Yeah, I know. Seventh Grade. I cannot imagine anything easy about working with students in this awkward age in society where respect for authority is lacking somewhat. Nevertheless, I figured that the worst possible assignment is worth looking at just for the experience.
Room 206, starting with homeroom, the challenge was to hold the students attention while being in a wheelchair. At 5 ft 4 in the chair, I do not enjoy the physical presence of someone who is standing. The sense I got was that they would not pay much attention to me, and there were those who would try to push the envelope.
I was not disappointed, as it happened just as I envisioned. At least I was treated the same as any sub at this school in this grade. There was no prejudice against the wheelchair, the instigators being equal-opportunity troublemakers, loudmouths, and/or attention grabbing kids. The class was Geography, and the teacher left the same worksheet for all five classes: Read pages 41-44, and answer the questions on the worksheet. I gotta tell you, this was very easy work IMO. However, it seemed like too much for many of the kids in there. They did not want to do it. I said a more than few times “Fine, it’s not my grade, it’s yours”.
But I don’t believe that all the classes were bad: the third of the five classes was the best behaved, I think that class was the most studious of all. I think that they were taking algebra, and were generally more into working and learning.Even they could make a dull roar. The worst was the fourth, the homeroom returning for the class. I guessed that the teacher that had this particular classroom was a big man, really imposing and he could maintain order just by being big. Other teachers I asked confirmed this. Note that in even the loudest classes there was a core of 4-5 students who took the assignment seriously, and they wanted to learn, and could block out all the distractions. That was nice to see.
Would I do it again? I will, even at the middle school. I need work, and will do this while pursuing better paying full-time work. I do think that much of problems you see with students starts at home. As background, the city where we live has a population of about 18,500, with city problems. There are projects and pockets of poverty, and middle class suburban areas where we live. While trying to avoid class or sociological reasons for this, I would say that many of these kids do come from broken homes or homes where schooling and learning are never emphasized. If you do not have parents pushing you, it is hard to get an appreciation for school. And many of the ones that aren’t working these easy assignments in seventh grade may not really do so at any grade level. That is the sad takeaway of what I saw. Nevertheless, I enjoy a challenge, so we will see if this can happen again.