Though Flying Blind, Neither Crash Nor Burn

The first day of student teaching went smoothly as could be expected, considering that my master teacher called in sick, and told me that I was in charge of her classrooms.

She told me in advance, of course. I serve as her substitute this week, so my immediate there’s-another-adult-around safety net was limited to a teacher-and-a-half, somewhere down the hall. They never showed, naturally.

I was flying blind in the loosest, least literal sense.

Somehow, it pulled together. I had enough mastery of the material — and enough mastery of her established routine — to wing it.

I did make a serious mistake in her first mixed government-English block — I didn’t initially let them out for their customary break.

For the uninitiated, this is an unpardonable sin in student teaching on two levels. First, and perhaps least importantly, I strayed from the established routine without telling the kids beforehand.

It was a minimum day schedule — thanks to a staff meeting from which my master teacher thankfully excused me — and I made the assumption that the barely 35-minute periods were more than enough excuse to keep them in class past the bell. It wasn’t like they had a passing period. Their next class was in the same class, with the same teacher.


I told them to keep working on their worksheets through the 7-minute passing time.

While the rest of the class moaned, three or four students quickly met my ultimatum with self-righteous fury, and I made the rookiest of mistakes. I caved in.

I probably lost quite a lot of respect from my students as a result. Never, ever, ever break that level of covenant unless ye wish to incur the wrath of the mighty, fiery, five-headed dragon of pestilent famine.

In short, a no-no.

The moral of the story? If you rock the boat, you will get wet.


  1. 1 Trial by Fire: Week One in Review « On the Tenure Track

    […] politics, substitute teaching, Week in Review Those first three words are all it takes. I was all by myself, but I did well […]

  2. 2 dy/dan » Blog Archive » Blog To Watch: Awaiting Tenure

    […] Though Flying Blind, Neither Crash Nor Burn. (On the first day of student teaching.) […]

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