Q: Due to my responsibility as a mother, I’ve become a professional substitute. My problem is one day I’m teaching first grade, and the next day I’m in high school, and the third day I’m in middle school. Frequently, the lesson plans are inadequate, confusing or non-existent. This lack of assistance leads to unruly classes. Will you please help me?
A: This type of problem is one of the most frequent ones I hear. Simply stated, you need to start a substitute teaching file. Begin collecting different materials suitable at various grade levels. Enter the classroom armed with such materials as crossword puzzles, word finds, map skills or specific reading materials armed with questions. I found books called Minute Mysteries very useful at many grade levels. Use these materials to either supplement the actual teacher’s lesson plans or merely to replace them. Going into a day where you are familiar with your own materials often makes the day less arduous. As a substitute teacher, you need to understand the academic requirements of each grade level. When assigning “busy work,” try to give a year or more below actual grade level. A treasure trove of materials for all learning levels are available either online or in bookstores. If you start each teaching day over prepared for that given class, a substitute teacher’s day becomes much easier.
Q: My son is severely dyslexic. Although only in the fourth grade, he is steadily falling behind. Neither my husband nor myself have any experience dealing with dyslexia. We’re at a loss how to help him, but we have to do something. Please advise us what we should do.
A: Most students acquire information through reading. That avenue of learning is less available to your son than most. Your “job” is to assist him in gaining information that he needs to learn. Read to him or record his assignments. If permitted, write down his answers to homework questions or have your son say aloud to you what he wants to write for a composition while you transcribe his words. Many parents use the computer application Dragon® Naturally Speaking to help their children with writing assignments. Continue to try to improve your son’s reading skills. A dyslexic child could remain in that state for the rest of his or her life. On the other hand, many dyslexic individuals improve their abilities in reading and writing. Finally, having your child utilize his skills on the computer in areas other than games; there are many activities that can be done on a computer with little or no reading ability.
Q: Our son is a senior in high school. He was a star football player, and quite a few colleges offered him a full scholarship. During the first of the season, he tore up his knee. We spoke to the coach, and he informed us that interest in our son had greatly diminished. We feel our boy’s life is forever ruined. Is professional football even a possibility now? What would you recommend?
A: I know things seem at their lowest point right now, but your son’s future is very much bright. After surgery, make sure your son dedicates himself to rehabbing his injury. Most schools with an injured player will “redshirt” a freshman athlete. Even if your teenager goes to a smaller, less competitive school, at some point he can transfer to a larger school. As for whether or not this high school injury might deny him a shot at professional football, not necessarily. So as difficult as this injury may seem, it may be a blessing in disguise. Realistically, to earn a livelihood from a sport for most of us is remote. Your son may begin to prepare for life without football, which may open new doors for him beyond anything he has imagined for his future.