I think not only as a substitute teacher but as a teacher and parent, the biggest challenge will always be “Did I make everyone feel good today?” Learning is of course the #1 mandate for any educational setting, but true learning is difficult if students are expected to learn in an unsafe or even indifferent environment. This past week, my priority was to leave everyday knowing I made the students feel good and knowing they learned something. If you focus on one or the other, it defeats the purpose of school. If you focus on both, it makes school not only tolerable, but truly enjoyable. And to foster a positive environment where EVERY student feels important, valued, content, and challenged is a difficult task to undertake EVERY day.
I really found myself using my parenting skills this week – when the kids had boo boos, I showed much more empathy than some other people might, but I know the kids need that support. When some kids were being particularly annoying (one 6th grade lad keep screaming loud and sudden screams for no reason), I used my stern parent voice mixed with a dash of warmth — I said “Dude. Bro. Your screams are given me an instant headache. I love you but if you scream one more time, I’m gonna have to turn from Nice Mr. Holden to Mean Mr. Holden. I know we’re gonna have a good day together but it relies heavily on you keeping the screams on the playground where Mr. Holden is VERY far away… cool? Can we keep the screams on the playground, bud?” Once I got his confirmation, I smiled and said thanks. And he was pretty much on my side for the rest of the day.
At the end of this week, I felt tired but happy. I know that I was appreciated by the teachers and the students, and I gave about 2000 high fives so that’s pretty awesome on its own.
This week involved performing with the grade 4s at Festival Place for their Spring play, subbing for Grade 1, Kindergarten, Grade 6, and Grade 5.