Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Our comrades, the substitute teachers

So, I made some extra money substitute teaching yesterday. Sure I have a lovely full-time position at SLHS, but a Hobo Teacher's gotta' do what a Hobo Teacher's gotta' do.

Allow me to explain.

You see my "neighbor," Ms. Trimbley, was "sick" again today. Her substitute teacher showed up as usual, thirty minutes after first period had begun. However, I could tell this one (this day, this sub) would be a little "interesting." When a stray student passed him in the hallway and whispered "Good morning," to him, he just grunted and sneered at the kid.

Now, I realize as a substitute teacher you have to establish yourself. Common decency and politeness do not apply to you. You have to go in with the mindset of a drill sergeant or the kids will walk all over you and martial law has to be declared and the principal has to call in the National Guard and, occasionally, hostage situations arise from a substitute teacher who just did not "establish" themselves at the beginning of class. However, the kids don't care about this at all. The meaner a sub gets, the more comical it is to the students, and the more colorful the exchanges become.

Having said all of that, this sub was, well, just a little bit over the top. Ten minutes after he arrived, a handful of my poor babies in the corner were momentarily shaken from their slumber (we were reading "Rip Van Winkle" and I can only assume they were "inspired") by the sound of the door slamming at the classroom next door. I poked my head out to see what disaster had beset this poor substitute when much to my surprise I saw... him!

The substitute had his jacket and bag slung over his shoulder and was storming his way down the hallway, toward the stairs, screaming, "I don't have to take this! I don't have to take this! You deal with it, cowboy!" I stood in shock while his vehicle sprayed gravel and he sped out of the teacher parking lot.

So what happened? I had to find out. Was he assaulted? Did a student curse him and his family? Did someone ask him to grade papers? No. None of that. As it turns out he asked a student to remove her headphones and she rolled her eyes at him. And that was the last we ever saw of him.

Poor guy. He never stood a chance.

Surprisingly, the main office couldn't find anyone who wanted to come in for half a day, cover the classes, and get paid $30 while the kids shot spit balls and did their best to humiliate and degrade him/her. So, I was the lucky soul. I already do that with one set of students every day. Why not two?

I spent the rest of the day floating between classrooms and doing my best to hold down the forts. Sure, a principal could have covered the class, but they had some super important meetings to get away to. Besides, this way I got an extra thirty bucks.

Still, I can't help but admire the freedom that the substitute exhibits in these sorts of situations. What I wouldn't give to fly out of the parking lot in my car (if the transmission weren't shot) in a blaze of gravel and glory, never to be seen again, the next time a student quipped, "You don't know who my father is, do you?"

But, then I'd be out thirty bucks.

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