I Never Thought I Would be a Substitute Teacher

When you’re shifting gears in your career, perhaps moving from a part-time position to full-time, you may have to fill the gaps with some other work. I did that by becoming a substitute teacher. A substitute teacher?!

When I was a child in elementary school, I was frightened when our teachers were absent and someone else was there at the head of the classroom trying to teach us. One time, there was a man who waas covering our fourth grade for a few days. Many classmates acted like squirmy, noisy critters. By the end of the first morning, the door to our classroom was opened by the fifth grade teacher, who poked her head in and reminded us that our teacher would not be happy with us this day.

When Mrs. S returned, we hoped that the trouble with the sub would be erased. No, the fifth grade teacher came up to our line as we were on the way home for lunch, and asked, “Have you boys and girls told your teacher about the noise n your classroom when she was away?” No one said a word. Fourth grade teacher said, “We’ll discuss it after lunch.'”

Honestly, I no sooner walked into the house when I doubled over with pains in my tummy. My mother tried to urge me to tell her what was happening… she knew I was stressed, and did not have appendicitis. She also remembered that these teachers had, a generation before, been her teachers, and she was still a bit frightened of them. She put me to bed, gave me a glass of ginger ale to sip, and told me to try to take a nap.

I heard from my friends that our teacher had pulled out all the stops – tossing out terms like “disappointment,” “you should be ashamed,” “can’t I leave you for a day without bringing shame on this class?”

Years later, though, I thought I’d better do some substitute teaching to pay the rent. And it went very well. The worst part of subbing is that  you’ll have a class in which you develop a horrid headache, but at least  you can go home and sleep it off. There was no homework with subbing, and I became a preferred choice as I would take ANY class.

And when I moved to Maine for a year, I did some subbing as well. I was firm, stern, organized, and teachers actually asked for me by name. The difference – I was  not afraid. I needed the work, and I was, after all, a good teacher. It was a victory for me – overcoming another childhood fear!

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