Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just a Moment, Mr. Substitute, I Have More Important Things to Do

I am a substitute teacher. As such, I expect a certain amount of trying to get away with nonsense. Some of the littlest things don’t matter to me and I let them slide. Seating charts, for instance.

Most of the time teachers have seating charts they are up-to-date and correct, but you always have some students try to sit with friends. Mostly, if they are silent during instructions, I let it go. It isn’t worth the fight. I put my energy into more important things and school rules.

Typically, no cell phones in class is a school rule. I warn the students I will take phones I see. I usually get a nice collection. The first couple periods in a new school or class have the most offenders. I average two confiscations a period. My record is four in five minutes. I give the phones back at the end of the period if they don’t make a fuss, and I don’t report the students. They usually give them up.

That kind of behavior is expected with any sub. I don’t allow it, but don’t hit too hard, either. Consequently, I have never had any real severe, dangerous actions while subbing.

Some things are just plain stupid. I question the intelligence of some students. I’m not even speaking of the students who get all the questions wrong or don’t use punctuation. I’m also not referring to the students who do nothing in class and lie about how they will do it at home. Some of those students may genuinely have issues.

No, I’m speaking of students who do things everyone knows should not be done.

The other day I taught in a science class of a first-year teacher. Between two classes I was in the hall, greeting students (as a good teacher will). About a minute before class started, I turned back and entered the classroom to check on the students inside (another good teacher tactic). A girl had entered the room, gone to the back of the room, plugged in a hair straightener, and proceeded to straighten her hair.

Of course I told her to knock it off. Her response was to tell me, “It’s already warmed up,” as if that explanation was enough and I should not question her. She seriously had the expression and tone of voice that indicated she felt she did nothing wrong. She clearly decided her job was to look good (good luck to her, she’ll need it) instead of getting an education. I suppose being smart is so over-rated. She seemed to think I was dumb for even suggesting she was wrong. Good thing she never said that, though.

I was surprised to have any student bring out a potentially dangerous fire-risk tool. I have seen lots of girls doing hair or make-up, but this was a new one.

Anyway, I then told her again to turn it off and sit down or go to the office. Clearly that girl has a couple brain cells since she stopped with only the subtlest huff of breath. At the end of class one of the students told me the class was actually better for me than the usual teacher. (I feel very sorry for the usual teacher.) This same student said several girls regularly use class time as beauty-shop time.

I have now met the next generation of welfare recipients.


Braden said...

and that is why I want to homeschool my children

Ker said...

Wow. Words fail me.

Lauren said...

A hair straightener in class?! Geez!