Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shhhhh.....I Got Banned from La Canada School

God help me I love Doyle Brunson. He continues to live a long colorful life committed to poker and golf...2 of my top 7 favorite pass times of all time. He has a new autobiography (Godfather of Poker...I recommend it highly) that I was deep into reading the second week of March 2010. I had subbed 2 days in a row, study hall, Thursday and Friday the week before at Maple High, our alternative school in the district where I actually first started reading the book, and the day before (Wednesday) I was in Basic Math at Cabrillo High...the day after (Friday) I was in Home Ec. at Lompoc High where I actually finished the book. Little did I know I would be blindsided by the Instructional Assistant who shall remain nameless in Resource at La Canada Elementary (ya I did not remember her name that day...didn't think anything of it). But perhaps if I had been more social I wouldn't have been banned or at least I would have known that she was stressed out or appalled by me or something....or could she just be racist? I just know I feel oppressed by the whole banning thing.

I did my job...ya I enjoyed reading the book. I also enjoyed interacting with the students as I was instructed to in the lesson plan. I have been fortunate to have really great lesson plans for most of my assignments most of the time. I don't expect a lot...especially if there is an established routine in a classroom...which of all places there is in Resource...maybe more than most classrooms. So I wasn't all that worried when the lesson plan was way less than perfect. I arrived in the classroom about 30 minutes before the school day began. The teacher was in her office. I read through the plan. She was going to be on campus...she seemed to know that the lesson plan was less than complete as she made a point of telling me that she would be on campus and if I had questions I could call her but that hardly ever is necessary and I told her we would figure it out. The Instructional Assistant arrived in the classroom just before the students arrived.

The introduction phase in most classroom settings for me as a sub is usually administrative...taking attendance. Not so in Resource the students have already been accounted for in their regular class and they are only coming into the Resource for a period or 2 (surprisingly in this class an hour or 2 for a couple students and a normal 45 minutes or so for some others) to reinforce and support their learning experience. At Maple taking attendance is intense as the students have individual time card style sheets that they turn in at the beginning of class. I assemble the sheets in alphabetical order and take roll off of them....easy peasy....the students wait patiently....I get a feel for whether they have something to do as I can tell who is settling into work or socializing...Once I'm finished I can lecture them on the extra credit assignment the teacher left for those who don't have independent study work to do...Great Job...thank you Mr Trevino!

On this day at La Canada Resource the teacher left me a time line style schedule of the students by who would come and what she wanted them to do....I asked her before she left what time lunch was and if there was a break and I wrote the times in the margin of the lesson plan. I didn't have a roster of all the students....just the ones that were assigned to the teacher. I don't know who the kids were that were with the IA...and I surely didn't know what they are supposed to be doing. Should I have asked the IA what her kids were doing? Should I have been involved in whatever her lesson plan for the day was? I sure didn't think so at the time. Usually like when I was in resource at Los Berros in Resource on Monday for a day 2-3 weeks before, the IA usually takes a lead role in the classroom as they usually know the students names and they know the routine. There is usually some rotation of geography like teaching in different areas of the classroom. Not so in La Canada Resource. All day at La Canada I felt pinned to the kidney shaped table on the far side of the classroom away from the entrance and the office where the teacher was sitting when I arrived that morning. At one time I looked around and thought if this was my class room I would probably arrange things differently in here....but it wasn't my classroom and it wasn't my place to say it was set up weird....I just followed the lesson plan.

I did the reading assignments with the students...directed them in their related written work and a self directed math worksheet, and then got them started on reading....or free play... The lone student from the group with the missing 4th graders was allowed to be on the computer and I set a timer for 20 minutes before he was supposed to read...They all had work folders with all of their assignments in them...I didn't have work to give them they didn't have work to turn in...they left completed work in their folders.

I'm not sure at what point the IA felt whelmed. There was a point near the end of the day when students were supposed to be reading. Most of them had finished their books...they were standing around the teacher's office area with the IA. I got up from the kidney shaped table as I would normally do if students are roaming about and I asked them what they were supposed to be doing. This is usually a very effective way to get students to get focused on the task at hand. The IA told me they were waiting for the computer for their AR tests for the books they had read. I sat down and picked up my book...I looked at the clock and decided that in 15 minutes I would do another roaming student check...which I did and got the same reply from the IA again. There wasn't any discipline issue as far as I could tell...they were socializing quietly waiting for the computer. There wasn't any instruction for that. They were with the IA and she did not indicate to me that they should be doing anything else.

There are a couple of issues that made the lesson plan impossible to follow 100%. There usually are things like this that come up and it normally doesn't bother me...I simply go with the flow and keep the learning environment calm and safe...I'm only there for one day. First and foremost the lesson plan did not reflect that all of the 4th graders were not in school that day...they were on a field trip. The lesson plan did not identify what grade the students I was assigned were in...but the boy that was in the group by himself would have normally been with a few 4th graders...doing the verbatim text book reading assignment with him one on one went pretty fast...Another thing was that the teacher did not identify the text or lesson in the text exactly. There were 2 text books that were basically the same except for they were different grade levels. She didn't know which lesson the students were on and the lesson plan actually had a guess to the lesson number, but said to ask the students...they would know...that worked OK with the kids that were in the other group that apparently weren't 4th graders (about 4 in the group)...but it wasn't 100% certain...the IA didn't know which book was for which group or whether either of the books were the right books or whether there was another text somewhere else. Maybe this would have been a good time to call the teacher....but we muddled through based on what the students remembered and recognized and the work that was in their folders that went with the text book curriculum. The lesson number that the students said they were on that we read seemed to match the work in their folders which they completed.

There was a student doing independent work. She had a book report that according to my lesson plan it was due that day. I made a point of asking her about it and got the impression that this wasn't necessarily an academically deficient student but maybe more of a case of OCD or Asbugers as she was adamant about being on top of it and wanting to be left alone to do it herself. I didn't have a problem with that...but then she was called out of class for a conference...I could only assume it was part of the meetings that the teacher was out of the classroom but on campus for....it was not reflected in my plan and she left her work on the desk like she would be back and she didn't come back for a very long time.

The Pers-98a form that Principal Carmen Chavez sent in to the Personnel Office was sent to me the first week of April 2010 during spring break. The teacher, Dana Finlay, emphasized my shortcomings in the classroom as my "use of time" and I quote: "The sub read a book while the students were in the resource room. The IA managed and instructed students when she was available but could not instruct all students. The sub did not provide any direct instruction or partial instruction according to the requirements/outline given"

With a couple of checks in a boilerplate form I have been banned from La Canada Elementary School...It makes no sense to me and I am thouroughly offended.

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