This is one of three schools in the district that might be described as “being in the bad part of town”. Since tomorrow is Veterans Day, a school holiday, and this week I’ve only had two half day classes, I decided to tough it out and get in a full day, pay day this week. Maybe today will be an exception to the day I’m expecting.
The first page of the teacher’s lesson plan is a letter to “To: My Sub” that starts out with:
“I’ll be really honest with you…”
“…These kids are really a great group, but they can get to be a handful…”
Well, so much for the hoping for an exception to expectations.
The letter goes on to describe “Isolation Island” where six desks are butted up to and right in front of the teachers desk:
“…Kids at these desks are not allowed to work in groups. They are not allowed to talk to each other or anyone else in class and no one in class is allowed to talk to them. They can only talk when answering questions from you…”
Class starts at 08:05AM and I’m suddenly very, very tired at 07:45AM.
Instead of writing my real name on the board, I write “Mr. Homework”. It’s then that I hear some voices from outside:
“His name is HOMEWORK? Really? Let me see!”
Sure enough a few pairs of eyes are peeking in the window just under poster in the classroom window. The troops are advancing on my position and I can’t call in reinforcements. I’ve done all I can do for now. I’m ready for battle!
At 08:05AM, the enemy advances to surround my position, but I fire the first salvo.
“My name is Mr. Homework” and I relate the story of the FIVE HUNDRED WORD EXTRA HOMEWORK ESSAY! I have their unwavering, riveted attention. I tell them that only two classes have ever had to do the extra essay and only three have survived the day without any letters to “HOMEWORK” on the board. I tell them, I’d like to report to their teacher that this class made it #4 with not even the single letter ‘H’ on the board!
Not a sound or a peep during this introduction to MY CLASS.
At the end, a shy, slow hand is raised to poise a question. I take a second to survey the room. It’s still dead quite as I acknowledge the questioner who asks:
“What’s your wife’s name?”
I give her an evil grin as I respond:
The kids are smart enough to know I’m kidding, so I write my real name on the board and as we begin our day. To my surprise, for the rest of the day they work really hard and whenever the whiteboard board marker is tapped on the board, they all go dead silent.
During the last period silent reading time before dismissal, one girl came up to show me her library reading selection. To my surprise the title is "Thirteen Ways To Sink A Sub"
This can’t be what I think it is, can it? It HAS to be about submarines and naval tactics right? A quick look at the back cover synopsis reveals this book isn’t about any damn boats.
It’s about a substitute teacher on her first subbing day teaching in a 4th grade class. The kids decide to have a contest to see who can make her cry first.
Imagine! She’s reading an INSTRUCTION manual on how to make my day miserable. To say I was “surprised” to find this “humorous” story in an elementary school library is a bit of an understatement.
What’s next: “Tunneling and Excavation for Dummies” in the prison library?
Fortunately, these kids either hadn’t read the book or gave me a “pass” for today because I was able to end the day by telling them that they have made #4 on my list of great classes and I’ll be sure their teacher will know about it.
"Thirteen Ways To Sink A Sub"
“Hobie Hanson knows that the sounds coming from across the hall can mean only one thing: 4A has a substitute teacher. And she's sinking fast. Hobie's certain 4B will never be so lucky. Their regular fourth grade teacher, Mr. Star, is as healthy as a horse.
The very next day, though, Mr. Star rushes out of the room -- "indisposed," the principal says -- and Hobie and his classmates hear "s-u-b". They are prepared. No stranger could possibly withstand the volley from their vast arsenal of sub sinkers…”
Card catalog description:
The boys and girls in the fourth grade devise a contest to sink their substitute teacher by making her cry.