Kids and Inclusion Classes

I have now had the opportunity to substitute teach in several honors, regular, and inclusion classes.  The classes and the individual students are all interesting in their own unique ways.

And I hope you are having a wonderful start to the fall weather!

welcome autumn


Oh, the thinks they say!

One middle school student was consistently mispronouncing vocabulary words.  One of the words that were giving this student trouble was “fatigue.”  She wanted to make the “e” on the end of fatigue a long vowel sound.  After modeling the proper pronunciation of the word, she wanted to know why the “u” wasn’t more emphasized.

Later in the class period, this same student exclaimed that “the story was so boring!  That no one wanted to know what the medicine bag looked like!  Who cared if it was worn in places and tied with a leather strip?” When I mentioned that it was a technique called imagery, she asked…no, demanded that I spell it for her.  Once I did, she looked up at me and asked, “You mean Im-MAG-ery?”     It was all I could do not to chuckle out loud!  I just got this vision of a little magpie bird who didn’t want to sing the way the rest of the birds are singing, so it’s going to go on pronouncing and singing the way it wants to!

National Geographic’s Illustration of a Magpie

And how they act!

In High School English classes, the students tend to fall into several different groups; some students want to avoid all interaction with others, some wish to talk to their nearest (or farthest) friend in the classroom, and some students want to talk to you and distract you from the fact that they are not doing the work. (Several students have tried to engage me in a conversation about reading for fun when the assignment was not even half done, many have tried to converse across the width of the room, and a few tend to draw into a shell, and most of them want the answers handed to them on a gold, gem-encrusted platter) Most of them have their cell phones, ipads, kindles, etc. that they would rather be playing with than paying attention to classwork.  Some of them can’t seem to focus, they want to get up and traverse across the room and up and down the aisles. (Maybe just a little bit too much sugar and caffeine)  And a select few of them want to sleep like Rip-Van-Winkle.

Honors classes can be either more focused on getting the assignments done or they can be extremely persistent about goofing off.  One or the other, but it is usually not a happy medium.

And in some of the inclusion classes, you really cannot tell who has a learning disability unless the teacher has a separate role or has left notes for you.  It can be obvious or at least more noticeable, however, when the student has a physical or sensory impairment, or the physical characteristics typical to Down syndrome.  And then you have the students with ADD, ADHD, or Tourettes Syndrome.

(Oh, and I did not know this until recently, but apparently, the attention deficit disorders and the Tourettes syndrome are not included in the IDEA provisions for special education unless they are combined with another disorder or disability. )

Most of these inclusion classes are required to have a co-teacher or a special education provider to aid you, which is extremely helpful!  The co-teacher lends familiarity and routine to the classroom, which helps the students settle down back into their habitual working habits(you hope!).  Several of the co-teachers that I have spent the day with opted, at times, to take any misbehaving students to a separate room, that way each of us had smaller groups to monitor.    But for the most part, having a co-teacher to monitor group discussions and help answer questions about the assignments or directions is quite awesome!

But I am enjoying meeting full time teachers and other substitutes during my adventures!

Ms. Turner


It’s never a good feeling when something a teacher does or says irks you and it keeps buzzing around in your brain. (Yes, I do tend to dwell on things just a bit.)

It is never a good thing when a teacher answers a student’s questions with a careless attitude, or makes the student think the question is not relevant.  The student has a reason for asking that question.  Do not treat the student as if they are insane for asking something that you have not considered before.


So here is a little bit of background information you might want for the situation:

1)      The professor has a doctorate in world literature.

2)      The professor has taught many different genres and eras of literature in several different countries.

3)      Our class is reading 19th Century British Literature and applying knowledge of the Victorian culture and the advancements of the time period to the literature.

4)      For this particular class period, we read Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1887).

5)      The class period was supposed to be broken up into an hour presentation on Darwinism and the effect that the Theory of Evolution had on Victorians, followed by an hour and a half discussion of Dr. Jekyll.

Now I will be the first to tell you that I write questions and notations in the margins of my book as I read.  And most of the time, I try to look up the answers in order to make connections between events and provide answers to myself.  This week, I ended up leaving several of my questions unanswered. (it happens sometimes)

So when we got to the discussion part of our class, I wanted to ask the professor and my fellow students their opinions and bounce ideas around… BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT A DISCUSSION SHOULD BE.


Our “discussion” consisted of our professor taking about five minutes to see what we found interesting in the text, lecturing for about 15 minutes on the themes of Dr. Jekyll, and about 10 minutes of students asking the professor questions.

That’s right.  Our hour and a half discussion was shortened to 30 minutes.  And I don’t feel like it was a real discussion, either.

I think I spoke up only three or four times in class… which is very little in a class of 12.

I spoke up when the professor was speaking about Darwinism shaking the foundations of religion and the literary device of poetic justice.  I asked if this was when literature began to illustrate more realistic endings such as the villains getting away with crimes. (Yes)

The professor lectured a little bit about the Victorian fascination with the idea of the Duality of Human Nature.  So I also asked if the Victorian Era was when scientists started using a dichotomy system to identify plants.  (The term that I couldn’t remember in class was Binomial Nomenclature)    I was greeted with silence and a brief Google of the term dichotomy… which yielded not much of anything useful.

I wanted to know if that fascination with the twin sides of nature was perhaps influenced by the scientific advancements of the time.  Binomial Nomenclature was a term that came into use in 1875-1880s, during the Victorian Era.  (So, yes)

Later on in class I asked when the Opium Wars occurred.

Strange question, right?

My professor looked at me like I was odd in the head.

“Your questions are always so… interesting” is what he said, but the look on his face and his tone said otherwise.

Is it a strange question? Is it a stupid question? No.

When you look at the way that Dr. Jekyll’s life fell apart due to his addiction to the pleasures he experienced after letting go of his inhibitions, imbibing a certain potion, and “freeing” Mr. Hyde.  He even exhibits the classic growing tolerance for the drug, the addiction costing him money, and suspicion falling on his good name as he continues to be influenced by his addiction.

Opiates were one of the more readily available drugs of choice for the British populace due to the Empire’s influence in India, the poppy fields they grew, and the trade routes to China where opium was extremely profitable for the Empire for some time.

Turns out both Opium Wars occurred in the Victorian Era.  The First was from 1839 to 1842, while Queen Victoria was still relatively new to the throne.  The Second occurred from 1856 to 1860.


At first they may seem like odd questions or random question, but they have relevance to the lesson at hand.

Professors, if I am paying your college several thousand dollars to attend your courses, don’t shorten my class and make me wonder why I’m paying you money for something I can look up on the internet at home.

Teachers, Professors, please do not look at your students like they are insane for wanting to make a connection across curriculum.  Science and History are applicable in an English class.

Please, Please, Please do not treat a student’s questions as if they are unimportant, or a waste of class time.


Thank you for listening,

Ms. Turner

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