Wednesday, August 25, 2004

"You're the Man, Ms. White!" : Substitute Teaching Memories

All of my memories about subs from my own school days include two types of subs. There were the mean ones who never managed to keep anything under control. They’d spend the whole class period sending kids to the principal’s office and screaming “I am going to leave a very bad note for your teacher!” while we threw paper airplanes and said rude things and generally acted like assholes. Then there were the crazy hippyish subs. We sort of made fun of them too, but more quietly and we’d often end up doing some actual class work in-between listening to them tell weird stories that no real teacher would ever tell. I liked those subs. They collectively had a long-term impact on my way of viewing the world -- a good one."--Desert Agave

True for me, and then I got to be one of those good subs for a while at my alma mater. I miss it sometimes. It was one of the first jobs I'd had where people seemed happy to be there in the morning, where I saw that what I did on a moment-to-moment basis, even if I were just around for a day. As it happened, I subbed almost every day for about two years, because the teachers and kids both liked and respected me--no mean feat in any situation.

I liked subbing more than I figured I'd like most classroom teaching situations. I also saw, first hand, that even the smartest kids weren't always well-served in the average educational setup. I remembered how both bored and unhelped I often was in school, and how good it always was to be given the time, reign and guidance to do my own work--research, writing, thinking. (Appropriately, I went on to Hampshire, where I did indeed enjoy such.) So many things get in the way of learning.

And yet, I still miss teaching.