Tales from Substitute Land

I spent yesterday filling in for the librarian/computer teacher at Little Brother’s school.  Overall, it was a good day.  Only one child cried.

The really cute story I read with the first-graders

Here are some of the highlights:

The day began with a 20-minute stint in Morning Car Line, or as a friend of mine calls it, “Coddling Line.”  Somebody’s got to help the 3-year-olds climb out of the Hummers.  Seriously.  Those things are so high off the ground that a 3-year-old can see right under the car without bending over.  It was cold, but not raining, so that’s as good as it gets in January.

It’s an Eighth-Grade Privilege to lead the morning prayers over the PA system.  I’m guessing that yesterday’s prayer leader has been cramming for a science test, because I swear she began with the words, “O Jesus, through the Molecular Heart of Mary…”

My first class was one of the 4-year-old pre-kindergarten groups.  I was nervous, because they were going to spend the time in the computer room, and I’m not as Mac-friendly as the librarian.  Also, I’d never seen the program they were going to be using.  She did show me how to log in to the web-based activity, and that mini-lesson turned out to be a very useful thing.  One child somehow logged herself out of the program no fewer than five times in a 25-minute class period.  Each time, I had to enter a username and password and click through a few things to restart the activity.

When that group came up the stairs to the library and struggled out of their winter coats (the pre-K is in a small schoolhouse across the parking lot) the kids proudly showed me their name tags.  “Are those for me?” I asked them.  “That’s a really big help, because I never met you before!”  Then I told them my name, and the aide said, “They can just call you Mrs. S.”  Upon hearing that, one little girl repeated my name.  I turned to the aide and told her, “Kids usually get it just fine.”  Deal with it, lady.  I do.  Every day.  It’s not THAT hard.

One of the perks of teaching the 4-year-old class is the Reception Line.  As the kids lined up to leave the library, a whole bunch of them stopped to give me hugs.

Without fail, there were quite a few kids in each of the 6 classes I taught yesterday who were worried about the librarian.  How sweet is that?  I made sure to let them know that she was actually there in the building that day working on some technical stuff with the principal.

Some weirdnesses:  I had back-to-back first-grade classes, and while I was deep into reading a great story with the first group, the second class walked into the library 5 minutes early.  HUH?  Now I have to figure out what to do with 40 kids?  I made the teacher wait while I finished the story with the first bunch, then sent them back to their tables for their library books.  Then I guess she had a change of heart because she offered to deliver the other class back to their teacher.  She still wound up with a few free bonus minutes, and I’m guessing her colleague lost a few (not to mention MY moment of panic there.  Substitute Teacher’s motto:  never let ’em see you sweat.)

My first afternoon class came in noisily, followed by the music teacher whose class they’d just left.  Apparently they’d misbehaved in there, and he wanted to let me know that they stood ready to lose a privilege next week if they didn’t shape up and behave in the library.  But they were good.  It took a little to settle them down, but once they all had books in their hands, they were busy reading when the librarian walked in and heard nothing but pages turning.  “They’re so QUIET!”  (Substitute Teacher’s motto:  don’t put up with much.  A few well-directed glares work too.)

In the last class of the day, I had one child crying because of some misunderstanding the day before about a book to be reserved.  It took a little bit to get that worked out, especially since some other student had checked out the book in question earlier in the day.  Maybe it’s uncharitable to say this, but there are some kids whose tears just don’t affect me.  This kid is one of them.  I talked another one out of tattling, which is something that I just do not deal with.  That’s really difficult when I’ve got the second graders, who are tattling pros by now. (Substitute Teacher’s motto:  be immune to tears, tattling and puppy-dog eyes.)

All in all, though, it was a good day.

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