Sunday, September 18, 2016

Substitute teaching, bored kids, and a nervous disposition

I was recently transported back in time by finding some old notes I made during a brief stint as a substitute teacher 15 years ago. Once I had given a class its task, I stood at the podium and pretended to write important teachery things, when in fact I was just capturing, for my entertainment, the flavor of the room.

I was not what they call, in teaching circles, a "natural."

Since it is back-to-school season, I thought I'd share some of these anecdotes with you. I only taught high school. My first morning of subbing ever, I was apparently not that stoked. I wrote: "Kids are flowing toward the school entrance like dirt down a drain." And this:

"Oh. The nervous sweaty butt. This morning I had the nervous sweaty butt in spades. My father always complained of sweaty hands when he got nervous. Me, my butt sweats. Sweats right through pants. I wonder for a moment if I can manage to teach three classes today, for four and a half hours, without ever turning my back on the students."

"It's dark so that the overhead projection can be seen better, and it seems like a cave. A cave full of unruly and disinterested bears."

"I make my 40 copies and head back to the classroom. I wonder if there is a way I can rub my butt to test for soak-through without calling attention to myself."

"They break into 'motif groups' to answer five questions, one of which is 'What is the function of the mule in Chapter Six?'"

"I collect whatever they have deigned to write a little before the period ends. Groups of them gather at the door like parole is finally coming after 10 years."

"These kids were born around 1987. Perhaps their mothers were pregnant during 'Hands Across America.' These are Cyndi Lauper babies, born during the Great Reagan, back when September 11th was still just a lot of kids' birthdays."

"I must seem like an idiot to these kids. I wonder if they are looking at my butt."

"I feel woozy, like I have lost blood, like I have had hundreds of little bites taken out of me."

"Five minutes before class ends, the 'VROOP' of the fire alarm goes off. I dismiss the class early by saying, 'Go check if there's a fire.'"

Taxpayers may rest easy knowing I did not make teaching my career.

. . .

So tell me...what makes YOU nervous? And where do you sweat when it does? Leave a comment below.

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