Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Off the Road Again

Back in the classroom after a week in Long Beach working with the Freedom Writers Foundation to engage, enlighten and empower a group of 30 educators from across the country. It was my first extended absence from SLA, and I wasn't sure how things would play out with my sub.
Moodle was helpful in automating my class, but the substitute was, shall we say, "colorful."
While that could be seen as working for me in that my students heralded my return, the loss of face time, of structure, of concrete learning in my absence was worrisome.
While I'm uncertain of the degree to which I should accept the truthfulness of their statements, my students reported the substitute teacher said that iPods were outlawed in the city of Philadelphia, that working in groups was not allowed (I left a group assignment and outlined it as such in my lesson plans) and that moodle was off limits.
I hate leaving my kids with anyone else. It comes with the vibe of teaching the "Classroom of Love." Still, I should be able to. The tools exist. In many lessons, I approach the goal of facilitating self-directed learning over simply teaching.
Why, then, does leaving the room to a substitute create the havoc it does? The substitute teacher was a former full-time educator, she has had her own classroom. As such, the execution of the lesson plan should have been simple and effective. Though across the country, I was still facilitating. And yet.
The system was broken somewhere. That's my initial response. Further consideration pushes me to think that perhaps the teacher, the actual person, is of more importance than thought. The tools, the collaboration, the self-direction - all tied up with the presence of the teacher.
Is this true? Poke holes.
More later.