Substitute writing

I was just thumbing through the ol’ Moleskin notebook and found this. I thought I’d throw it on here – substitute teaching always sucked, and this is something I wrote at school one day. It’s very “woe is me,” but when has that been anything different from anything else I’ve posted.

I’ll do this more and more frequently as I find decent stuff I have written in the past. It’s under a new category and everything.


Why should they bother to even begin to listen?

They already know by this time that I, their substitute, is here to watch them, to make sure nobody dies, catches on fire, or eats in the room. All they need is a babysitter. So I sit, trapped behind a desk, holding on for my own sanity – rushed by the noise of 25 teenagers vying for the top spot of the person who breaks the visitor. Given an assignment that could no way fill a 50 minute period, the students slowly raise and turn into a mob of chattering pigeons, bubbling in their seats and gradually filling the room with an uneasy chaos.

Still, I can’t do much of anything, too fearful of that line between tyrant and teacher. Too spineless to stop what, in all actuality, is non-harmful talking, realizing that they would otherwise be sitting quietly — but would be just as unproductive — if I was to lay the law down, breaking out a ruler and smashing knuckles.

The question raises itself: how do I build respect? Why bother? They already stare at me with contempt when I stand in front of the room. They have already placed themselves into a free-for-all mode when they saw me at the desk. I find myself too thin-skinned, struggling to hold control, knowing there is no sense in trying to get any teaching across when all resources have been used getting them in their seats, opening their books, and shutting their mouths.

It has been this way since my first solitary teaching experience. With no one else to back me up, I have floundered, left to exact discipline on students who won’t listen in the first place. I give up to easily, counting the minutes until the next period, or until lunch, or until I can go home.

This was lovingly handwritten on June 8th, 2005