Jennifer Bressner discusses her adventures substitute teaching for high school comparing it to "Dangerous Minds," country style.
This past year I got my substitute teaching license. My degree is in Radiologic Technology, but with enough college credits and some additional hoops, I qualified for the job. I love kids, (even other peoples’ kids) so I thought this would be a fun way to make a little extra hay money for my critters.
My first job was subbing a half day in High School. From my own experience as a student, I knew that High Schoolers eat substitute teachers alive. I went into the classroom with shaky legs and tried to look stern. The teacher had left us a movie to watch and told me to keep them quiet and off their cell phones. That seems easy enough, right?
First of all, everyone in that classroom hated the movie we had to watch. I could immediately tell that half of the room would sit quietly and endure, and half would… not. Cell phones were out almost right away and they were chatty and complaining. It felt like I was on a road trip with 5 year olds. “Is the movie over yet? I’m bored. I’m tired. I’m hungry.” One kid kept whining over and over again about it. He was bigger than me. Teenagers are like children masquerading as adults. I suggested that he color one of the pictures the teacher had left for them. He hated to color. I told him he should write about it in his diary.
Next, I subbed for the little people. Pre-school and Kindergarten. What a difference. I got hugs all day and they told me I was pretty! We skipped together, they laughed at my jokes, they had fewer meltdowns than the high schoolers, and they were sweet. I loved reading to them and being silly with them.
After that ray of sunshine, it was back to High School. Names have been omitted to protect the innocent, but those kids had me coming home every night and collapsing into bed. It was like my first time subbing, but with no movie… and it was the last week of school. What was I thinking? Everyone was checked out and already on summer vacation. I must be a real glutton for punishment to have signed on for that. I whined to my husband with slight exaggeration that subbing in small town Missouri is exactly like the movie “Dangerous Minds” and made him listen to “Gangsters Paradise” by Coolio with me.
How do teachers do this stuff full time? You angels. You wonderful angels. I saw a snippet of your world and now I light a candle, say a prayer, and send good energy into the Universe for you. I’ll cover all my bases with some sort of rain dance as well. There should be reserved seating and a teacher discount at Hopper’s for you… that’s my official request. A nice chair painted like an apple and discounted apple martinis. Maybe one of you talented grant writers can get the chair. I hope you are all enjoying summer vacation. After my grueling eight days working for you, I know I am.