 1:44 am Leave a comment

Good Times are Here Again

In the time since I’ve last posted a lot of good things have happened to me. During the last two months I’ve made significant progress toward becoming an English teacher, something that prior to May,  I couldn’t have believed was actually possible.

Thoughout June and July I took a literature class on the Victorian and Romantic Periods, mostly studying poetry.  It wasn’t the most interesting reading and some of it was pretty hard to wade through. But, I’m better for having taken the course.  It was one of the two literature classes I need to become a licensed teacher. Overall, I need four classes, the other two being educational psychology and teaching methods.

Within the last week, I contacted my county’s educational service center and was given an appointment to have my BCI/FBI background check completed. This is another major requirement I need to complete to become a teacher.

Also, I’ve been admitted into an online teacher certification program. Even better, my advisor is allowing me to take the methods course I need early on (in the second set of classes)  so I can become certified with the state sooner.

He didn’t allow this without some caution and at least three separate specific points: you may not be prepared, you may not be able to take all your classes in order, you will struggle to get all your classroom observation completed.  I assured him that I would manage all these things and pointedly kept up my insistence on taking the class. He relented, thankfully. It’s something I truly appreciate.

In addition, in late August I will attend a seminar that will allow me to become an officially licensed substitute teacher, which I plan to do while taking evening courses until I am fully licensed. In essence, I’m hoping this can become like a part-time job.

This is all just so much progress it’s hard to imagine it’s actually taking place. The first part of 2009 was so awful, I drastically lowered my expectations on the potentially good things that would happpen for me.

Whatever annoyances may come with owning a failing car, dealing with bureaucracies from two separate universities, financial aide and several portions of the state government, things are significantly better than they previously were.

July 19, 2009 at 3:04 pm Leave a comment

Split-second conclusion

The complete unexpected has happened.

On Sunday my boss left a note on my desk, highlighted and underlined, to meet with his boss at 1 p.m. Monday. His note said his boss did not elaborate why and he asked me to leave him a note acknowleding I received his note.

I did so, wondering the whole time whether I’d done something wrong. Was it the personal web surfing? Was it the uncashed mileage checks? Was it my lack of scheduling any vacation days? Or, was it something else.

When I got to work around 12:30 p.m. Monday my boss asked me how I was doing. But, once I responded, he failed to make eye contact, turned his back on me and went to his office, sometime he almost never goes.

He moped for another half-hour, because saying, “You’re ready to meet with Beth?”

I responded affirmatively, picked up a reporters notebook and pen and walked into her office. My boss trailed behind me.

Beth told me how wonderful of a job I’ve been doing, how she’s received positive comments from people in the community about, how my attendance was good and, ultimately, how she sorry but my position was being eliminated.

She gave me information on how to sign up for unemployment and cobra and Cobra. I couldn’t help but thing I was getting the better end of the deal.

After all my complaining about my former employer my tenure there ended suddenly and with remarkably little drama.

May 13, 2009 at 7:00 pm Leave a comment

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