I had one of those rare substitute days. The teacher actually wanted me to cover a short overview on their next chapter on the Roman Empire. I know enough to teach the 6th graders something. I had them open their books and turn the pages with me as we discussed the chapter headings and the yellow highlighted words. Virgil changed the names of the Greek Gods. It is a republic like America. Caesar won the civil war (like the one America fought). Talked about gladiators and got them to realize who the modern American gladiators are. Jesus is in the text book. He taught by parables (one of the highlighted words). A description of the good Samaritan is in the text book. Christians are persecuted and then Christianity becomes the religion of the empire. I had two young men object to talking about Jesus letting me know that it was against the law. I just had them turn to the page (like they should have been) and realize that it is in their text book. We examined a map and I asked them to identify the modern names of countries that were part of the Roman Empire including Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) . We talked about aqueducts. Spanish word for water and ducts bringing heat into the room. I really enjoyed this quick overview that lasted about 15 minutes in 6 different classes. There assignment was to write down two things about the Roman Empire and two things about the Roman Empire that they would like to know more about. I noticed several students wanted to know more about Jesus. I found the whole experience exhilarating. Then we watched the second half of Hercules.
This was the second day in a row that I covered for the same teacher. The last period is one of the most out of control classes I have had to date. Yesterday at the end of the last period, I found myself helping one girl call her mother. The students had overturned the trash can as they left the room and there was a big pile of trash left in the door way that all of the students had to cross over in order to leave. At this point I asked the two remaining young men to help me clean up the papers. One was the loudest and most out of control student of the day and his quieter enabler. They, without complaint, helped me clean up the mess. So I bought some candy bars and after we went through the review (noisy but fun) I talked about the new placement of the trash can. As they all began to tattle I asked for quiet and asked if the person who knocked the can over wanted to come and take responsibility for the action. (I was going to have the person pick up the papers on the floor and give him a candy bar). No one came forward. I then publicly thanked the two boys for helping me clean the mess and gave them each a candy bar. We went onto the movie but this class is just so loud that I had to take action. I got them quiet by turning off the film and turning the lights back on. I began to explain to them that they were out of control and that I would be sending anyone who made a sound to the office. I let them know they could read or write but I wanted no talking and no moving. I let them know we were starting right now – and sure enough I was challenged not by the loudest kid, my helper, but by the second loudest. I told him to go to the office. It was 25 minutes of pure silence in the wildest class I have had up to date. I think they were even amazed.