Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Substitute

I always loved the children's book, Miss Nelson Is Missing.  Miss Nelson's class is out of control and she decides to "go missing" and disguise herself as a strict substitute named "Miss Viola Swamp" who brings the children to realization that they had been taking Miss Nelson for granted. 

In September I will return to my teaching position but until the end of June I am substitute teaching.  My own school has graciously put me to work and has kept me busy since March when I went off my maternity leave.  I am fortunate as a 'sub' because I mostly substitute in my own school and  I have a good relationship with the students there. However, old habits never die.  No matter how much the students know you, every class always starts the bathroom escape.  One student asks to use the washroom, five minutes late another one asks, and next thing you know the whole class is filing out.  Of course it is my own fault because I never deny a student the bathroom even though I know they don't really have to go.  I can usually get it under control by not allowing more than one at a time to avoid parties in the bathroom.  Although I loved those bathroom parties when I was a kid. Subbing in the younger grades is like being a celebrity.  They draw you pictures, deliver notes of admiration, and rush you like a fan at rock concert all for a hug.  Occasionally I will have to mediate an argument between best friends or dry a few tears when groups can't see eye to eye. I have subbed in other schools and higher grades.  The higher grades can be a tough crowd.  It's best to go in knowing your Top 40 and a few sports icons.  It can be intimidating when that one student in the back of the class hollers, "Yeah! We have a sub!"  This is when you begin practicing your, "I can be dark and scary" speech and hope for the best.  I have learned not to allow too much "free time".  Things can start taking flight in the room if they have too much free time. It always starts with the boys fashioning aircraft out of paper or having an eraser war. Inevitably they always seem to finish their work at lightening speed and have free time.  I like to bring my Speed Stack cups and show the kids a clip on the computer of the fastest speed stacker (who happens to be ten years old and holds a record for six seconds.)   I can do it in twenty two seconds and hold competitions to take my "title". There are clever students out there that conveniently forget things like p encils, rulers, calculators, erasers, pens, or paper in their locker when it comes to starting an assignment.  I have learned through the subbing community to take a 'sub satchel' with all those necessary items just like Mary Poppins! Sometimes retrieving a pencil from a locker can take fifteen..twenty minutes.  Perhaps I should invent "The Substitute Pack". 

Thanks to all those that have taught me tips and tricks that make substitute teaching fun!

The Substitute Pack:


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