Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Adventures in Substitute Teaching

I'm not sure how this happened. I am a substitute teacher. I'll take almost any assignment (3rd grade and up). Recently, I've done a lot of work in Junior and Senior High School. The teenagers don't scare me, I guess that makes me perfect substitute teacher material.

My last assignment was a short one, and was completely uneventful with one exception. After giving out the assignment left by the teacher, I was answering odd questions: 'Can I go to my locker?', 'Can I go to the bathroom?', 'Do we write in pen?'..... Various other things that all the precious teenagers already knew the answers to. It's my delight to make up absurd answers to these questions. Really, it's one of the highlights to the substitute teacher's day. 'I have the power over your bathroom visits, don't trifle with me.'

Then, out of the corner of my ear, I hear, 'Can I go to the special ed room, I'm a retard.' (Asked in the most horrible teenage boy whisper voice you can imagine, followed by laughter.)

At that moment, I forgot who I was, and why I was there. I completely jumped out of my human skin, and transformed into Demon Teacher, feared by all. I looked that boy in the face, my eyes as big as baseballs, and said to him in the quietest voice imaginable, 'WHAT DID YOU SAY?'

He immediately knew the line was crossed. He went into full-on apology mode. I heard none of it. I simply pointed at him, and motioned for him to join me in the hallway. There, I monologued to him about his fatal mistake, whilst I imagined in my 'perfect world' a vision of me strangling him with my bare hands, hanging his lifeless body from the flag pole with a sign on him that read, 'I made fun of innocent people, I don't understand human decency and I paid the ultimate price.'

He was delirious with a series of 'yes, mam's' and 'I'm sorry Mam' and 'please don't tell my mother.' I wanted to scream at him from the top of my voice, 'words hurt... you are a bully... don't poison society with your negatives... do you know what prison inmates do with pretty little boys like you?' My mind flashed to horrible tortures. My heart raced. My blood pressure went sky high!!!

Then, a moment of tranquility entered my airspace, and I was hit with a moment of pure inspiration. I simply drew an imaginary circle on the wall in the hallway about 2 inches too high. Then, I said to him, in an extremely calm voice, 'Put your nose in this imaginary circle, and don't utter one sound. You're going to stand in this hallway, with your nose on the wall and consider the life choices you have made today. If I were you, I'd concentrate on the specific words you used to land you in this hallway, with your nose on the wall.'

He did it. He stood there, silently, while I returned to my skin and planet Earth. Then, I said to him, 'Do you understand? Do you understand that you cannot ridicule people? Especially in situations that you can't possibly understand? Do you understand the importance of respect?'

He had a blank, almost confused look on his face. I continued,'I need you to understand respect, I need you to know that although I am horrified by what you said, I respect you enough to teach you this lesson. I also respect you enough to dismiss you from this hallway before the high school boys and your football coach walk by to see this. I respect you enough to save you from that embarrassment. Even though you insulted your classmates, yourself, and me today, I still respect you. Can you try and understand?'

He looked down, and then... he had his moment....he looked me in the eye and said, 'I will try.'


  1. let us review school policy and state law....hhhmmmm...let's see, yes, i do believe that it IS acceptable to twist the ears of students until they scream if said student is speaking such morally reprehensible trash! aaahhh, yes. Ch. 243, Subsection B15, Paragraph 4.

  2. wow! what a story! thanks for sharing!

  3. You go girl!! Way to tell it like it is!