Sometimes it is not that bad. Mostly I am trying to stick to subbing at the special ed or early childhood programs, because I like it a lot more than trying to take charge of a whole class of 20 hooligans who are trying to be as bad as possible! There are about 3 schools in the district that I go to regularly. There are other schools in the district that just don't have as many special ed or early childhood classrooms. And there is one school that I have actually cut off from calling me to sub, because of how people have treated me there. These 3 schools I frequent, I've somewhat gotten to know people... I mean not like I'm friends with them, but at least I recognize their faces and know some of their names!
Of these, there are some classes that I really enjoy going to. I always enjoy the kids, so it is really the staff that makes it or breaks it for me. In some of the classes, the staff members are cheerful, calm, have senses of humor, and seem to enjoy being with the kids. I mean, nobody is in a great mood at all times, but they definitely try to make it a pleasant environment for everyone.
There are other classrooms where the staff members (teachers and assistants) just seem so irritable all the time. They snap at the children all day. It goes beyond discipline, and just seems like they just can't stand the kids! The children get yelled at for saying, "Goodbye, books," when the books are collected after Read To Self time. ("NO! We do NOT say goodbye to BOOKS!") They get yelled at for asking if they can sing the "pizza song" during circle time. They get yelled at for putting two different colors of playdough together (like yellow pizza with red pepperonis.) They get yelled at for crashing the toy cars together. They get yelled at for touching the wall with their hand as they walk along in the hallway.
Yesterday I had to help out while several preschool classes were having gym time. Their gym time is run by the classroom teachers and assistants, not a PE teacher. The teachers had decided to teach the children "Red Light, Green Light." The teacher in charge would hold up a green piece of paper when she wanted them to "go," and a red one when she wanted them to "stop." But the 3 and 4 year olds, who are not known for their impulse control skills, kept forgetting to pay attention to the colors of the papers, and the teacher was not using verbal cues, so kids kept on running when they were meant to top, and stopping when they were meant to run! So all of the teachers and assistants were yelling at the children, and grabbing them by their arms and yanking them back to the start line if they didn't stop right away. Because they noticed that the children just weren't getting it, they decided it would be a good idea to make it even more difficult. Now, if the "light" was red, the children were supposed to freeze and not move at all... not swing their arms or turn their heads, And all of them kept getting sent back, and all of them kept getting yelled at, and nobody was having fun! I wanted so badly to run out of there!
Multiple times I've been sort of scolded myself for not scolding the kids for something I didn't think was an issue. I mean they wouldn't come out and say, "WTF," or anything, but they'd storm over and yell at the child, and then frown dramatically at me. Once I was working with a kid on an art project thing, and I asked him to write his name on the back of the paper. He sort of just scrawled the letters across the back. Having never met him before, I just accepted it... it looked pretty typical of how a 4-year-old would write their name, even without special needs. But an assistant came over and yelled at the little kid to do better, and then frowned at me and said, "He's playing you!" But how would I know? If I knew the kid, I'd be able to recognize what was sloppy work from him, but I'd never met him before at all!
In the class I was in today, there were not many kids at all. It is a class for kids with autism, so they have it set up ABA style, where there are enough teachers that each child will be working 1:1 with a teacher most of the time. Since some kids were absent, there were actually less kids than teachers, which meant I mostly just sat around looking awkward while everyone else works with kids. In that room, the staff members tend to almost completely ignore me. I kind of played with whatever kids were in the play area (usually 1 kid at a time) but that makes for a loooooooong day, especially since most of the kids are not very interactive.
So tomorrow I have to go there again... and now that I write about it, it sounds stupid, how much I don't want to go. I feel like crying or hyperventilating when I think about going. I guess it just triggers my anxiety issues. I keep telling myself, just chill, enjoy the kids, and don't worry about what the other people are thinking of me. But I keep getting that sick, can't-breathe-right feeling whenever I think of it.
I keep telling myself, "This is just what I have to do for now." Because I have a goal! And by this time next year, I will be the teacher at Over The Rainbow! (Although I might have to call it something else, because there are a whole bunch of kid-related businesses called Over The Rainbow, in Oregon. I was thinking maybe Kaleidoscope. What do you think of that? Or maybe I could have a contest on this blog, and ask you guys to come up with your ideas, and then we could vote on the best!
See, just thinking about all that makes me feel better. But I know in about 12 hours I'll be feeling like bawling as I get ready for work! I DON'T WANT TO GO!