Substitution: From the Other Side of The Desk
I am now a substitute teacher. I think I prefer high school so far; I only have to take roll, and the kids just kind of do their own thing, calmly. All I have to do is babysit.
My first day on the job I babysat thirteen high-school guys in what was essentially a computer lab. The teacher talked to me before I left; he only wanted to make sure they didn’t play online games. All I did was stop three of those guys who didn’t repeat the offense after I pounced on them the first time. They were set to work on a final group project, but nobody said they couldn’t watch a spoof of Yu-Gi-Oh at the same time and surf text-based websites, too. Ah, well. That’s what the teacher gets for giving them Internet access.
Then I tackled a second-grade class. After an hour with them, I finally found the instructions that the teacher had left for me, underneath a reading book. That first hour was the worst, just because I was winging it completely. Sure, I had his schedule written on the board, but I sighed with great relief when I found those instructions. I found I stank at picking them up from lunch/recess (wrong door, didn’t know I needed to go with the rest of the second-grade teachers). I was constantly telling them to sit down. They behaved atrociously, as all students do for a substitute.
Don’t you remember elementary school? I do. The sub didn’t know the rules of the classroom; thus we could break them because we knew they wouldn’t be enforced. It was Anarchy Day. We were always scolded and punished the day after, but that was to be expected. Kids are always naughty for subs; if you go into the classroom expecting that, the job goes a lot easier. Just make sure that they’re occupied, that they don’t break anything, and that they don’t hurt each other too badly. Still, I refuse to substitute for middle-school kids; I remember being so verbally cruel to our substitutes that many of them ran out of the classroom and didn’t come back.
Surprisingly, math and art were the most successful sections, maybe because math was right after lunch and right before recess, and art was right after recess. I did a fair bit of actual teaching for Math and for reading. I can teach, but I can see how I would get sick of it easily. That’s why subbing is good; I won’t ever have to see those kids again. I can forgive them for being little hellions, for drawing on the board and “lying to me” just by not mentioning that’s “not allowed”.
The most amusing thing was that I got three drawings from three girls in the class. Appropriately, they all thought I was gorgeous. I had one little girl give my knees a hug several times that day, and pet my hair, and draw me a portrait. I might make that my new icon; she helped a lot. Of course, I also had someone ask about my hearing aids and someone else ask me if she could untie my shirt (!). That same little girl was really confusing; sometimes she was helpful by handing me things like the hall pass and the rain stick (which was the teacher’s effective way of getting their attention), and yet other times she was just as mischievous as the rest of them.
All in all, a chaotic and jarring experience. I’ve had a few days to mull over all these details and let it sink in. There is still a bit of a panic-regret feeling that creeps up when I think about it. If I ever get offered another elementary school assignment, it won’t be for another few weeks. I’ll stick to high school.