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Friday, September 18, 2009


Today I took a bold step into the unknown. I subbed a half day, pre-algebra class in middle school.

Up to now, I have limited my subbing experience exclusively to the lower grades (k-6th). Seeing how 6th graders act at the end of the school year, I could just imagine how bad they’d be as 7th and 8th graders. This year I toyed with the idea of just trying out to see how different it might be to sub in the upper grades.

This assignment was perfect for getting a taste of what subbing was like at this level. A half day assignment in the afternoon that included a prep-period had me exposed to only two sections of pre-Algebra class.

Since I hadn’t been at this school before, I arrived early, checked in and went out to my classroom already in progress. The knock at the door was answered by a face that displayed the expressions of surprise, incomprehension, confusion and a blurted “What are YOU doing here”?

With that comment the rest of the class turned to see who the kid, that I know as a “troubled leader” since the 3rd grade, was talking about.

About half of the class recognized me and greeted me with “Hi! Mr. Homework!!” while the other half suddenly seemed very curious and perplexed about this stranger with the odd name.

Now that I had unintentionally interrupted the class, I signaled that they should pay attention and get back to work. After they had been given a math quiz to start, the teacher came over to go over the lesson plan for the day.

“I guess a lot of these kids already know you Mr. Homer?” She said in greeting. I introduced myself as Mr. P while correcting and explaining the misheard nickname.

While the class quietly worked, she went over the lesson plan and answered the few questions I had about how to do the roll since I didn’t have access to the online roll system the teachers use. At the end of the period, she and the class exited the room and I waited for my first introduction to a middle school class.

Both classes were clones of each other.

The first few kids arriving early expecting to see their regular teacher instead saw a “Blast from the Past” as Mr. Homework was standing at the front of the classroom. A few even did double takes before a smile of recognition appeared.

I knew about half of the kids in each period and of course the other half wanted to know what the deal was. Even though I had written my real name on the board, “my” kids kept referring to me as Mr. Homework. A few of the new kids asked about the name but time constraints didn’t allow the telling of the full story. I replied that they should ask one of “my kids” to tell the story after school and left it at that. Both periods ended really well. I had no problems and the kids didn’t act up at all.

I think I like middle school…so far.


Mrs. Johnson said...

I am glad you had a good day! It sounds like your other day wasn't so impressive. If they are sixth graders now and that was back in 2005, were they in 3rd grade? I have had great experiences in 6th grade and days that weren't the most enjoyable.

KauaiMark said...

They are 7th graders now.

The MAN Fan Club said...

That's pretty cool. I only subbed at the elementary level. Good luck.

Liz A. said...

Yep, recognition will make middle school that much easier for you. And if you can handle middle school, high school is a breeze.

Welcome to the upper grades!

Anonymous said...

I actually find that sometimes middle school is easy and the kids are a mix of easy and difficult. For some the hormones really do cause a huge difference in behavior, for others they still remain much like elementary students, or others who suddenly seem so grown up. I like this age but as a sub it can be difficult. Some kids need the follow-up of a parent call, or even a parent visit to discuss behavior and as a sub we don't get those options.