Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Substitute" is not a dirty word

Among other things, I've been a substitute teacher for about 3 years. And I've always thought it was a pretty cool job. Most people think you're crazy to WANT to be a substitute: "Well, somebody's gotta do it!" they would say. Or: "You're a SUBSTITUTE?!" (and somehow, in their tone of voice, the word sounded so menial...and it's at this same time they would regal me with stories about the time they did this or that to the terrible sub they had in the 3rd, 4th, 5th grade), and they'd continue "But, you'd be such a good teacher. Why don't you become a REAL teacher?"

Hey, I like the freelance hours and I love being with the kids. Truth is, I feel like a real teacher. When I was a kid, I didn't remember beating on the sub (though i'm sure i did!). No, as a kid, I kept telling myself, "If I was a sustitute teacher, I would be so cool." So, when I finally got a subbing gig-- I was thrilled! It didn't matter that the calls came in at 6:30am for that days work. Could I be in midtown by 8am? Well, Sure! I took every job I was offered: I've been the drama teacher, the math teacher, the health and science teacher and the p.e. teacher, to name a few.

I've always been a pretty happy (read: pollyanna) substitute. I walk in with the best intentions and the coolest of attitudes. Sometimes, it's an awesome experience, life-changing for us all. Other times, yeah, I've been seriously beaten down.
The first time, it was 32 completely dysfunctional Kindergartners. The next time, it was a group of 8th grade girls. I actually called RK from the classroom that day and cried.

It's not a proven science. Gads, sometime it's not even a good idea. But, faced with the opportunity, I usually take it.

Two years ago, my sister K (who trained me in "playing school" from a very young age), gave me this book: On Subbing, The First Four Years.
It's one of the best reads I've ever delved into. It's really his day to day journal of a job that is often wack and yet, somehow, you can't walk away from it. When you win the kids over, it's addictive. I suggest, no matter what your current employment, pick this up and read it. If you teach, or you have kids, or if you want to have kids, or you have friends who are teachers and they talk about their students and all the crazy things they did that day....well, you'll find a way to relate.

Bonus Question, for 3 extra points: How cool is the website that this little book comes from? *

*Answer: very cool

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