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Substitute Teacher: A Thankless Job: Truly thrown into the breach everyday.
Posted by R. Wesley Lovil, Jun 13, 2010. 2607 views. ID = 3626

Substitute Teacher: A Thankless Job

Posted by R. Wesley Lovil, Jun 13, 2010. 2607 views. ID = 3626
This post was written in 15 minutes.
Can you hold the class together for one day?
This post has been awarded 28 stars by 6 readers.

Believe me when I say that at one time, I loved to teach and I like to think I was fairly good at it. That statement would most likely surprise the students that I now educate. It is just that through some wry sense of humor of the gods or maybe a twist of fate; I am now a substitute teacher. This is a thankless job and one of the most demeaning things I ever done. Don't get me wrong it's an important task but that task does not include teaching. I joke with my peers, saying we should be called zeros as the only worth we have is to be a placeholder.

Let me take you through a typical day in the life of a substitute teacher. Most important is that we are part time workers never sure of how much work we will get in a school year. Therefore most of us dare not turn down work and no matter how dire the situation we march into the breach. The district tries to give you as much advance notice as possible but much of the time it is just the night before. Sometimes it's even a call on the morning you are to be there.

Just last week I was called into a middle school for a teacher who was in a wreck coming to school. She was not hurt but was unable to be there that day. The school started classes at 8:30 and I got the call at 7:45. As a seasoned substitute, I arise every school day at 6 AM and I'm ready for work by 7 o'clock at the latest, even if I don't have an assignment. Somehow, I arrived out of breath and harried by 8:25 with no preparation for the class.

After the class filled in, I informed them that their teacher would not be there. This is a most important step for me for I watch their eyes while I tell them. I always get my first clues of who's who in the class, as I watch for reaction, from concern to wise cracks all the way to apathy. I file these thoughts in my mind for future reference. As a substitute, you need to look for allies amongst the students and you sure don't need some wise guy feeding you wrong information.

When I'm thrown into the fray like this and without preparation, I can't be too concerned with the lesson of the day. As I said, I'm nothing more than a placeholder and in that function; I'm just trying to prevent anarchy for the day. I take role, collect homework and I usually try to converse with the class. Middle school is such a difficult age for a teacher as the children try to stretch their independence from not only their teachers but their parents as well. They are too old to be in awe of the teacher yet still too young to understand the importance of a good education. Then all too soon the bell rings, the class is done and it all starts over for the next class.

Now this should be the place where I ask the students out there to give us substitutes a break. That we are a needed addition to education is a given. Yet I understand, we took advantage of substitutes when I was in school and I'm sure that my children will do the same. We truly are the zeros of teaching but without us chaos would surly reign.

Copyright 2010 R. Wesley Lovil. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 28 stars by 6 readers.
This post is part of a writing prompt: Substitute Teacher

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