Wednesday, September 30, 2009


“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” Marian Wright Edelman

I received a phone call last evening requesting that I report to a third-grade class at the inclusion school today, which meant that there are normally three adults in the classroom, so I’d be working with at least one other person. I was sure that plans were left for me, but I brought a few things anyway. When I arrived at the school this morning, it turned out that most of the staff was attending two sets of workshops., so I was to be in the third grade for the morning and in kindergarten for the afternoon. As a substitute teacher, I’m used to having many different roles, even in one day.

It’s interesting to work at the inclusion school. I love to see how children with a variety of abilities interact. The school where I previously taught had inclusion classes, but never to the degree this school designed to accommodate. I’ve learned that there will always be one student that virtually (or sometimes, actually) needs his or her own shadow. Often, s/he acts out constantly, so much effort is used in quieting and redirecting the child. This is why it’s critical to have several educators in a room, to keep that student from impeding the education of all students in that classroom. And as I mentioned in another blog, it teaches the other children tolerance and even empathy.

Working as a Substitute in an inclusion classroom is also mildly frustrating, because I don’t have easy access to the students’ education plans or the luxury of time to peruse them. I’ll ask the teacher I’m working with for some guidance, but there certainly isn’t time to go into detail about even one child, let alone all of them. So when I assist the students academically, my concern is that I’m not helping them in the best way I can. Which approaches would’ve been best at the math tables I headed? Which students needed the most support during reading and how would they have benefited the most? One day won’t make or break anyone’s progress, but it’s another reminder that my impact on children’s education is slim to none right now, which doesn’t feel good to this teacher who wants to teach.

My hope is that each student I work with makes me a better teacher. I’ve never just wanted to educate the “average” children, but also the high and low performers. When I have my own classroom one day, I don’t want anyone lost in the shuffle. And maybe I’ll even leave notes for my substitute, so s/he knows best how to help the students who need it the most.

“I’m thinking back to the old days, when I used to be a Jedi and could do anything I want.”

Answer by a kindergartner today, when I asked why he was sitting instead of playing on the playground.


  1. That's a brilliant answer!
    Did you ask him how it came to be that he was no longer a Jedi?

  2. @ Alesa, I should have asked him! I was trying not to laugh. Beside, he was so pensive. The boy was five, so how long ago could it have been since he was a jedi?!

  3. Perhaps he belonged to the legendary caste of intra-uterine jedi? It's a circle of jedi who are connected by the force while in the womb. Naturally, they lose the clarity of thought they had upon birth, but as they mature it comes back to them as half forgotten memories. : j

    Joking set aside, children dreamers sometimes grow up to be storytellers...

    I remember recess at that age: pacing along the lines of the faculty parking lot, collecting acorns, or napping on top of the monkey bars. I didn't know about Jedis, but if anyone had bothered to ask I'm sure I could have told them all kinds of stories and imaginings that filled my head. ; j

  4. When I was young, my friends and I spent a lot of time making up elaborate stories (about what, I have no idea), swinging, and climbing.

  5. And now you're a teacher and a writer. Both logical extensions for a story oriented person. ; j