The other day I showed up for a half day subbing job at my kids’ school. While I hadn’t subbed for that class yet, I had done a bit of subbing in that grade, and some of the kids know me from PTA and other stuff. I walked in the back of the class right before they went to lunch. The kids, who were already pretty hyper because they had just been to an assembly, saw me and said, “Hooray!” and “I know YOU”, and “It’s Mrs. Erickson” all at once. Two of the kids I knew from primary (one is John’s friend), and some of them I recognized. Wow! I felt kind of like a celebrity. The teacher, who is actually brand new at that school, and who was probably really looking forward to her afternoon training meeting away from the kids, said, “I’m glad you have a sub you like, now make sure you behave!” After the kids came back from lunch, I explained my expectations, my rewards, and all that stuff, and we went on to have a nice afternoon together. Really. No problems at all. I would sub for them again, no problem. Besides, it’s not often that kids cheer when you show up, right? Little boost to my self-esteem.
Contrast that with the next day, when I was subbing at the jr high in Health/PE. Now, the ONLY reason I took that job was because it mentioned in the notes that she had a student teacher who would be doing most of the teaching, and I would be there to help and support her. Because teaching 8th grade health? Ick. So, when I got there, I looked around for a student teacher, and not seeing one, started to panic JUST a little bit, until I saw that her computer and coat were already there at the desk. I waited until she came in, introduced myself, and asked her if she wanted me to do anything to help her. “I’m good,” she said, and so I set up camp at the table in the corner of the room. She started on her lesson about communication in relationships, did a little activity with relation-SHIPS they had drawn the last class, and then started in on the topic of the day…unhealthy relationships. I was SO THANKFUL that wasn’t MY lesson that I would have to be giving! I’d almost rather have a root canal (which I did, last week, actually) than teach THAT lesson three times in a row with no preparation.
She did a GREAT job. She had a power point presentation, a powerful but short video clip about a girl who was in an abusive relationship and how it nearly destroyed her before her parents helped her break up with him and turn him in to the police, and real information about the different kinds of abuse, the warning signs, and how NO ONE deserves to be in an abusive relationship. She did SUCH a great job with this heavy material, and I told her so. But when the first class was over, I asked her if there was ANYTHING I could do to help her out, because I wasn’t real thrilled about sitting through this two more times. It was too distracting to really ready my book, but I was stuck there. So, she gave me a stack of papers that I could grade. Gladly! I ended up grading four classes worth of these papers, which gave me something to do, at least. She was VERY appreciative that I had done that, because, really, it was a couple of hours worth of work that now she doesn’t have to do over the weekend, and it gave me something to do. I did still get a few chapters read in my book, but honestly, who can read with a discussion of abusive relationships going on?
This young teacher did a great job. Except for ONE tiny annoying thing. After every two or three sentences, she would throw in a “K?” Like, “I’m going to tell you a true story that illustrates this point, k?” “These are the six types of abuse I want you to remember, k?” Ugh! After a while, it really started to get on my nerves. I wonder if her mentor teacher has mentioned this to her? I hope so. I wanted to say something, but that’s not really my place, and I didn’t want to sound rude or condescending, so I didn’t mention it to her.
After three classes of health, I had lunch and then went to the gym for PE. It was actually a relief to be teaching PE. Something where I could get up and move around, not just sit in the back of the classroom being bored and listening to the same presentation over and over. Once I called role and made note of who was dressed and participating and who was not, I assigned them their courts and let them play volleyball for an hour. Much more fun than talking about abuse.