“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”
- Fitzhugh Dodson
The good thing about the substitute gatekeeper is that she calls later in the evening than the “real” gatekeeper. The regular one called until 7:00 pm. This meant any teacher who called in sick after that time wouldn’t get a substitute until the next morning (5:30 am). Later night calls = more sleep in the morning. So, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, the calls came in around 8:00 pm. Unfortunately, it also means I’ve worked (too much) everyday so far this week. Since I was on vacation and won’t get paid for last week, this is good. (It’s terrible.)
Monday = French (5th-8th grades)
Tuesday = Kindergarten
Wednesday = Spanish (9th-12th grades)
Thursday = Science (7th-8th grades)
If I receive a call for Friday, I’ll cry. As I said on Facebook, these erratic assignments are giving me whiplash. (Friend me, if you’d like. Theresa Brown Milstein.)
I hadn’t worked at the high school for a few weeks, so I looked forward to spending the day in Community R. You know how many of my sub job posts begin with mornings that are difficult and days that get better? This was one of those days.
When I arrived at the office, the secretary handed me the schedule and attendance with the so-called plans for Spanish scribbled on the front by said secretary. Drum roll please:
Have students complete packet.
Finish movie. May already be done.
What movie? What packet? What if someone forgot them? Are there more copies? What if they complete the packet? Any alternatives? Anything else I should know?
When I reached the classroom, there was a TV/DVR combo, along with a DVD on Central America sitting on the cart. At least that was taken care of. Soon, the students filed in.
I told them to work on the packet. “We completed that.”
I mentioned the movie. “We saw that.”
I found a movie on Mexico. “We saw that too.”
Gulp. After searching the room for something, I ran to the office and found a useless (because there’s NO WORK in it) sub folder in the mailbox and grabbed the DVD inside.
Holding up, “Il Postino”, I asked, “Have you seen this?”
Groan. “I’ll be right back.”
I dashed back to the office. Mind you, I’ve left a roomful of students unsupervised, praying they wouldn’t steal my money out of my wallet or download porn onto my laptop. I was fairly certain they didn’t seem the type to do either. Then I explained my “situation” to the secretary. She tried the teacher. He didn’t answer. (What are the odds?)
I admitted, “I have Spanish handouts but they’re too easy for high school. At this point, I’m not sure what to do with them.”
“I’ll find something for you.”
Then I left the office dismayed because I’ve NEVER, in over a year of subbing, EVER had NOTHING. The school is huge, so it’s not like the library is right there for me to grab another movie. The DVDs at home weren’t appropriate for an older Spanish class. (Dora the Explorer?) And how could I possibly know what they were learning. There are classes where I can come up with impromptu lessons. High School Spanish is not one of them.
I returned to the room and tell the students, “Nothing new was left. I’m waiting for the office to bring something.”
One student said, “Just put ‘Central America’ on. We can watch it again.”
“Okay, when the secretary comes in, we’ll do something else.”
They sat and watched the DVD for at least twenty minutes until the secretary came in with “Selena” and some film I’d never head of. I told the students their choices. “We’ve seen ‘Selena’ so many times!” one student wailed. With little choice, I put in the other DVD, which wound up being like a Spanish soap opera. The students watched the film, occasionally making fun of it. They were so good even though I was unprepared and left the room. They didn’t even touch my wallet or computer. Sniff.
Second period was at the Freshman Academy/Ninth-Grade High School. Armed with my pile of DVDs, I headed over. Those students had finished the packet, but hadn’t seen “Central America”. Easy class. While they watched, I edited. You’d have to ask my beta reader, Aubrie if the chapters* I forwarded were coherent.
A Math teacher at the school asked me when the Spanish teacher was returning. I asked how long the Spanish teacher had been out. It turns out he’d gone on a trip to Central America two days before break and hadn’t returned. “Must’ve gotten sick,” the Math teacher mused. All I knew was that it explained why the students had completed the packet and had watched an inordinate number of DVDs.
Last period, the students had previously done all the work and seen all the movies but the Spanish Soap Opera film. Halfway through, I let them slack because the movie really was BAD. A couple of girls drew and colored, while the boys played basketball with a garbage can and crumpled paper. Oh yeah, I’m gonna get that “Sub of the Year” award any day now.
These students attend each class for an-hour-and twenty-minutes. If the teacher misses this many days with inadequate work, it adversely affects their education. I’m sure they’re happy to slack, but I’m incensed on their behalf. And tired. I need a break.