“Thank you for Subistuting”

Monday, November 5, 2012

I received my first thank you note as a “subistute,” (or substitute if you want to be picky) from a fourth grader, and despite her grammar and spelling missteps, giving me brown eyes, and assuming I’m married, she provided a much-needed affirmation that my substitute teaching is not for naught.

My knowledge about group mentality, the current state of the school system, discipline, and effective teaching methods grows exponentially every time I step foot into one of the school for which I substitute. I’d forgotten the fun of kindergarten, the heartbreak of 7th grade, and the boredom of sophomore year. I’d forgotten that substitutes often equal busy work. I’ve also learned some things about myself, most importantly that being the mean sub isn’t as scary as I thought it was and sometimes it’s absolutely necessary. So, here’s a list of a few things I’ve learned these past few weeks:

1) A class’s energy changes dramatically based on the addition or subtraction of any number of elements including: lunch, markers, recess, vocabulary worksheets, and a single student.

2) Seating plans are legit. And important.

3) There will always be at least one kid who defends you.

4) There will always be at least one kid who refuses to learn your name and will refer to you until the end of time as “Substitute.” *Note: Kindergarteners refer to substitutes as “Teacher,” which is incredibly endearing and acceptable.

5) Just because they’re afraid of a bad report doesn’t mean they’ll change their behavior.

6) Students really must be taught how to peer tutor—to show instead of tell and to teach someone to solve the problem when the tutor isn’t around.

7) Kids really want to talk about their lives, what they’re reading, and who they’re playing in football later that day. Someone just needs to listen.

8) Not all kids believe that substitutes actually care if they learn anything that day. Letting them know that I’m one who does can sometimes flip the day upside down.


One thought on ““Thank you for Subistuting”

  1. Dear Ruth, Oh how I love your posts! They are so informative and help one to see what students are thinking. You bring a lot of understanding to light. It must be an awakening to think back on your own school years and try to understand where they are coming from. To think a student was moved enough by your presence to write you a thank you note , even for anything this day and age, is remarkable. I know you give substituting your best shot as in all you do. Sounds like you are enjoying the challenge. Keep up the good work. Take care. Forget politics for two more days and watch DWTS! Love, Lolo

    Sent from my iPad

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