Thursday, April 17, 2008

Subs Gone Wild!

Imagine walking into a room full of teens you don't know. Imagine their reaction when they learn that their teacher is absent and that you're in charge today.

Substitute teaching is a hell of a difficult job. Back In The Day, we pulled a few mean tricks on our subs. The Old Lady who was Hard of Hearing? We threw pennies so that they would THWACK off different surfaces in the room. OL would whip her head--perched on a turkey-like Old Lady Neck--around every time a penny bounced off the wall, off the tiled floor, off the window, the radiator, the ceiling.

Remember the Book Dropping Game in middle school? There are several variations, but ours went like this: Send a note around to all the students, saying something like "everybudy drap ur bookz at 12-30" (well, we couldn't spell in 7th grade--could you?). And we had a friend in 8th grade who would find a really, really thick book at a yard sale, hollow out a hole in the 1,000 or so pages, and conceal his squirt gun there (the retro, old-fashioned, small revolver type), fully loaded, of course, sometimes with water dyed pink, green or blue. He'd put the book on top of his desk and periodically open the cover and randomly squirt either fellow classmates or the sub--when his/her back was turned, of course.

In the Millenium, we're now telling more tales about Odd Sub Behavior toward students, rather than Odd Student Behavior toward subs. The sub who gave a "sex" quiz to a classroom full of 9th-graders. He was eventually arrested. The sub who showed up to school drunk, and slept it off at the back of the room. Mouth open, snoring, drooling, the whole bit. The college kids who come to sub over break, who talk about frat parties and hangovers and pot and sex--lots of sex--to their Cherubic Charges (remember, the average age in high school is 16, and even though MTV will tell ya different, 16-year-olds don't know everything). These people are screened, and allegedly must meet stringent qualifications. They're even fingerprinted, and their data submitted to the FBI, so if some of these folks are sex offenders, they're sex offenders who haven't gotten caught--yet.

Our Journalism 1 Cherubs wrote editorials this morning about subs. Some wrote about how their peers should treat subs with more respect; some chastised Principal Man for allowing Maniacs in our Midst. The best lede so far? "Some subs can be fun, but they can also get a little scary. When your sub has a breakdown and starts crying in the middle of class or spends the whole class talking about how midgets scare him, something might be wrong." That's an understatement, kiddo. PS: Do Not Adjust Your Set! The Person Pictured Above is Not a Sub. Scary. We think Pearl the Landlord should sign up to sub at Our Humble High School.


Urban School Teacher said...

I stumbled on your blog and enjoyed reading through several of your posts, particularly the tales of substitute teachers. Been there, done that, paid my dues!

It is always interesting to hear stories and opinions from other teachers, particularly those working in countries different to my own.

I have started blogging only very recently. My blog can be found at Although my small number of posts deal mostly with the current unrest among, and recent industrial action by, certain public sector workers in Britain, once this issue becomes less pertinent my intention is to use my blog to safely share my views on high school teaching.

Take care,

Mr Teacher.

Melissa B. said...

Urban School Teacher--we checked out your site and really like it! Keep on blogging...thanks for reading!


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