Last year I was asked to step in and cover a class for a teacher who was inexplicably absent. The students had been "my students" for months and while I wanted to believe that they would listen to me better than they would listen to a substitute, they didn't seem to want to go along with that fantasy.
When I walked into that room and could not get the attention of the class, I asked why they wouldn't get quiet and they responded with, "You're not our teacher for this class. You're a substitute." From there on all bets were off. I walked into that class hoping only for some semblance of order and as little headache as possible. I was given no lesson plan, had no computer and no resources other than what I could scrape together in the room. My grand plan was to look to the classroom library, hand out books and ask the students to read (which really pissed off the absent teacher when she got back, as she'd spent some time working on that library). Their grand plan turned out to be something totally different, although it did involve books from the classroom library. My version involved books in their hands, while their version involved books on the floor.
Today I had my first coverage of the year. Like last year, I taught the class the period before and then followed them to the next class. Like last year I started with a joke along the lines of "You guys are SO lucky that you get ME for two periods in a row!" This class is the class that had been tearing apart our math teacher. This class has been the root of rumors and the butt of numerous jokes. Walking into the room I was less than thrilled to be holding a one-paragraph lesson plan with seventy minutes between us and lunch (during which I'd be running lunch detention).
What happened next was miraculous and surreal. I read the email to the students, gave them some paper out of a closet in the classroom and told them to get to work. It took them about ten or fifteen minutes, but the students got to work quietly. This was probably due to a lot of factors that I'll spare myself the task of writing about, but the point is that with a very similar population it was night and day from last year. Last year the students hardly considered me their teacher outside of my own classroom and the period they had me. This year, even though this particular group doesn't care too much for me, they recognized the fact that I was in charge in the room. That's very encouraging for when I have them in my own classroom from this point forward.
It's also pretty nice to identify another thing that's gotten much better since last year.
Today's Wine: SIPranillo Tempranillo 2006 (Spanish). While I generally like drier wines, this one was really well-balanced and went incredibly well on the table with some cheese and prosciutto. It's full-bodied, but was pretty soft on the palate.