Monday, December 10, 2007

Strangely comfortable

Substitute teaching is turning out to be actually enjoyable, sort of (usually).

This is very unexpected.

Going into it, I figured that subbing would be an expedient way to keep my rangering job, taking the good with the bad, paying my dues etc. But it turns out to be kind of fun.

So far I've worked 13 gigs and I have (currently) 14 scheduled into the next school year. I've got jobs lined up already this week for today , Wednesday and Thursday. I'm finding that I can work five days a week with no problem.

So the jobs are available, but why has it been such a near-pleasant experience?

Recall, reader, that one of the goals of this blog is to help ranger hopefuls find the path to rangering. With the given that there are precious few full-time Ranger positions out there, the likelyhood is very high that if you find an opportunity to work in one of our National Parks, it will be in the capacity of a seasonal Park Ranger which will provide you with endless satisfaction but only a half a year of work.. Filling that other half (as well as the pantry and gas tank) will require another job. Substitute teaching can be your ace in the hole when it comes to finding off-season employment.

Turns out that subbing might not be such a bad way to spend that off-season.

On reflection, I find that my approach to subbing is very different than when I did it two years ago. Then, I took any job offered, any subject, just to keep the revenue stream coming in. I ended up working at some pretty inhospitable schools and was scrambling all over the district. I think that I worked maybe twenty differrent buildings over the course of four months, and I never became a familiar presence at any of them...just another sub with no name.

This year, I've been very selective. My focus has been on elementary schools only, and three in particular, all but one of the above mentioned gigs have been, or will be at these three schools.

One is an elementary school here on the side of South Mountain, I can walk there. The other is in the outskirts of Hagerstown and is sort of the "showcase school" - they seem to want for nothing as far as support and resources (that's where I am this week). The third is an urban school smack in the center of everything, in one of the oldest most bursting-at-the-seams building with some really challenged and challenging kids but an incredibly cohesive staff and supportive administration.

I'm known as "Mr G" in the hallways and many of the classrooms at these schools. Kids who tried to butt-heads with me initially have been won over or have simply thrown in the towel. Most of the kids seem to really enjoy working with me, after their initial apprehensiveness. I tend to start out the day very stern and gradually let up on them as the day goes along.

I think the key to success is that I'm staying within my comfort zone: working with little kids, and not teaching math or science (I also passed on a phys ed job yesterday evening).

As I was making supper on Friday evening I mentioned this ephipany to my wife. She was very happy to hear it as she really wants me to continue on as a Ranger. As she reminded me, this is the path we chose to be on by moving here.

And so far so good.

Don't forget to raise your hand if you have something to add,

Ranger Mister G

1 comment:

Patrick Lewis said...

Glad to hear the subbing is working out for you. I'm in a similar position with a couple of NPS seasons under my belt and a few more before anything permanent looks like opening up. Luckily I've got grad school to entertain me right now.

I appreciate your mission to help guide more dedicated people to rangering. I fear our history may be doomed without motivated people to interpret it. Thanks.