Two days into my indefinite semi-regular subbing position, and so far so good. I received a warm welcome from the secretary to the principal, who took the time to show me the route way back to my classroom and made sure I knew all the routines, and that I could drop in or call any time with questions. Later snagged me to introduced me to the top four in the main office, the principal coming across as a kind, rather than driven, leader, and the assistant principals maybe more intense, but that’s only momentary impression. It was a step up from the lowly semi-anonymous role of sub in a too hectic, just jump in and sink or swim elementary / middle school environment (which is okay too, there being more important people to attend to, as in the students). My fellow biology teachers were helpful and welcoming, and one turned out to be a neighbor whose chicken our husky killed a few months ago. All water under the bridge now, with her two new chickens filling the void.
Interesting being with these older kids. They don’t seek the connection that the younger ones do, don’t seem to need the same kind of affirmation and encouragement, and certainly not so much quasi policing, as ten-to thirteen year olds. I have more mental space to consider the planning of the actual scope and sequence of content, with the help of two other biology teachers, the one I’m subbing for being too embroiled in medical concerns to contribute at this point. The other two teachers have shown a perfect balance, really, of being available to problem solve and offer suggestions, and trusting me to figure it out as best I can until things get settled. The main thing for me is to get things moving so the students’ time doesn’t get wasted and they learn what the syllabus says they should.
It turns out high school biology hasn’t changed much. The first day we wheeled in the microscopes and did the same cells lab I did decades ago. Plant and animal cells actually still contain the same organelles as they did back then. I expect that our experiments on growing plants under different light conditions will have predictable results, though I hope to show at some point, say in the spring, that seeds really do grow fruit and vegetables, and not just sickly root bound things that are thrown in the garbage after a being watered and measured for a few weeks. Saving the revelation that bean seeds can really produce beans really shouldn’t be reserved for advanced agriculture students in this day and age, in my opinion. And that late November is not really seed starting season. I do believe I once saw a greenhouse at the side of this school building–another thing to explore. Maybe we can start a plot of strawberries and compare my new organic fertilizer mix to miracle grow. Strawberries in June would be sweet!
To help the students review cell structure and function, I had them sketch and narrate to one another in pairs (each had to choose someone they hadn’t worked with before, which worked well–seems many didn’t even know one anothers’ names). Told them how small, frequent encounters with information in various modes would alert the brain that this ought to be long term memory material. They were pretty successful at this, seemed pretty engaged, maybe even pleased to work with someone new. They’re expecting a quiz Monday. Then it’s on to photosynthesis, my favorite subject.