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The Life and Times of a Substitute Teacher

I work as a substitute teacher and it occurred to me recently to write about my adventures in this employment that can sometimes resemble the wild, wild west in all its newness, vastly different landscapes and kids!

I love this job. It gives me opportunity to meet many age groups and different types of children. I have to admit a preference has developed, in a general sense, for two populations; the little ones (pre-K) and juniors and seniors in high school. Middle school can, admittedly, be a little rough. But, I manage to usually enjoy this crowd, too. All you have to do to understand how confused and awkward this age and phase might be is stand in the hallway during changing class times. You can usually witness a child walking by who could pass for a ten year old in stature, followed closely by a range-y six footer or more. And, sometimes, they appear to be best friends as they amble down the hallway chatting and discussing life side by side!

So, just regarding this last week...Earlier on, I did select an unusual assignment (for me) and subbed at a middle school. Oh, Lord...That was a bit hectic. They did start to get on my last nerve!

It was a smallish group and I understood it was for kids that struggled with reading and writing. These kids were difficult from the get-go, munching away at their various snacks while discussing the matters of the day and pretty much ignoring my various attempts to get their attention; in sum, just having a fine time of it.

Even attendance was difficult to accomplish. I would call out a name and I would get a yay or nay simultaneously from different parts of the room. Interesting, that! 😄

But, what I have come to understand is, in particular with the kids that struggle academically (and otherwise) that in their frustration and unhappiness, they will deflect and try to avoid this frustration and unhappiness by just being rowdy and difficult-especially when they are with their peers. If you catch them on their own, they can be really sweet.

For instance, one of the girls was applying glitter assiduously to the sides of her sneakers. I pointed out this was not the time or the place for that activity. (Though the glitter was very pretty!). Did she stop? Eventually.

As I was walking down a hallway later, this same girl was walking toward me, and I said, with a smile, “I recognize you!” She smiled back and with that seemed to communicate, “Yes, that’s me. And, I’m really actually a nice kid.” And, she is.

So, that is how it seems to go. If kids are rowdy in a group, with their peers, but then you have the good fortune to meet them alone, they are usually just really nice kids, though maybe a little lost and worried...

So, the class ended up going fine. I do think they all learned a bit about Ancient Greece, the topic of the day. And, more importantly, it evolved into a calmer situation and ended on a sweet note as they exited and proceeded into their next adventure.

So, more subbing adventures will be coming your way. But, I just want to end this particular post with a lovely memory from probably more than a year ago. I was going up to a drive-through window (Yes, I was treating myself to some fast food! 😄) and the girl there recognized me as one of her subs from a while ago and proceeded to apologize for how she had acted in the classroom. As she mentioned it, I vaguely remembered the scene. She described how she wouldn’t stop blowing humongous bubbles (She was talented that way!) even though I asked her to stop. Of course, I had let go of any irritation long ago. For me, she was just another kid being silly and, yes, a little annoying.

She apologized for this behavior from probably 2-3 years ago. It melted my heart. To think that she remembered and cared...

And, then, as I was leaving, a boy came running out shouting my name, and asking me if I remembered him and when would I be returning to that school...

So, as I proceed into more subbing adventures, I have the intention of holding each of the children I encounter in the light. Yes, some of them might seem almost beyond repair. And, of course, there are those that are doing really well. One is presented with the entire spectrum in this job...

But, they all deserve a chance. And, they all deserve love.

Next, in a future post, I will share my time with fourth graders. Now, there’s something to look forward to!

So ciao, for now.

Stay well.


PS The art featured is from a recent pre-K class. Isn’t it beautiful?!

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Loved this post. Thank you so much for sharing.

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You are most welcome, Michelle! So glad you enjoyed it!

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