Sunday, April 16, 2006

Subs Are Not Us

Subs Are Not Us

As the year wears on the substitute teachers become odder and odder.

Subs basically fall into 3 categories,, gold, silver and badly tarnished cheap tin. The gold subs are retired teachers, usually teachers who have taught at the school
for years and years. They know the children – often they are their prior students, the routines and the school culture. They are highly prized, have their choice of jobs and are often booked months in advance. These are the subs one calls for in-services, personal days and jury duty.

Then there are the silver subs. Often silver subs are working on their teaching certificates and subbing to get experience, job leads and to find a school they want to work in. They come expecting to work and while they haven’t quite got a handle on classroom management they do an acceptable job. Some move on to become permanent full time teachers. Most schools have a pool of silver subs who get the call when the gold subs are busy.

And then there are the badly tarnished, cheap tin subs. These are subs that are willing to take a call on a rainy Friday mornings, the subs that show up when you wake up at 5am with the stomach flu and the bi-lingual subs. And from these subs legendary stories emerge. As the year trudges on the tales get taller and taller.

One of our bi-lingual teachers suddenly resigned & we’ve had an revolving door of subs, each one stranger than the last. Since I’m the librarian I see more than my fair share of them and have ample opportunity to observe their modus operandi.

“Game Boy Man” came complete with Sony hand held. Whenever he thought the kids were occupied out came his gizmo and his thumbs pounded and pushed till he was reminded that it was time to take the kids back to class. He had a habit of “stepping out for a minute”. His idea of a minute and mine differed by 1,800 seconds.

“Chronicle Woman” brings the newspaper and book to work. She brings the children to the library and then while I am teaching pulls out her paper and proceeds to read it. The paper snaps, crumbles and rustles and it is difficult to teach the children attentive listening when their teaching is demonstrating the total opposite. Her idea of teaching is reading while the kids do seat work. She is physically but not mentally present.

“Attitude Woman” showed up 2 hours late for the job this past week. The principal had already split the class up among the other grade level teachers so she was sent to the library to help us out. One thing about a library, we always have work that needs to be done.

My assistant pointed to the shelving and asked “have you ever shelved before?”

Yes”, she replied” but I don’t like to do it.” We don’t either but it’s part of the job.

“You can straighten shelves instead,” I offered. “

I don’t like to do that either” she retorted. “

Well, it’s for thirty minutes, then you have lunch duty”.

“I have a headache. This is not what I came to do today, I need to call the sub office and talk to Betsy (the person who assigns subs their jobs)”.

“We don’t have a phone in the library (boldface lie on my part) Go to the principals office and use her phone”

Five minutes later sub is heading out the door and I’m filling out an evaluation. She will not be back.

And then there was TMI Sub.

TMI sub arrived wearing a tight, low cut, spaghetti strap top and was promptly advised to put on the matching jacket. She as assigned to a 5th grade class, when most of the boys are double retaines and busting with hormones. She dropped the class off for lunch and vanished. Into thin air, she was nowhere to be found. Lunch is 30 minutes and after 45 minutes, one of the counselors brought the class to me and asked if I’d watch them while they scoured the building. An assembly was on the docket and the cafeteria had to be cleaned up and set up.

Fifteen minutes later the sub appears in the library. One of the kids asks her – in Spanish where she’s been. She says something and then next thing I know a boy is blurting out in a shocked voice “You got your period? “ He didn’t say it to attract attention or get a laugh, he was totally appalled. The girls all look mortified and embarrassed and my jaw hits the floor.

I turn to her “You don’t tell kids that!”

“Why? It’s perfectly natural, I started my period, didn’t have anything and had to go buy some tampons – see”.

Not only is it TMI time it is Show and Tell time.

At this point the Assistant Principal comes in to tell me they cannot find her anywhere. I tell him she’s reappeared and it might have been better if she hadn’t. He blushes and sends me off to the Principals office to share the story.

5 minutes later that sub is heading out the door too.

And we still have 30 days of school to look forward too!


MsAbcMom said...

Oh my goodness. Your sub stories beat any of mine. Those poor children! Poor staff members who have to put up with it. I know that you are all counting the last 30 days...

CyberCelt said...

I substitute teach for an alternative high school. I am not a teacher nor am I going to be. However, I do enjoy working with the students.

Substitutes get about 30 minutes of training, mostly about blood borne illnesses (film) and how to use the subfinder system.

We show up and are handed a substitute folder that contains information from last year. We are given lunch duty (sometimes twice), the before-school duty, the bus-circle duty, and are expected to work though our lunch hour.

We are also put in charge of 20-30 children we do not know during field trips, have to walk our kids to the cafeteria and library in a certain order and using certain hallways that are unknown to us.

No one shows us the bathroom or the teacher's lounge, where the coffee is, or how to find our classroom. When we finally locate our room, we find that there is no lesson plan, no seating chart, no instructions and a test to give.

Tarnished? Yes. Polish one of those subs off and you may find a real person beneath...

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

I really like people who let it all hang out like that.

Oh, I'm sorry-- I meant: I really like to beat senseless people who let it all hang out like that.

I was a sub for two years. I finally was told that the superintendent said I was more valuable as a sub than as a classroom teacher and did not want me hired full time because, and I quote, "Who else can sub in both orchestra and the IB English program?"


You have my sympathy.