A Day in the Life

…of a freshly minted substitute teacher.

4:45 It is entirely too early. Maybe it’s my nerves or maybe it’s excitement, but I certainly do not need to be awake yet. Today is my first day as a substitute teacher. For the last 6 years I’ve had my own classroom with my own students, my own rules, my own organization system, but today I step into someone else’s classroom with someone else’s students, rules, and organizational methods. Don’t think of what may go wrong today, I tell myself, but instead focus on what I can do well and, of course, the paycheck I’ll be getting.

6:17 I set my GPS for the neighborhood the school is in and hope for no traffic. It’s my second day ever driving in a city. Hong Kong meant trains and buses, and Chicago can mean that too but from where I’m staying and working, it’s impractical. Fingers crossed.

6:37 Well, I’m here much too early, must me my schtick today. I’m not meant to meet the director ‘til 7 so I’ll sit in the office until she gets here.

7:00 Someone I’ve already met arrives, not the principal, and is surprised I’m here:  “Oh, you’re…here. I didn’t realize. Let’s get you set up. Hopefully someone will be here to train you.” Perfect. What if I have no one here to show me what to do? That should be okay as long as there are lesson plans and books to follow.

7:02 No books, no teacher.

7:10 I step outside into the hallway to find a bathroom. Another teacher walks near and I’m nervous to talk to her. Everyone else I’ve seen today has ignored me.

7:15 No lesson plans, no trainer yet. I do know though that I have morning duty which consists of telling kids they can’t go upstairs.

7:18 A teacher has just introduced herself and said if I needed any help to just ask. That was nice, though she’s the only one who’s even looked my way in 41 minutes.

7:20 Just told a poor kid she couldn’t go to her classroom (that was my one job) and with a crestfallen face she goes to get her mom. Her mom comes over and tries to explain. Sorry, I say, I’m just a substitute, I don’t know anything other than don’t let anyone upstairs.

7:40 Phew! The trainer is here and explains the position. Easy enough. Go get kids, teach, take them back, repeat. I don’t know what I’m teaching them, but I like having only 4 students for 35 minutes each!

8:00 First grade. So cute, so happy, so much energy. I try my best to zip my lips while the original teacher teaches the class, but it’s hard. I have an idea! I can do that better! What about this?! My inner control freak is forcing me to literally bite my lip. Shut up, Miss C, this is not your class!

12:00 Lunch! The teachers have been given pizza and some of them brought in treats. Mmm I love pumpkin chocolate chip bread! I sit down though no one’s invited me to eat their hard-earned food. I’m hungry, I eat it anyway. One teacher talks to me. Everyone else acts like the seat is empty. Oh well, at least I get free pizza and brownies.

12:20 This classroom is really unorganized. My OCD is kicking in. I must clean!

12:45 Well, doesn’t that drawer look much tidier! This teacher will love me when she gets back, I’m certain of it.

1:10 More kids, more teaching, more organizing. Yes, those shelves definitely look nicer.

2:30 It’s Friday and my schedule with kids is done. Maybe I can just put these papers here instead…yea, that’s better. She’s definitely going to like this.

3:15 Home sweet (someone else’s) home. Monday is a new day and it’ll be my classroom for 7 more days. I bet I can tackle the rest of those drawers by then.

*Side note: today is Monday and it was a great day! My kiddos were sweet, I figured out what I was supposed to teach them, and many more teachers introduced themselves and said hello. Guess they just needed to give it some time. Oh, and that shelf with science books, yea, it looks better now, too.

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