“Oh when the trumpet sounds the call
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in”
- Song “When the Saints Go Marching In”
This morning, I got a two-school Instrumental Music job. The first, where I’d subbed Spanish* a while ago, and the second, at a school a block away from my house that I’ve only subbed at for Special Start last spring.
The reason I’ve never subbed there is because it’s an eight-hour school. The reason it’s an eight-hour school is because it’s a failing school. The reason it’s a failing school is that it’s next to “The Projects”.
I arrived at the first school ten minutes before the first bell, and - believe me - I needed that time. Yes, I needed all twenty-five minutes to figure out what was going on. There was nobody in the office to ask, so I wandered over to the cafeteria and the family liaison’s office, but I couldn’t find anyone. Mailbox empty. Then I went to the music room and found a teacher, who thought I’d be showing a movie, but where the movie was located and what the schedule was, she didn’t know. At least she knew I’d be teaching in the auditorium.
The assistant principal arrived, checked for a sub folder, but couldn’t find one. Then he located another music teacher in the hallway. That music teacher brought me to the music room, rifled through a desk to find a sub folder. None there either, but he handed me three movies (Madagascar, Shrek 2, and Bee Movie). He was kind enough to help me wheel the TV/DVD player cart into the auditorium and set it up.
Added bonus – he had a British accent, so if was going to be told:
(twice) that the 2nd period sixth-grade class would be a horror,
that there was only one outlet in the hallway,
that the remote control didn’t work,
that there was no schedule available,
and that I wasn’t allowed to take the movies to the second school,
hearing it in a British accent made it more palatable.
Being without a schedule wouldn’t do, so I returned to the office and asked for one. I’d have three middle school groups, a break for traveling and lunch, and then three more middle school groups at the other school. Foreboding…
You’re probably thinking that showing movies all day (or at least, at the first school) is a piece of cake. If we lived in a world where every class loved their subs and saw movies as opportunity to relax instead of eating said subs alive, I would love movies too. And sometimes, it works that way, and I type away. But I don’t know what to expect at the start of each class, and having to worry about it SIX TIMES is not my favorite way to spend the day.
Second period began and one sixth-grader came in loudly, cracking bad jokes, and hurling insults. Some quaint examples:
“Going to get a facelift and a nose job?”
“You’re a faggot.”
“She needs liposuction.”
I told him that he wasn’t allowed on stage. He ignored the rule and tried to touch my laptop. NOBODY TOUCHES MY LAPTOP. I snapped it closed, surprising him, but, unfortunately, missing his fingers.
When it was time to play the movie, I told him he had to stop seeking attention.
He replied, “I’m not seeking attention. I’m providing comedic relief.”
“Oh, is that what you think it is,” I replied.
After the next insult, I sat next to him and whispered, “This isn’t a bad class. It’s you. Say another insult and you’re in the office for the rest of class.”
He was insult-free and stayed in his seat after that. I guess he didn’t want to miss “Shrek 2”.
Things were going well for a time, until the boys started trash talking about each other’s mothers. So I stayed in the audience to keep ‘em civil.
The problem boy heckled the screen a couple of times:
“He looks likes he’s on ecstasy.”
“He’s acting like he’s on crack.”
His mommy must be so proud.
At the second school, nothing had been left for me, so I retrieved a TV/DVD player from the library. The office told to report to room 314. It was the wrong room. When I located the right room, I had the students play their trumpets and trombones for fifteen minutes. The DVD a helpful music teacher found for me was about a very old guy who played the slowest jazz violin I’d ever heard. If these fifth-grade students weren’t nice, it would’ve been a nightmare.
There was some confusion about where my next room was located. When it was figured out, the door was locked so another teacher called a custodian. The custodian took ten minutes to arrive. (Why yes, I did stand with all of the students in the hallway). Finally, we filed into the room and the students played trumpets for fifteen minutes. We spent the rest of the time sitting around a table listening to and singing Michael Jackson. Well, I didn’t sing.
Not sure where to go next, I asked the Science teacher who had retuned to his room. He said I’d be there for the next class as well. (Whew.) The last group’s instrument was the xylophone. All three classes played “America the Beautiful” and “When the Saints Go Marching In”, but it sounded better on the xylophone than on the horns.
The day ended - I survived.
On the way out, the helpful music teacher asked, “He’s out tomorrow too. Are you subbing again?”
I replied, “I don’t know yet.”
But I wanted to say, “I hope not.”
* Spanish fun: