Teachers may unexpectedly have to substitute for a subject that they themselves do not know very well. This is what happened to Antti Koskinen from Espoo.
Espoo teacher and assistant principal of a co-educational high school Antti Koskinen recently found myself in a challenging spot.
He is responsible for arranging high school substitutes in situations where the teacher is unable to hold a lesson due to, for example, illness, training or a sudden departure.
Now a chemistry teacher was needed, but a substitute could not be found at short notice.
“If someone calls at 8:30 in the morning that they can’t teach at 8, there aren’t any master’s students who are suitable as substitutes until there’s a queue outside. Then you often have to improvise,” says Koskinen.
Koskinen teaches history, social studies and philosophy himself. Since there was no way to find a substitute for the chemistry class, he decided to jump into the role of teacher himself, even though the subject is the most difficult for him.
In order to prepare for the unusual lesson, Koskinen pored over the chemistry textbook during jumping class and thought of examples in advance. At the beginning of the lesson, he openly admitted to the students that he is not very familiar with the subject.
“That’s when you realized the thinness of your own competence. I was always one why question away from the I don’t know answer,” Koskinen says.
He also told about it on the messaging service Twitter, where he humorously described that he “didn’t feel the ground under his feet” during the lesson.
Although suddenly jumping into a completely different subject may sound wild, but according to Koskinen, this is, after all, a fairly everyday activity. A teacher who is often absent has, for example, already given instructions on what to do in class.
“These classes can be rewarding for the substitute, when you have time to talk to the students in a completely different way,” he says.
The situation can also be fruitful in terms of learning, says Koskinen. Difficult questions can be turned into an information search exercise.
“In the end, the chemistry class went quite well, at least in relation to my own skills.”
On Friday afternoon, Koskinen has placement assignments again, this time mathematics and probability calculation. Fortunately for Matika, she feels that she knows chemistry better.
“Today we’re going on a bit more sure footing. But only a little.”
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