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Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Most UN-Typical Day…

I’ve been laid up sick all this week so that’s why I’ve not been posting any personal subbing trauma. I thought I was getting better yesterday afternoon when I took an assignment for minimum day today. I had to cancel it later that afternoon when fits of coughing up pukey colored phlegm made the rebound.

This was the first time in four years I have had to call and cancel an assignment.

Last week I posted “A Typical Day” about how a typical subbing experience should go. I thought it might be interesting to do a very “un-typical day”. This day is derived from a compilation of all the “wrong” things that have happened over the last four years, compressed into one subbing assignment day.

1. Getting the assignment:

Because you weren’t sure if one district would keep you busy enough, you signed up to be a sub in three different districts. Smart thinking! But WHY do they always call at 05:30AM for a 08:00AM assignment? Why do I seem to be only getting calls from the same district? AND…Why is it the farthest commute (30mi) from my house?

We find out later in the school year that the district knows you are signed up for multiple districts and therefore they start calling earlier to make sure all THEIR assignments are filled before the other two get a chance to fill theirs.

2. Getting Ready:

Shower, shave, dress business causal and make sure I have some money to buy lunch.

Wait two more hrs till it’s time to leave for school.

3. Getting There:

I don’t need any maps I got the directions off the internet to get to today’s assignment. I arrive an hour early hoping that I can get in and set up with lots of time to spare before the kids arrive.

The school office is deserted and locked. It turns out that the secretary doesn’t get in for another 20 minutes, so I’m waiting in the car reading a book.

4. After Getting There:

The school secretary finally arrives and my hour lead time has been cut to 45minutes. I try to check in at J.F. Jones School and I’m told that they don’t have me listed for today. More checking and the mystery is solved.

I’m at the wrong school.

Elementary schools are usually named after some prominent politician or school functionary. This is how I end up at J.F. Jones School instead of K.R. Jones School. Who knew that Jones was such a common name and I don’t know the address of K.R. Jones School?

The secretary gives me a district map to K.R. Jones School. By the time I get there I’ve only got 15mins until the kids hit the door.

5. Get Data:

(I forget to check the teacher’s box for lesson plans and attendance sheet)

6. Locate Classroom:

I get the key and hoof it out to the farthest building from the office, to the classroom on the end.

Opening the door, I’m hit with (A: Blast of heat in height of summer or B: An icebox of a classroom in the dead of winter. Take your pick).

The Heating/Air system hasn’t worked for several months. The temperature controls are (A: stuck on or B: not working. Take your pick.)

There is no technician available today to fix it. Class starts in less than 10 minutes.

7. Locate Materials

I can’t locate the lesson plans or attendance sheet in the room. I remember that sometimes they are in the teacher’s box. Mad dash back to the office to find the box has only an attendance sheet.

I notify the secretary that I have no lesson plan and she calls the teacher at home: “I sent it via email to Ms. TeacherNextDoor to print out for him”

There is a sub in for Ms. TeacherNextDoor today so she didn’t get the email. The secretary promises a lesson plan shortly after the start of class.

8. Arrange Materials

Return to the classroom to find indignant teacher informing me that I had morning yard duty and because I didn’t show up for it, she had to cover the whole time for me.

Hurried explanations are all I have time for because half the kids lined up on the playground are already in class and I still have to find mine.

9. Board work

We’re finally in class and I attempt to write my name on the white board. I say attempt because all the “Dry Erase” markers are dry and unusable.

I rummage through the bins next to the overhead projector until I find a nice new black marker. I write my name and date on the board and turn around to questioning hand in the air.

Me: “Yes?”

Kid: “That’s the wrong kind of pen. You can’t erase that kind.”

Looking down, sure enough, it’s a black permanent Sharpie.

10. Attendance

Take attendance and stall for time until the lesson plans have been re-sent to the office secretary, printed and delivered.

“Time for Silent Reading (SSR)”

11. Teach

The plans finally arrive. It’s printed out in size 3 type size and barely readable. I notice that the morning duty has been crossed out, and the after school bus duty appended and written in red ink.

The kids are the worst in every way possible. A good third are on meds for ADD, ADHD, ADADAD and WAS. The others are just out of whack. One even has contagious “ringworm” and the school nurse won’t send him home.

By lunchtime, the room is a complete wreck and I seem to be missing four kids.

12. Lunch

I head for the teacher’s lounge for snack lunch of a candy bar and a diet cola.

To promote “Only Healthy Foods” on campus, the district mandated the removal of all vending machines. This includes the “Teachers Only Lounge”. No Diet Pepsi for me.

With my meager lunch money, I head for the school cafeteria to look over the bill of fare. I didn’t know that they could grow apples the size of golf balls, buy 3oz cartons of milk. Hot dogs, pizza slice or PB&J round out what defines a “Healthy Foods” lunch. Imagine, all that for only twice the price of what the kids pay.

It seems that the “kid’s lunch” is government subsidized while food for adults is not. I’m hungry, but not enough to fork over $4 for minuscule, disgusting food.

I resolve to have lunch “after school”.

13. Afternoon

I luck out. As indicated on the plan, today is one kid’s birthday and his Mom has dropped off cup cakes and juice boxes for all the kids plus a few extra. The four kids I lost earlier have made it back in time for “birthday food”.

There is even enough for the “Substitute Teacher” to hold him over till I can hit the “Healthy Food” McDonalds on the way home.

Today, I learn a valuable lesson. Delay all class parties involving food until recess or after school so ants won’t be attracted by the smeared, “healthy food” cupcake topping, ground into the classroom carpet.

14. Cleanup and Leave Report

The final bell rings and kids race out. I’m exhausted but my day isn’t over yet. Remember? I have “bus duty” that stretches my work day another ½ hour.

I leave a written report for the teacher to let her know how your day went. It was all bad.

I don’t feel like cleaning up the room. I make a half hearted attempt to erase my name in permanent marker from the board. Doesn’t work.

15. Exit the Building

Return the classroom key to the office, sign out, go home and notify the district that I don’t want to sub in their district anymore.

…There will be no next day!


The Vegas Art Guy said...

I learned early to bring my own dry erase markers, just in case the ones the teacher leaves for me don't work or there aren't any to use at all. I also pack some band aids pencils that I sell for 25¢ each, some Tylenol for me and a couple of instant lessons, just in case.

ms-teacher said...

In case you don't know this, if you write over the permanent market with dry erase marker, it will usually come off. Of course, this plan doesn't help if you don't have any dry erase markers that are usable :)

Teacher X Tells all said...

This post is hilarious! I hope that lots of teachers read it.

I've always had sympathy for substitutes and go out of my way to make things easy for them. I even leave bottled water out with a Post-it that reads "Water for Sub".

You have my sympathy. Being a teacher is a tough job, but being a substitute is even more difficult.

I hope that you get some easy assignments in the future. I also hope that the teachers who have mistreated you are forced to cover the classes of their worst co-workers.

Feel better!

Daisy said...

I plan to bring my own lunch because I could never deal with school food. It grosses me out. Also - note to self: Add dry erase markers to my survival bag... thank you!

Hopefully better assignments are forthcoming!! :)

Emily said...

I'm new to substitute teaching, and since I just had my first assignment last week, I definitely laughed out loud several times while reading this. Especially about the blast of heat hitting you on your way into the classroom. I was literally broiling last week. It sure didn't make for a very cool-headed teaching experience.