In the five years I’ve been subbing, I had no idea what she looked like.
“Oh! Hi there Ms. E! Are you working this week?”
This was from one of the teachers in the teachers’ lounge the last week of school. I was eating my lunch at the time and when I heard her name, I had to turn around to see who she was. Ms. E is one of the very few subs I hear talked about (favorably) at the schools I work.
Overheard in the office:
“See if you can get a hold on Ms. E if she’s available…”
“We need someone reliable for Ms. X’s class. See if we can get Ms. E”
“Ms. E and Mr. Homework are already booked, who else can we get?”
I picked up my sandwich and went over to introduce myself.
Me: “I just wanted to come over and introduce myself since I’ve heard so much about you from the teachers here. The kids here call me Mr. Homework but my real name is Mr. P.”
Ms. E: “So YOU’RE the Mr. Homework all the kids talk about. It’s finally nice to put a face to the name.”
It turns out that we started subbing about the same time five years ago. We traveled the same school circuit but never seemed to cross paths until today. Comparing notes, we both realized that neither of us could recall the names of any subs in this district except each other.
In the five years I’ve been doing this, I can recall the names of only two substitute teachers in the schools I work. One of those is a guy I’ve never met face to face. We only communicate via email. After finding my blog, he figured out from clues that we work the same schools. He quit the first year.
The other is Ms. E.
That is one aspect of substitute teaching that is different from any other profession, at least from my personal experience. You do not easily get to know others in the same profession. The infrequency of contact doesn’t sustain familiarity.
Other than the initial meeting at the start of the year where the newly minted subs and retreads like me get the mandatory job safety and rules of conduct training, there are no “meet and greet” type events where you can easily get to know your fellow subs. There are no “Sub Club” after school hangouts where you can down a few Diet Pepsi’s and swap war stories.
Unlike some work friends from some of my previous professions:
I’m still in touch with a guy, currently in real estate, that I knew from our pre-teenage days as paperboys.
My once a week racquetball partner is a guy I worked with over 30+ yrs ago on a private software project.
A twice a month “anyone up for lunch” friend is a guy I worked with for three years at a defense contractor company some 20+ years ago
A friend I don’t’ see enough of is a guy I met at my very first job at Fairchild Corp just out of college in 1970. That was in the days before Intel and Microsoft were invented.
…On the other hand, local anonymity sometimes has its advantages as the author of an online blog.