Monday, February 26, 2007

The thing about substitute teaching is that you aren't really teaching. As a Sheep Dog, I round up students and keep them safely within the classroom and building boundaries but I am rarely asked to teach. I am always a little thrilled when the Shepherd has left lesson plans for the day (psst! Mr. D, those photocopies of pages from p. 112 did not fool the Sheep who know that they are currently working in Chapter 10 between pages 347 and 360. Nope, didn't fool them at all, they refused to ruminate on the material.) The thrill is even greater when the plans ask me to actually teach something because at heart and by training I am a Shepherd. I got applause from one Shepherd because I followed the plans and textbook and covered perimeters in such a way that the Sheep did not need to be re-educated by the Shepherd when he returned. Woohoo! I do understand that many Sheep Dogs are not trained teachers, requirements for the position include a clean background check and a high school diploma or equivalent, and that most Sheep Dogs do not wish to teach.

Today I was Sheep Dog to two flocks of piano students. It was fine. They were well behaved and only one or two tried to bolt the field. Things were a little unsettled since school opened two hours late because of lingering snow issues. The first two periods were each only 20 minutes long and the last two periods were the normal length (2.5 hours and 1.25 hours). Most of the day I sat and knit on a sock while a room of sheep plunked away on keyboards, the quiet made possible by many headsets.

Sometimes being a Sheep Dog is easy and sometimes it is difficult. I have not had a fire extinguisher dropped on me or sexually assaulted or beaten up but I am always aware that I am only one angry or unbalanced sheep away from trouble. My instructions are to confiscate ipods or cell phones that are not put away during class. In general the Sheep comply but when they don't I step back and call security and fill out a PS74.

I was horrified by the official notice regarding breaking up fights that all Shepherds and Sheep Dogs received from the County. The County pointed out that no Shepherd is required to stop a fight and that all adults should consider the possibility of damage to themselves when intervening. Then the County made a point of mentioning that if a Shepherd intervenes to stop a fight and injures or appears to injure a Sheep then the Shepherd will be held accountable and charges may be filed. Furthermore (!) if a Shepherd does not step in to break up the fight and a Sheep is injured then the County points out that the family of the injured Sheep may hold the Shepherd accountable for any damages and may file a lawsuit against the Shepherd which the union may or may not be able to help with. Aiaiaiaiaiaiaiii! How is that for mixed messages?

I have been knitting. Some days I have lots of Sheep Dog time for knitting; it depends on the field and the sheep. Knitting pictures of various scarves, hats )maybe) and the elusive Birch will be posted as soon as the camera battery is recharged.

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