The last three weeks have been kind of a blur. I'm leaving soon to pick up my daughter in China, and I've had to prepare things for the person who will take my classes. She is a world-class teacher (that's no exaggeration), but she is very different from me. She takes much of her personality out of the classroom so that the math and the kids are the focus. I insert personality into the classroom so the atmosphere is a little more relaxed. I'm sure, though, that few other teachers will be able to get through as much material as she will in this kind of awkward situation.
The most interesting thing i did to prepare was to write about 1 or 2 sentences about each of my students that I though would help my substitute know what to expect and give her ideas about how to teach them. The comments range from "natural-born problem solver" to "not part of the social scene in the rest of the class" to "not bad with manipulating symbols, but lacks understanding of their meaning" to "this student will suck the life out of your class if you let him". Needless to say, they are meant for confidential study only. But it was interesting because I needed to say so little. These were a very rare kind of notes for a teacher to write. Notes from one professional to another. We know the types, we know the problems that come up in class, we both know what kind of information is useful for teaching a kid of that age. To most people, they would look like a random set of comments about kids' personalities and math abilities, but to us they are tidbits that will make the classes run much more smoothly. It's a chance to let my guard down because I know I'm speaking to someone who knows exactly what I mean without having to be extremely precise or diplomatic. I think that pretty much only teachers understand how many of those thoughts are constantly going on inside teachers' heads at every moment. If those descriptions ever fall into the wrong hands, though, I'd hate to think what will happen.
Of course, this means that I might not be posting for a while. (I'll wait while you stop sobbing.)
My thoughts are, of course, not very focused on my students. I think I've been doing a decent job of keeping them in mind while I'm teaching, and I don't think I've been in any way unprofessional about it. But it's clear that my students this year won't be getting quite as much thought from me as my students of other years. Maybe, now that I'll have a kid, that's going to be true for the foreseeable future. I don't know. Right now, one of the parts of my job I like the least is dealing with parents (even the supportive ones, sometimes). I mean, I don't detest it most of the time, and I'm glad I can help them (like when I noticed some potentially useful aspects of a childs visual processing difficulties), but it's rarely a fun part of the job. But I suspect that I will start to identify better with parents once I am one. If I am ever as annoying with a teacher as some of the parents at my school are with us, though, I hope someone tells me so I can be properly humiliated for my hypocrisy. I don't ever want to inflict that on any teacher.
Okay...this is likely to be my last post for a while...at least until I get back in a few weeks. Have fun, kids. No parties. Please don't trash the place while I'm gone.