I’m a teacher

Yesterday I stayed home and worked on freelance writing. Because I didn’t get some returned phone calls, the day wasn’t as productive as I would have liked, but it wasn’t a total wash.

Today I went to a local middle school and taught seventh-grade science. Yes, my first day as a substitute was spent teaching the subject I was worst at in college. The assignment was to watch a video on the scientific method and write down 20 facts from the video. No sweat, for me or the kids. I had three hours of good honors students, though third hour was a bit rowdy before lunch. They settled down, though. Then there was an hour and a half for my lunch and planning period. Fifth hour was excellent. Ideal students. Couldn’t have asked for a better roomful of kids.

Sixth hour … Hell came calling in sixth hour. The teacher left me a note of warning about this class, naming several students as troublemakers. Students in the fifth hour warned me about sixth hour. But it was sooooo much worse than I ever would have imagined. How bad was it? Instead of writing a note telling the regular teacher who needed discipline, I left her a note listing the six kids who didn’t need discipline. And it was the first day in a new school for one of those kids. Wow. These kids wouldn’t take their assigned seat, lied to me about who was who, were popping sheets of paper, throwing paper, hitting each other, talking and yelling back and forth and just generally doing anything and everything to be a pain my my butt. When I was in seventh grade, the teacher would have been okay cutting a swath through that kind of class with a paddle.

It’s hard to regain any kind of control when you don’t know anybody’s name. I could have called the office for help … but that would have looked too much like defeat. I’m way too stubborn for that. Or … I was today. Next time, though, I won’t let the good kids suffer because of the bad ones.

Despite sixth hour, it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed being in the school. It was the same video every hour, but different kids, and I really do like the middle school/junior high age group. One student said I was the coolest sub ever as he left class. While that isn’t the goal, of course, it’s nice to hear.

I haven’t accepted an assignment for tomorrow yet, but on Thursday I’m going to a different junior high to teach reading. I loved my reading class in junior high. I was introduced to some of my favorite books in that class.

12 responses to “I’m a teacher”

  1. Steve, is your hair still long? How do you wear it when you’re teaching, and what outfit do you wear? Just wondering how the board of ed reacts to your rock god look.

    1. “Just wondering how the board of ed reacts to your rock god look.”
      I think my wife almost got sick laughing over that. haha Yes, my hair is still long; I keep it tied back at work. In fact, I’ve kept it tied back at work for the past three years or so. Having long hair may be a factor in why I didn’t get a teaching job during the summer. I don’t know. One principal knew the kids would like the hair and me being a horror writer, but the teacher I would have replaced ended up not leaving.
      Here in my local district, the dress code for subs is: “Make sure we can tell you apart from the students.” OKC requires “professonal dress.”

  2. Sounds like a fun time, with some spice.

    1. Oh man, that was too much spice! That was enough spice to choke a cajun.

  3. Have they outlawed corporal punishment in Okieland?

    1. Yeah, pretty much. It’s up to the district. I know of one district that still uses the paddle, but it’s such a small district that the town isn’t even incorporated. Those kids yesterday had no fear of real discipline.

  4. WELCOME TO MY WORLD… this is why I only did high school in public school. I hear you on not calling the office. I only did it about 4 times in 5 public school years – it did feel like they won if I had to ask for help.
    Now you know why I only sub in a private school now. 😎 I do younger grades there, though, because their classes are so much smaller and they’re all pre-medicated, so I don’t have to be. 😎

    1. “…they’re all pre-medicated, so I don’t have to be.”
      HAHAHA That’s … nice. I think. Personally, I think we need less Ritalin and more paddlin’. In second grade I had a teacher pull me from my desk by the ear and lay a paddle across my butt three times. That gets a kid’s attention. When they know you can’t touch them, and it’s obvious their parents haven’t introduced them to discipline, you’ve got nothing.

      1. I agree with that for public school. My private school is a bit different – they specialize in “learning differenced” kids – dyslexia, ADHD, clinically diagnosable disorders and the like. Unlike public schools where attitude isn’t dealt with and discipline IS a problem…
        Granted not all kids on Ritalin are ADHD (and conversely).

    I know where you’re coming from.
    There is nothing worse than coming into a classroom after the first day when protocol has been established. Subs and replacements (which I’ve been both) are completely disadvantaged when it comes to discipline.
    I once taught a college course in which one of the students wanted to beat me up — IN THE CLASS!!!
    Teachers are definitely not payed enough — doesn’t matter what anybody says.
    Glad you had a couple of good hours in your day!

    1. Wow. Wanted to beat you up in class, huh? At least in college they’re legally adults and you can let them throw the first punch, then kick their butts and file charges later.
      I get more junior high kids tomorrow, then high schoolers on Friday. Wish me luck!

      1. For me, I told the center for the football team that I wasn’t going to take his homework (it was 2 weeks late) so he walked up there and three inches away from me behind the podium, breathing down my neck.
        He said, “I’m going to ask you one more time. Will you take my paper.”
        And I, standing in front of the rest of the class, knowing in my heart that I was about to get the crap beat out of me, told him, “No.”
        We stood that way for what felt like a long, very awkward time, then he threw his assignment on the floor and stormed out of the classroom, slamming the door behind him.
        I picked up his assignment and tossed it in the trash.
        It was kinda weird transitioning from that back into “how to outline a paper” but, this is what we do.
        Good luck with your classes.
        By the way, do you have the website of employment listings for Oklahoma school teachers? I don’t have it here at work, but I do at the house if you’re interested. There may be some mid-year openings you could apply for.

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