bingo! |or| be more prepared than a lost boyscout

Music bingo! Six periods of music bingo.

It was one of my earliest adventures in substituting. I was used to lording over kindergarteners but suddenly I was a tiny, inexperienced woman in a sea of 8th grade super-giants who towered over me. Luckily, they all had to sit on the floor.

Successes: Not many. At this point, I was still learning through trial and error. I still do that and I will my whole life, but the problem is that I hadn’t been through any trials yet. The teacher left 4 or 5 bags of jolly ranchers to be given out as prizes for bingo winners, which is great because sugar. I called out the numbers and once in a while, I would ask if a student knew what the symbol or note was in the picture (a half rest, a whole note, a “C,” etc.), and that student got a piece of candy. I thought it was a good reward system that I thought of myself, which is ridiculous now that I think of it, because having to name the symbols and define the terms should have been part of the game in the first place.

Failures: I had trouble controlling the loud, over-active boys. They started throwing the bingo chips, which was the #1 no-no and I should have shut down the game right at that moment, but I gave it a glare and kept going until someone got a bingo. Then I shut it down. However, since we were playing on the floor of the music room with no pencils in sight—and I knew I would never get a straight answer if I simply asked them if they had any pencils—my threat of forcing them to do a word search failed. I walked around and asked if anyone knew how to beat box (no one.) until I finally came up with playing Name That Tune. The boys enjoyed it! Especially the ones that I would think were “too cool for school.” I only wish I had more titles ready for them because no one could think of any on the spot.

The next class was worse—much worse. I can only be thankful that they only had 5 minutes left before I shut them down, but it was a brutal 5 minutes. It quickly became chaos as I realized I had not given any instructions before disbanding the game. Whoops.

P.S. I also got asked for my number by a giant of an 8th grader who looked like an acne-riddled version of Fulton from the Mighty Ducks. Fantastic. I said no btw.

What I learned: BE PREPARED to expect the unexpected. Grow some balls and also have a contingency plan. The principal (I assume) walked in on my last class—all girls and they were behaving wonderfully. I quickly learned that this can happen at any time and I can only hope he didn’t walk through one of my earlier classes because I would have had no idea.

What I can try next time: Have some emergency plans- writing prompts, more organized games, formatted discussions, team oriented activities, a talent show even.
Grow said balls. Point out the detention pad first thing. Issue one to the first kid who truly deserves one. Praise good behavior.
Come with 30 sharpened pencils every time to every class. No classroom has enough sharpened pencils and damn do those kids love to get up and sharpen them some pencils.

Looking back, I think I could have done a fine job if I was given this assignment today (3 years later). I’m glad I’ve stuck with it because being tossed into a battlefield of drooling giants is sometimes the best way to learn.

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