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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Flood of Assignments...

Tomorrow is the start of last “work week” before the Thanksgiving break. Previous experience indicates this week to be a dead week substitute teaching wise.

It’s frowned upon by the school district to “extend” week-long breaks by calling in “sick” the Friday previous or the Monday following. Still, a few assignments do show up from time to time.

I was therefore surprised to see a total of thirteen open assignments for a single school starting the Friday before Thanksgiving break, extending through most of December and even a few the first week(s) of Jan/2014.

The assignments listed various different teachers at all grade levels so I don't believe this portends a mass group holiday exodus. The school must be doing some kind of school wide training for the entire staff over the next couple "holiday" months.

The only downer is that each assignment is for only a half day each, which also means half-day pay.

I took a single, pre-turkey Friday assignment and skipped the rest with fingers crossed to snag some better paying assignments for December/January.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Subbing Halloween...

I had a 5th grade assignment October 31 (Halloween). It was an easy if somewhat amped up, tiring kind of day. It helped that it was a minimum day and the kids were going home right after lunch.

I had already listed myself as "unavailable" in the sub system for the post-Halloween Friday, anticipating a quiet three-day weekend instead of enduring the chaos awaiting me if I braved any classroom.

I got back late from a Halloween party that night knowing I could sleep in and relax without dealing with dozens of kids recovering last night's sugar high. I was surprised by the late morning call.

L: "Hello? Mr. Perry? This is Lisa at xyz school.
Me: Hi, Lisa

L: Uhh, where are you?
Me: I'm here at home.
(...and knowing what comes next, I'm ready to decline the assignment request. I was up late. I'm still tired from the party. I'm still nice and warm in my jammies anticipating a relaxing afternoon off)

L: Are you on your way?
Me: (??) ..uh, no. I don't have an assignment I?

L: You are supposed to be here for Ms. L's class. Remember a few weeks ago when I asked you about it and you said yes?
Me: (visualize: dropped jaw and panicked memory recall...)
I totally forgot to log it in the calendar and I didn't check the sub system as I was planning to take today off!

L: Are you still coming in?
Me: Yea, but I need 30min if that's ok. I totally understand if you have someone else to get there sooner. I'm really sorry that I screwed up.
L: No, that's fine. We'll have someone covering until you get here.

Thirty minutes (...or less), I'm at the school office, offering repeated apologies for not showing up today. I'm sure I'm not the first that's totally flaked on an assignment, but it's the first time for me.

As I quick-step out the door and over to my class already in session, I'm greeted by my "sub for the sub".

It's the principal of the school!

Can you remember back when you were still in school and got called down to the principal's office for something you knew you were in trouble for? Yea, that's how I felt.

Offering repeated apologies, she was nice enough to let me off the hook with a "no problem, it happens" kind of response.

In my defense, it would have been handy if the SmartFindExpress system had flagged a warning that I was already listed for an assignment for the same day I was trying to make myself "unavailable".

Good enough for an excuse?.....No, I didn't think so either.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Beyond Folly...

There are tons of advice articles, how-to books, blogs, news stories (most of which involve arrest warrants) about substitute teaching. There are movies and books where the occupation of "substitute teacher" is a cover identity for a more glamorous and adventurous lifestyle. There are, however, very few books of fiction where the main character is "just a substitute teacher".

Emil DeAndreis's book "Beyond Folly" is a work of fiction about a budding poet making ends meets as a 3rd year substitute teacher in the San Francisco school district. I'm not sure how much of the work is fiction but I certainly recognize a lot of non-fictional situations as only someone experienced as a "real life" sub can attest .

Horton Hagardy has discovered that life as a professional poet does not cover both food and rent...sometimes neither. Meanwhile, waiting for fame and fortune as a poet to blossom, Horton resorts to working as a part time substitute teacher to pay the bills.

Horton is tested and re-tested while juggling to learn new skills dealing with sleep deprivation, classroom management, district office politics, coworker subs and "real" teachers.  

Fame and fortune does eventually end Horton's foray into the education system but not quite the way he planned.