Well it’s been a month, and I am no closer to having a job than I was the day I was let off. I have however successfully created a situation in which I can observe, volunteer and substitute in an effort to maintain, improve and reflect on my practice. Fortunately my placement region is where I grew up: New York City. Because of this, I have a lot of options available to me that other CMs might not. I reached out to the Alumni Office at my elementary school to find out how I could go into classrooms as a volunteer or observer. It took me a little while to connect with the people I actually needed to speak to about being active in this way, but it finally happened.
This morning I went in for a meeting with the Lower School Head to meet her and talk to her about what I wanted to be doing. After speaking with her briefly about my history and qualifications, I mentioned some of the teachers I had in early elementary school who still work at the school. She immediately asked what I was doing today and asked if I could substitute for one of my old teachers who had a family emergency to attend to. They had been calling all of their usual subs, but to no avail, and I would be doing them a huge favor. Of course I agreed.
I had a wonderful experience today. It was my first time working in a first grade classroom- having taught third grade during institute and teaching Pre-K in my placement. However, since I am certified through second grade, and the teaching positions I am looking at currently are mostly Kindergarten and first grade, it was a perfect opportunity. The school is one that creates rich and diverse learning opportunities for its students, and as such, even in a class of 12 (I don’t know the total number of students in the class, but there were 12 present today) there are two teachers at all times. This allowed me the opportunity to be in the classroom as a teacher, working actively with the students, but also meant that I did not have to take complete responsibility for what we were doing throughout the day. The classroom’s assistant teacher took on the role of lead teacher while I adopted the assistant teacher role. The day was already well planned and the students had a number of projects they were working on. Additionally, I had never focused on just how wonderful it is to have your students out of the room for art/shop/PE/dance/music, lunch, and recess. It means that teachers have a chance to take a break, grab some lunch, plan, file papers and collaborate.
I now find myself in a great position- I am free to go and observe and volunteer at any time, but I am also being put on the regular substitute list. This is pretty much the opportunity of a lifetime. I will be learning from teachers at one of the best elementary schools in the city, working with students, and improving my own teaching. I couldn’t ask for something better to help me deal with the boredom I’ve been feeling since I’ve been jobless (except for a job).