My school gives each department a monthly pull-out period for collaboration. One period.
I dig the collaboration, but calling in a sub for just one period throws off my game in a way that no one else in my department seems to mind.
Everyone else takes the loss in stride and adjusts pace to account for the lost period. Me, I tense up and pray for some freak snow flurry to close school and balance out my other periods. It’s awful. Plus I plan sub periods as strenuously as I do regular periods and wind up with with 50% more prep work the night before my department’s planning sessions.
But I think I got it right this time.
I exported the period’s Keynote slides to PNGs and recorded a voiceover track in GarageBand using my iBook’s built-in mic. Neither of those tasks required more than three clicks.
Then I pulled ‘em both into Final Cut Pro …
… and lengthened each PNG to match my voice. (iMovie will do the same thing, as I recall, but I haven’t played with the newest version.) Then I burned a DVD.
Time cost: considerable. Somewhere around ninety minutes, though forty of those could be chalked under the Bumblin’ Around column, playing with formats, etc, time I’ll save next time
Moreover, I didn’t lose nearly as much ground as I would’ve with my usual lame sub-day regiment of handouts, book review, and a few Hail Mary’s for my sub.
Moreover, at a distance, I could …
- … introduce the sub. (“Listen to Katie,” I said, just guessing at the name and gender of my sub.)
- … set expectations. (“Hey, kids, it’s Mr. Meyer. You know I hate to miss fifth period but it couldn’t be helped. Assignments are worth triple today so don’t blow this.”)
- … banter a bit. (“So who can tell me which conjecture cracks this thing wide open for us? [long pause] Nobody knows this one?!”)
- … and freaking teach.
That last feat demanded I lighten up on my usual conviction that text rarely mixes well with PowerPoint. Ordinarily, I throw a diagram or a graph on the board and spin a conversation around it. The slides had to stand alone here, though, so I crowded ‘em up more than I would’ve liked.
My sub’s only official capacity was that of Pause-Button Pusher. At various times I’d instruct “Katie” to pause the DVD so the class could work through a problem. I told the kids they could ask her to pause at any point also.
I caught the last five minutes. No one freaked out over the experiment, like, “yeah, Mr. Meyer, that was way more fun than a movie … thanks!” but the sub was keen, the kids were into the novelty of it, if nothing else, I didn’t have an educational mess to clean up the next day, and I didn’t embarrass myself by praying for snow in sunny Santa Cruz.