Substitute Survival Mode

I was inspired by this post by a coworker to share in one of my latest experiences.

I have been out of the classroom numerous times this year - both for personal and professional reasons. Last week I was out of the room for a team-planning (eating) day - which means LOTS of substitute teachers in the building - 6 just for our grade - and whoever else is out for whatever reason.

My point? That there are times when your guest teacher will not be, um, the best.

Since I was still on property, I went in to check on my students while they were eating lunch.

Five of them had their heads down on the table, 4 of them with tears.

Apparently the day was not going according to plan - for them. They had recess taken away and a few traumatic interactions with the teacher.

We are a very diverse school community. Even with that experience, the students were struggling with communication with the guest teacher. And my plans... well, it seems as though he didn't understand a word of them. I had some great and fun things planned for the class, to keep them busy and keep them learning on a day when I could not be there with them.

In one of the richest counties in the world, and one of the largest and most well-known school districts - it seems odd to me that we do not have much of a training process for potential guest teachers. Job training is imperative for most jobs - why not teaching? Throwing someone into a room with 20 (0r more) kids seems like a perfect situation for job training. Kids are like dogs. They smell weakness and fear. Or monkeys. There are some days I think they might fling poo. At least my class does. There are some days, when I'm there, that I'm surprised that any of us make it out alive. They can leave the room in tears, with a hug, or muttering words under their breath. There's no telling, and it depends on a variety of factors. And, that's with ME.

And although I'm sure my guest teacher had the best of intentions and did the very best job he could - I was still surprised to see this note when I returned to my room: