My work as a substitute teacher is invaluable for the experience I am gaining. Of course it is bittersweet. I don’t own the territory and don’t know the kids. I am at the mercy of the teacher’s classroom management for good or ill. I am teaching the lessons by the seat of my pants as there is never enough time to prepare. There are many opportunities for the students to tell you that Mrs. so and so doesn’t do it that way. My all time favorite is when the kids walk in and see that they have a substitute. The look on their faces are comical. It is akin to a child finding out that their parent has abandoned them. I guess that isn’t comical, but they are concerned. Where is Mrs. So and So? When is she coming back? Why isn’t she here? Usually I win them over and some end up writing me notes that say, “Your [sic] the best teacher ever!”
There is a great deal of sweet to soothe the bitter. I get to try out some of the instructional strategies I am learning in my teacher education degree program. Each experience confirms my desire to teach. I see the tremendous job teachers have in educating these little ones. I also get a bird’s eye view into the dynamics and culture of schools. Time plays a big role. It is scarce so efficiency is key.
Recently, one particularly challenging class brought me to tears. Thankfully a veteran teacher was next door to assist. I felt sorry for those kids. I had been in their class for two and a half days and witnessed the teacher’s classroom management. She basically screamed at them constantly. The room was like a cluttered closet. Stacks of worksheets, unfinished projects, and random supplies covered every surface. It wasn’t a class where a lot of learning took place. The teacher was stressed out and she shared her personal stories of stress due to school and home life with me one morning as she prepared the lesson plans. I realized that this was one of the teachers who needed to find another line of work. I wondered how she has passed her evaluations? I sub at this school quite a bit and there are a lot of screamers there.
On the whole my experiences have been positive. Next semester, I will begin my first student teaching experience.