Substitute Teaching and the Future of Society as we Know it.

Thursday: My first day of substitute teaching in 18 years.  I’m a bit nervous. 

7:20 am  First period…health class and the subject is nutrition.  At least it’s not the human reproduction system.  No one talks.

8:16 am  Second period…the adrenaline has kicked in.  The class talks…and talks.  I don’t.  Sitting behind the desk lessons impact.  I need all 6’2” and 2 bills today if I’m to make it.  A smile has long departed my face.  I resort to a scowl…or as I like to think of it…a tribute to my genetic code.  My father, who taught Sociology in the very school at which I am subbing, conveyed a slight scowl even when he was happy…which was most of the time.  Scowl is 64% effective in this class.  Must work on scowl.  36% of the class does nothing.  The most difficult student asks me if I will be returning tomorrow to sub.  I tell him I might just stay all night.  I sense inward satisfaction from the confused look that crosses his face.    

9:12 am  Third period…new strategy.  I display rules on the board.  Music (through their wireless headphones)…yes.  Knees facing forward…yes.  Talking no.  I tease them with a riddle at the beginning of class and tell them we will solve it together at the end of class.  This works to some extent.  Several are more interested in the riddle than they are health class.  Go figure.  I pace the room the entire period…a bit like a guard walking in the prison compound at recreation time.  I peer over my glasses at the few students who struggle with the guards rules.  It works on some.

Passion Periods:  These consist of 6 minutes.  I was amazed to discover that a teenager is incapable of stopping by a restroom or getting a drink of water within this time frame.  I was further amazed that most of our teenagers today have the bladder of a 72 year old woman.  I consider informing them of the prostate commercials I readily see advertising medicine for such conditions, but then I remember something said about subscribing medicine to youth in the teacher training.  Best to just avoid the subject.   

10:14 am  Period Four:  Lunch…at 10:14 am.  After asking for directions, I find the cafeteria.  I consider navigating the lunchroom waters but cannot muster the courage.  I choose a Gatoraide drink from a vending machine in the hallway and congratulate myself for avoiding the starch.  Back to my room for a bit of quiet. 

10:45 am  Period Five/Six:  Two periods that are just a bit longer than a normal class.  I return to my college days as I observe a clock that refuses to run any faster.  Even with a sugar filled diet, kids act better after their stomachs have been filled.   

11:47 am  Period Seven:  I have hall duty.  No one tells me exactly what that is…or how to get to the hall that I’m to monitor…but a student takes pity on me and walks me to my station.  My station…a desk like the kids sit in all day placed strategically at the intersection of two hallways.  I park myself and assume the position.  Elbows planted on desk, neck bowed at 15 degrees, and phone in hand.  Everything bodes well on Facebook.  Everything is fine in the hall as well.  I think.

12:18 am  Period Eight:  I continue hall duty.  Please see the previous paragraph. 

12:49 am  Period Nine:  Back to pacing and scowling.  No announcement of a riddle at the beginning of class.  I reserve the right to offer riddles based upon class behavior and my mood.  The star of the basketball team refuses to do anything.  Since the assignment isn’t due till Tuesday, he informs me he will do it tomorrow.  I inform him he may have the Corona virus by then.

1:45 am  Period Ten: I’m scheduled for “Prep Time”.  I prep myself straight to the parking lot.     

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