Tips as a Substitute Teacher

One of my jobs right now is a substitute teacher (or guest teacher as they call us here). I’ve been subbing off and on since 2016, with at least 12 months under my belt, and have done every single grade level K-12 in every single subject, plus special ed, detention, and the alternative school. So, I’d like to think I know what I’m talking about.

Here are some tips I’ve learned as a substitute teacher:

1. Have a ‘bag of tricks’.

What I generally like to have with me are games and small candies. If we finish the lesson with time to spare, I like to let them have fun. Generally, I’d do vocab guessing games or math games or random history facts games or riddles. I’ve even done Mafia/Werewolf. And candies are an extra incentive for a job well done.

2. Be honest.

Science is not my forte, so when students in science classes ask me a question I don’t know, I tell them honestly. I try my best to help them, but sometimes it’s more than I can understand. I also apologize for being bad at pronouncing/remembering names, because I am. The only time I am not honest is when they ask my age and relationship status. “I’m 1,348 and engaged to Prince Humperdink.”

3. Music.

I’m a person who needs music. It calms me down. That’s why I play instrumentals (piano) in the background. Music also helps the students focus, so win-win. Occasionally, I’ll play, as a treat, regular music that I already know is clean and school appropriate.

4. The theatre voice.

Sometimes students get too loud, so I use my acting training and project. I don’t care how loud you’re talking, I can talk louder. When they are quieter, I talk in a normal tone. Don’t be afraid to use that voice.

5. They should know respect and responsibility.

I am known to be stern or strict among those students I sub, but that’s what makes me good at my job. The students are expected to show respect to the authority in the room; I’m there to help them learn and do well. They are also expected to be responsible in doing their work, however able to do it. When a student is disrespectful, I warn them before they are punished. When a student is not doing their work, I tell them. And because I am so straight-forward, they see me as mean. But at the end of the day, they got work done so the teacher doesn’t have to worry.

6. On the flip side…

I am determined to be a respectful and responsible adult. They only gain my respect when they lost it in the first place. Every student starts with respect to them: who they are, their challenges, their quirks, etc. And I am responsible for maintaining a productive learning environment. I don’t simply give their work and call it a day, I make sure they understand what to do and help them (without giving answers).

7. Lastly, what to bring.

Don’t wear heels. Mercy me, do not wear heels. Bring food. It’s 8 full hours. Bring water. I’m a Diet Coke-holic, but I drink only water at work. It’s better for you. Bring a book. Teachers have prep and lunch to do what they need to, and that’s the time I read. Keep yourself from getting sick and bring tissues and hand sanitizer, and use liberally.

And that’s some of the many things I learned as a sub. Maybe I can help a fellow sub, or even a teacher. Maybe you can use these tips in your daily employed life. I don’t know. Your own discretion.

Hugs

Alexandra

Happy (Belated) Valentines Day

Valentines Day was yesterday. And it’s not a holiday I look forward to or really enjoy seeing.

I don’t hate it. But I don’t love it. I’m just wondering why we even have it in the first place. There’s no point for it.

However, it’s a thing and what can I do about it? Ignore it? Have you seen the stores? Hate on it? Why do I want that kind of negativity in my life? Give in and start liking it? Why do I want to celebrate something I don’t believe in/have no interest in? Why are there so many questions?

So, I don’t mind it. I just don’t actively celebrate it.

I’ve never had a valentine (no, I’m not bitter, it’s just a statement), and why would I want a day to celebrate love when we should celebrate every day. The only Valentines Day I really enjoyed was taking myself to a theater to see a murder mystery. Yes, death and suspense, best Valentines Day ever.

If you celebrate Valentines Day, Happy Valentines Day! I hope you had a great one and that you gave and received all the love possible. While I don’t actively celebrate, I do wish happiness on others.

And no matter how you celebrate this random (in my opinion, unnecessary holiday) it is okay. However you want to celebrate is good.

Hugs

Alexandra

P.S. Thanks for being patient over the week. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep on top of the blog for a bit, though my production is coming up and during the performance weeks I might slack. Apologies again, and thanks for being you.

Meet Moro

I got a dog.

She’s a Belgian Malinois puppy, and boy is she a handful. She was at the local animal shelter, scared out of her wits, abandoned, and without a name.

My mother thought it was time to get me a doggo, so we decided to check out the shelter, and I fell in love.

And so I named her Moro. (10 points if you know the reference without Google)

She’s precious, sweet, a fast learner, and so excited about everything.

Prepare to see (and hear about) her more.

Favorite Authors and Why

I read a lot. Sometimes/usually when people read a lot or watch a lot of movies or have deep passions for something they don’t have favorites.

I do!

Off the top of my head I have four favorite authors with a number one favorite writer:

#4: Mitch Albom

I read his work last year, and I was hooked immediately. Starting with the five people you meet in heaven I loved his writing style. I was excited to read his work, which I read five of last year. In fact, his latest book came out last year and I had a conniption when I saw it in Barnes and Noble. So, he’s my favorite because of the stories he tells and his style of writing.

#3: Dan Brown

The guy responsible for The DaVinci Code which caused so much controversy. What I love about his work is the research that goes into it and he has my favorite literary character ever: Robert Langdon. I’m a student of research, that’s what I know and love. I am fascinated with every book. The movies are great, but the books hold so much information that you lose so much of the plot and even characters by just watching the movie. My favorite of his is The Lost Symbol, the one that’s probably not gonna get a movie (boo). This book had the best villain Langdon has come across, and it’s a shame that we can never witness it on the big screen. So, he’s my favorite because of characters and research behind it.

#2: Agatha Christie

Oof, I love her so much. Best known for her mysteries, she is one of the best selling authors to date, and her play ‘The Mousetrap’ is the longest running play in history. I adore suspense and mystery, and she does it perfectly. I have read over a dozen of her books, and all of her plays, and I have yet to correctly guess the killer. There’s a reason she is and always will be the Queen of Mysteries. And side note, I am so glad BBC is doing mini series of her books now. ‘And Then There Were None’ (my favorite book of hers) was fantastic to see on screen, and now I get to search for ‘Ordeal by Innocence’. So, she’s a favorite because I can never figure out whodunnit.

And #1 (no surprise): Edgar Allan Poe

Yes, he’s an author. People try to convince me he’s simply a poet or a writer. No, he’s written a book, so he’s an author, fight me. He was a tormented soul, and we do have to acknowledge he was a troubled individual. However, he wrote some amazing dark work. He revolutionised the gothic writing, and, fun fact, he had one of the first papers conceptualising the Big Bang theory. Okay, it was a poem, but still. He was brilliant. His narration was on point, his writing style was crisp, and his themes were wonderous. I adore everything about his writing (though I don’t condone it). So, he’s my favorite because of…everything.

This list is never set in stone. I mean, Mitch was added only last year. Someone else may be added. Someone might even be taken off. If you have favorites, don’t be ashamed. If they change, don’t be ashamed. The mind is fluid, so why can’t our tastes in books be.

Love

Alexandra

Spewing Happiness

There’s something to know about me: when I’m in a state of joy, I ramble. I yak about stuff about me.

I never believe I’m narcissistic. Yet happiness causes me to talk about myself? Honestly…I don’t know.

I just found out about this myself.

I’m involved in a production that has been super stressful. I’ve not been a happy person for a while. One night, I was chatting up with a couple of the actors and I was TALKING. I’m usually a listener, but I was spewing words about theatre, Glasgow, writing, YouTube, and some of the coolest experiences I have been blessed to have.

I didn’t feel a need to show off (I don’t think), and I didn’t think they were bored with my behaviour (I don’t think).

I like to talk about things I love when I’m happy.

Should be said, I didn’t steal the entire conversation. They had their points to make about theatre, makeup, production, and competition. And I listened to them. When it was appropriate, I talked about things that make me happy.

Anyway, later that night, I felt super guilty about sharing so much. I was so worried that I made that whole conversation about me and now they hate me and want to stay away.

But that’s my depression and low self esteem talking.

I believe that happiness is sharing what you love. You don’t need to talk about it like I do, because that might be a little problematic. Do it in your way, but don’t be afraid to share your interests. Be happy.

Hugs

Alexandra

#metoo

At this point, it’s not a surprise.

I’ll spare details, but I have two incidents to share for message purposes.

I was 15 when I was followed on my way home from soccer practice.

Don’t walk alone. And if you must walk alone, be prepared. Pepper spray. Cell phone (don’t look down at it, since it distracts you from your surroundings, but have it at the ready). When I had to take the Greyhound from Virginia to Idaho, Vladimir gave me a knife, which I kept in my pocket 24/7. After what happened, when I’d walk home from rehearsals in college, I’d call someone and talk on the phone the whole way there.

I was 14 when I was assaulted by a girl in my P.E. class.

It’s not just boys assaulting girls out here (though it’s still a problem). Girls can assault girls. Boys can assault boys. Girls can assault boys. It can go any which way, but for some reason anything beyond boys assaulting girls is almost swept under the rug. That’s why when it happened to me, I was called a liar and that girls can’t assault other girls.

Bullshit. Yes, they can. Support your friend no matter who they say did it.

Those are two moments.

I wish nothing but safety for everyone.

#metoo

Being Fat is Unhealthy

That’s the stereotype, right?

If you’re a chub, you’re unhealthy, eating nothing but McDonalds and sitting lazily in front of the TV.

Genetics, DNA, chemistry, science; they have nothing to do with it. You’re fat because you do nothing, and that’s unhealthy.

It’s something I’ve faced my whole life.

I’m fat (used as a descriptive, not derogatory word). I’ve faced ridicule from classmates, teachers, co-workers, even strangers. Trying to do anything was a challenge when they believed you weren’t capable because of how you looked.

I was told I couldn’t try out for basketball because I was too bouncy and soft.

I was told I couldn’t be on the softball team because I wouldn’t fit into the uniforms.

I was told I couldn’t be an Egyptologist (my original dream in life) because there was a lot of outdoor activity that would strain an unhealthy (fat) person.

I was traumatized by a physical education (P.E.) teacher who tore me down for my weight in front of classmates, which would spawn a dozen years of self-hate.

I was told my fatness was causing ulcers, when in reality I had a life-threatening infection spreading to my kidney and stomach. (Don’t even get me started on doctors who believe everything wrong with you is because of weight. I could’ve died, and they barely looked at me before saying it’s because I was ‘obese’).

I was too fat to be on a horse, to tap dance, to act on stage, to be in improv, to do anything. Despite doing those things anyway.

And don’t even get me started on diet!

Countless times have I been asked if I ‘should really eat that?’ when it came to anything non-green. Basically, if I wasn’t eating raw spinach, my dietary choices were in question. Heaven help me if I craved some pizza.

I can’t do sports because I’m ‘unhealthy’. I can’t perform because I’m ‘unhealthy’. I can’t eat ice cream because I’m ‘unhealthy’.

I’d like to sat hello, as a girl who was a Varsity soccer player, and who had an eating disorder in high school and college.

But I’m fat.

So I must be unhealthy.

Book Club! (and apology)

So, this month was a roller coaster, huh?

Though I didn’t properly announce it, this month was what I call Down Series month. All my posts were super down in the dumps.

Reason being, January is a harsh month to go through. Divorce rates get a little higher. Bankruptcy rates shake. Seasonal depression hits. There’s no sun. There’s no money. And so many people get sick. It’s known to be the most depressing month of the year.

Not to downplay the severity January can bring, I figured if I got a bunch of sad out all at once, the rest of the year can be brighter. It’s an experiment I’m willing to try.

And if January is getting you down, know that the next month is right around the corner. You can get through it, and seek help if you need it.

I’m sorry for bringing you down with me. Hopefully we can still be friends?

Moving on. Until the videos get up and going again, I’m gonna do monthly bookclub here (doki doki).

The first book I read was Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie. If you didn’t know, Christie is a favorite. Right up there with my Poe man. The last couple of books I read of hers were meh, but this one reminded me why I love Agatha Christie’s writing! Cleverly put together with great relatable characters (and one over dramatic one). And, as usual, I couldn’t figure out the ending. 4.5/5 stars.

The second book I read was You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I actually don’t usually subscribe to self-help books, but everyone kept talking about this one so I gave it a shot. And I can understand why everyone was talking about it: it’s great! If you’re sceptical, like me, about self-help books but desperately need, like me, to help yourself, this is the book to check out. 4.5/5 stars.

The third book I read was a library book store pickup from the 80s called Why Did She Have to Die? The title pulled me in, even if the cover was a vomit of 80s. What I really loved about this book is it accurately depicts the stages of grief. I read this in one sitting because I was invested in the protagonist’s grief. 4/5 stars.

The fourth book is Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. I was told about this book from a friend of mine who loved it in her youth, so I read it. And loved it. If I could fault one thing, it’s the cliffhangers he always puts in. ‘It would never be the same after tomorrow.’ Too much. However, it has great messages and reminds me of how cruel high school was (and how much I wish I had a friend like Stargirl). Young or old, read this. 4/5 stars.

The fifth and final book I read was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I’ve always been fascinated by TV and movie versions, but I never read the book until now. Quite different than I expected. I still debate whether it was a good or bad difference. I do prefer ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ version. 3/5 stars.

And voila, a good start. I read five books when I only needed to read three. I’ve got a head start on my year-long challenge.

Let me know what you think of these books if you’ve read them, and leave me suggestions for books! I’m always looking for more.

Remember, starting Friday we’re back to uplifting stories and confident messages.

Hugs!

Alexandra

A Small Crack in the Dam

One of my favorite moments in life is when my sanity is pushed to the breaking point, and when I snap I get at least one of the following statements:

“Where’d that come from?” “Why are you mad/sad all of a sudden?” “What just happened? You were fine a second ago.” Bleh bleh bleh. (Also, I’m kidding, I hate this happening).

It didn’t come suddenly.

That’s what people don’t seem to understand.

Do you know why a small crack in a dam is so dangerous? Because it can spiderweb, crack some more, and eventually break the whole dam, drowning everything in its path.

People are dams.

When they explode, it was the final crack before the dam burst.

And because the person was only there to witness one crack, they defensive, confused, even angry. Not understanding that there may be more to it than telling someone the printer is out of ink, resulting in a machine gun fire of profanities and crying.

Most of the time we don’t know when our dam will burst or what will do it. That’s why it’s called a snap: it’s sudden.

I, personally, feel like I’m only a couple of cracks away from a dam burst.