I could have subbed the entire first week of the New Year had I had stamina for Kinders or middle school P.E. classes. Instead, I started the New Year with two days of 4th graders.
The most common question I get when kids enter the room for the first time is: “Where is Ms/Mr teacher?” This class was no exception
First girl through the door: “Where is Ms H?”
Me: I’ll answer that question when everyone gets settled, ok?
Earlier in my short career as a substitute teacher, I’d just tell them that I don’t know why their teacher had to be away for the day. Sometimes I DID know, but I didn’t feel that it was my job to give out any details that the teacher might or might not care to share with the students.
Lately, I’ve gotten a bit more creative, especially around this age group of kids (8-10).
Me: Your teacher is not here today because she is on an assignment.
Door girl: Assignment? What’s that?
Me: It is supposed to be a secret, but your teacher is a CIA agent and “teacher” is just her undercover job. She was sent out on an important mission for today and tomorrow!
Random Kid: What?
Me: It’s true! She’s a secret agent for the CIA. That stands for “Candy Interception Agency”. Her secret mission is to track down and stop the smuggling of illegal “blue lollipops” into the country. She had a tip that a giant box of them was coming this morning at the airport and had to go investigate.
At this point, they know (at least I hope so) that I was having a bit of fun but they seemed interested in the “yarn”.
Random Kid: But lollipops aren’t illegal! We have them lots of times.
Me: Ahhh. But were any of them BLUE?
The room went quiet and I could almost hear them thinking about colors. Ummm, green, yellow, red, orange …blue?
Confident Kid: But, I’ve had blue ones before!
Me: Really? What flavor was it?
NowNotSoConfident Kid: Ummmmm…
Me: See! Think about it. What flavor IS blue? Very few people have had a blue lollipop because they are illegal in the United States.
“While you think that over, let’s get to work. The first item on the lesson plan is a practice spelling test. Get a piece of binder paper and number it from 1-20 with your name at the top…”.
Now, the standard procedure for spelling tests in elementary school is for the teacher to:
1. Clearly pronounce the word
2. Use the word in a sentence
3. Repeat the word.
Of course all the sentences used for this spelling test were going to have to incorporate the phrase “blue lollipop” somehow. When I occasionally failed to come up with a sentence with “blue lollipop”, one or more of the kids suggested one for me.
…now that I think about it, what flavor IS blue?