Monday, February 4, 2013

First Subbing Gig

Thoughts while substituting in a special needs preschool class in small-town South Dakota:

- No security going in the front door.  I walk into the office and the secretary smiles sweetly. “You must be Gwendolyn!”  (Note: it always jolts me for a moment when people start off calling me Gwendolyn.)  She has me sign in and directs me to the preschool room on the other side of the commons.  No ID check or anything.  I could have been anybody.  I’m glad I was me and not an armed assailant.
- This building is cold.  I should have worn layers.
- OK, the preschool room is warm, as are the preschool teachers I’m assisting.  Two of them.  Sweet ladies.  But they need an assistant for seven kids?  That makes me wonder.
- The kids arrive and gather in the book area where I plop myself down and enjoy their regaling me with the stories they make up flipping through the picture books there.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  These kids are adorable. 
- Walking with one girl as she pulls a loaded wagon through the hallways to work off some of her energy so she can focus a little better (apparently, this is a frequent need for her).  She’s talking my ear off and I’m only catching about a third of what she’s telling me.  Too cute.
- The good morning song . . . the calendar song . . . the days of the week song . . . and the teacher uses a karaoke mic to get the kids to use their verbals skills and sing along.  Brilliant.
- T-boy has his ABCs down – even though he can hardly pronounce them.  The wagon girl . . . can’t tell if she’s got them because she’s looking at everything but the flashcards I’m showing her.
- A quick trip out of the room to help monitor 3rd grade recess.  Indoor recess, thank God – it’s freezing outside.  I don’t ever remember having indoor recess, but surely we did once in a while . . .
- Back to the preschool room.  I’m kind of surprised at how much time they spend sitting on their little colored squares and listening to the teacher, or trying to listen.  This is clearly a primary objective here – getting the kids ready to sit and listen to a teacher in a regular classroom soon, they hope. 
- The little downs syndrome boy is falling asleep on my lap.  He’s only three.  Oh, yeah.  I could stay here like this for a while.
- Lunch in the break room with some very nice ladies.  Somebody brought pumpkin spice cake and some kind of cherry dessert to share with everyone.  This is good.
- Now I’m helping monitor the kindergarteners in the lunchroom.  Lots of manpower used for crowd control here.  Layers – I MUST remember to wear layers next time.
- A little girl in a wheelchair (who I met earlier in a brief visit to her old stomping grounds in the preschool room) calls me over to tell me that the girls next to her just said something mean about her not being able to walk.  And I freeze, suddenly not sure what to do about this.  I don’t know any of these girls . . . I don’t know what words were said, what motivations were behind them . . . but another aide steps in and takes over with a conversation among them all.  She tells me later that this young lady has become self-conscious about her legs lately, and the question from the new girl about “how she got hurt” set her off.  So relieved.  I would have had no idea how to handle that.  Oh, the challenges of being the sub and not knowing the kids . . .
- Can’t believe how much food is going in that trash can . . .
- Nap time . . . more letter and number review . . . an art project . . . and wagon girl still can’t get herself very focused.  I’m sent with her to roam the halls again, this time with a tricycle for which her legs are not qui-i-ite long enough.  I understand now why they need three adults for seven kids.
- Would I mind doing curb duty while the teacher waits for two more moms to pick up their children?  That’s what I’m paid for, I guess.  More crowd control, just this time bundled up in the cold wind.
- And I sign my time card and am off.  Again, no confirmation of who I am at any time by anyone.  Not that I mind, but if my kids went to school here, I might worry a bit.

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