Just Another Substitute Teaching Job

September comes. School is back in session, but I know it will be several weeks before I’m called upon to fill in for teachers.

Until I get the first call…before September comes. WHAT?

The Long-Term Job that Wasn’t

So I was a tad surprised when it wasn’t even September and my cell phone showed a text from one of the language arts teachers at the local high school.

This is the same teacher who asked me to talk about writing tropes during her J-Term book club. I’ve covered her classes many time.  At the last-minute or while she was off for long weekends with her family.

Apparently, she hadn’t had the best summer. In fact, she needed surgery and hoped it would only mean two weeks out of the classroom. I hope that’s true.

I conceded to cover for her. The entire month of October if she needed me.

Fast-forward to the last week of September. The job was cancelled. At the same time my inbox got that notification, a text came from the teacher. Complications. She has to wait until January for the surgery.

She’s frustrated. While I understand her irritation, I’m actually a bit relieved. I have deadlines and projects that need my attention at the moment. But January? I don’t even know what I’ll be working on then.

Maybe nothing. Read more about that here.

My Favorite School

After the cancellation, I decided I should check out the updated computer system.  While I was there, a job popped up: Friday in a social studies classroom.

At my favorite school. This also happens to be my local high school, the place where I won’t be doing a long-term job in October.

Civics class? A bunch of seniors who have a current events quiz and then preparation for presenting in a faux congressional hearing.

Topics they’ll “debate” ranged from lessening gun control (does this surprise you?) to improving schools to changing immigration policy. Yes, I’m the substitute teacher who walks by every group to ask what they’re working on (even if they’re on their phones and don’t appear to be doing anything remotely scholastic).

Two Weeks with Freshmen

This first job is in the hall where I worked with freshmen for the final weeks of the term last May while their social studies teacher was in Germany with a group of students.

When that teacher walked into the classroom, he gave me a high five. He informed me he was heading out of the country again in the spring. Would I be interested in covering for him again?

Because he wanted me to do it. And there would be dark chocolate as part of the bargain.

It’s nice to be wanted, right? Even if it does mean a couple weeks trapped in a room with freshman. One of the weeks in question being the week before Spring Break.

Can anyone say “Spring Fever”?

But, since I don’t know what else will be on my calendar, it felt pretty good to accept a paying gig for a couple weeks. It was my favorite school, after all, even if it wasn’t my favorite subject.

What do you remember about substitute teachers “back in the day”? I remember they didn’t do much teaching, but they did seem to think they had “all the power.”

4 comments

  1. Substitute teachers I had ranged from the great (“let’s get the set work done in 30 minutes and then we can tell jokes and stories”) to the abysmal (“oh, you did this grueling P.E. test yesterday? you can do it again today”).

    I remember that first teacher teaching us about democracy in Social Studies by having a vote on whether a disruptive student should be sent out. For the purposes of the vote, he dubbed the student “Slobodan Milosevic”; and the democratic diversion ended with the phrase “Slobodan, your comrades have saved you!”

    • Wow! I don’t think I have any clear memories about substitute teachers. I do remember generally thinking, “Well, today we won’t do anything” when I had one, but that’s about it. I try to engage students so they don’t feel that way, but if teachers leave plans that are basically an excuse for kids to goof off, what am I supposed to do?
      As for the democratic process, holding a “simulated election” is one of the best ways to teach it. Hats off to the teacher who realized that!

  2. Lol. The norm was a video, test or a study/reading day. But the good substitutes were engaging and interesting even if discussion was off topic and had nothing to do with the subject/class! Always made a nice break on the day.

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