Dear Substitute Teaching 101,
You were never a course on my official transcripts. Having become a teacher first, you'd think that I'd know how to be a substitute teacher. Well, it turns out that substitute teaching--although similar to a regular teaching position--has its own special quirks.
In my few months of substitute teaching, I've been in classrooms all over our district in several different grade levels and positions. Although I prefer primary grades, I am gearing myself to step into the classrooms of older children. I must say that I have had very positive experiences thus far; there have been no disasters or mishaps to
10. A substitute has no leverage. Being in charge for those few hours or a day hardly makes a sub have any real sort of authority. Sure, most kids will listen to your requests and oblige to your commands, but if a child does not want to listen, there is very little that can be done since there will be no follow-up the next day. One could leave a note for the teacher, but one is fully aware that oftentimes it could reflect unfavorably upon oneself as "a weak sub." #DoAsISayOrElse?
9. A substitute will be asked--no fewer times than the number of children in the classroom--the question, "may I get a drink of water?" as if the world's supply of potable water will cease the very next day. Furthermore, imagine this as the most volatile chain reaction that chemists have ever seen: think nuclear fissions brought about by one
8. Subsequently, if those children did in fact drink all that precious water they claimed they needed, the next obvious question to attack the sub like a swarm of bees--literally and figuratively--would surely be: "may I use the washroom?" #YouWentFiveMinutesAgo
7. There exists a staff member in the school more popular than Santa Claus himself: the nurse. "May I go see the nurse?" is such a popular phrase for subs that you'd think the nurse's job is to pass out candy to children who go visit her during school hours. #NoYouDon'tNeedABandaidForThatMicroscopicCut
6. Some children excel in slow motion and big smiles. When a substitute teacher is given a schedule by which to follow for the day, one minds that schedule. Except when one child holds the class back because he takes forever and a day to change into gym shoes. And when you're just about to "chop-chop" the kid, he gives you the biggest smile to forcefully make you swallow whatever was coming out of your mouth right back down where it came from. #WorkItSmiley
5. A substitute will be able to spot The Angel of the class within 30 minutes of being in the classroom (if the teacher has not already written the child's name in the sub plans). The Angel will be the sub's Right Hand Man for the entirety of the day. These children are Life Savers; they know everything and anything there is to know about the school day and do all the right things. #MyBFFForTheDay
4. By the same token, for every Angel, there exists a
3. Then there's always the "But our teachers says..." To which I want to reply, "Well, I've got a working brain inside my head that sits upon a strong pair of shoulders from which good judgement originates." But instead, I work my own ginormous Smiley and simply say #IAmYourTeacherToday.
2. And don't forget I come
1. Children do remember. These short term interactions with children are not nearly as emotionally rewarding as a regular teacher's gains. But even then, when I pass by a class of kids whom I taught over a month ago for one day, and the children say hello to me as if they've seen me every day since that one day, it's a return that keeps the flame lit and burning. #TheyLikeMeTheyReallyReallyLikeMe
So, Dear Substitute Teaching 101, these are the notes that I took, not for your course, but in-the-field and on-the-job. I'm thankful that I haven't lost any children to the washroom, made anyone become dehydrated from extreme thirst, or caused any child's significant blood lost from being denied of bandage access. It always helps to have an extra radar on for eccentric children who may have special needs in certain areas. And, usually, an extra dose of Patience and wearing a Big Smile usually make a day easier and more worthwhile. Substitute teaching is certainly anything but ordinary or mundane.