So with the house decorated and the Christmas shopping done, one might assume that I'm having a rather relaxing month of December, right? Of course not. Life has once again become a whirlwind of activity. On Tuesday, I got an email from Madeline's teacher asking me to organize the Holiday Brunch for her class. I had already committed to organizing all the parties for Madeline's class for this year in September. I'm the room mom. I don't mind doing this, but I do mind that I was given 15 days notice. In an ideal world, the teacher would have notified me that there was going to be a party the weekend after Thanksgiving. Most people are busy getting ready for the holidays and getting asked to take off from work to volunteer at a party or send in hot food for a brunch is probably pretty low on their list of things to do. The party planning started off well enough, but we've now hit a lull and several key food items are still on the list and no one seems interested in sending volunteering to bring them to the school. So right now I'm just a little stressed about the holiday brunch.
On Thursday morning I got called to substitute for a 7th grade religious ed class. I agreed to sub and I discovered that the class was without a catechist. The teacher for that class showed up for the first two weeks of class and after that the class has had a string of substitutes. I felt bad for them. Clearly, no one was responding to the call for help in the parish bulletin for religious ed teachers. I talked to the DRE on Thursday and explained that I was going into this class with some trepidation as a sub and that based on how they behaved during that class, I would consider teaching the class. I was pleasantly surprised by the class.
They're typical 7th graders, but I didn't have any kids with bad attitudes. Sure, we had some moments where talking got out of hand, but for the most part, they were a pretty good group. I had one girl roll her eyes at me and that stopped when I informed her that I can roll my eyes, too, and have been doing it since before she was born. It always gets these kids when I call them on something they don't think I saw.
Since cell phones were a problem when I subbed for a 4th grade class last month I made sure the first thing I told this class was that cell phones weren't allowed to be on during my class, unless of course, they wanted me to get a cup of water and "accidentally" drop their phone in it. That comment alone was enough to make them all reach for the phones and silence them. They warned their friends as they came into the class to put their phones away or I was going to make them drop it in water. I can be a fun and fair teacher, but I'm not going to even try to compete with cell phones and texting.
I also made it clear to them that how they acted would determine whether or not I'd consider being their permanent teacher. They clearly were getting weary of having subs, and were surprised when they were told the old teacher had decided she didn't want to teach the class. (In fact, some of the kids were really hurt saying they did their best to be good.)
At the end of the class, I asked them to raise their hand if they wanted me to stay on as their teacher. It was pretty much unanimous (I had a couple hold outs who wanted to know if I was going to give them homework--a question I wasn't willing to answer.). So I informed the DRE that I would take the class. Ellie and I will now be spending our Thursday evenings in the company of 7th graders.
Since Thursday night, I have been busy writing lesson plans and trying to determine what I need to focus on in the class. In some regards, I'm at a disadvantage. As a convert to the Catholic faith, I never went to CCD or even a Catholic school. In fact, I stopped going to Sunday school in third grade because I HATED going there. (I used to ditch Sunday school and sit in the stairwell when I was a kid as young as 5.) All I have to go on is what I remember my friends telling me about CCD and what my husband remembers of his years in CCD. I used to quiz my friends on the stuff they had to memorize for confirmation, so I essentially learned all the basics by helping them study. So I'm not totally clueless, but I'm now entering a territory that is light years ahead of a kindergarten CCD class and is more in depth than the RCIA class that I went to for less than 6 months. I guess what I have going in my favor is I am well read on Catholicism, I'm familiar with the Bible, and I like to read the Catechism when I have nothing else to read, so I'm not oblivious and walking into the class totally blind. It's a big jump going from kindergarten to 7th grade, but already teaching this class is having an impact on my lesson plans for the younger grade. I can't explain it, but a certain clarity came to me in how I'm writing up my lesson plans for the younger grade when I formulated my plans for the 7th grade. It's funny how things click sometimes.
I'm feeling a little stressed with all the the new responsibilities, but I'm hopeful that everything will work out just fine. Now if I can just get the motivation to bake some Christmas cookies, my stress level would surely plummet.