Monday, October 4, 2010


“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

A few weeks after school started, I was looking for something to do, so I signed up as a substitute teacher. So far, I’ve worked at least two days a week ever since at one school and have covered PE, art, learning disabled, T-1, 1st, 2nd, and special education. I feel my life has been infinitely expanded through my serving as a substitute and I now have a greater appreciation for what my kids’ teachers go through in an average day. I also have a more profound respect for those who wish to homeschool their own children, and a few ideas as to why they thought that might be a good idea in the first place.

Thought I would share with you a list of things I’ve learned in the past several weeks from my taking the place of someone more qualified and experienced, if just for the day.

1. I feel like Wonder Woman or Batman every time I get the call to substitute teach. It’s like, “I got the call! Gotta go!” Thankfully, spandex is not required.

2. There is a great disparity in ability and willingness among the children in individual classrooms. Keeping those engaged who are bored, and bringing up those who are behind is a constant balancing act the teacher must perform.

3. The children will try the substitute teacher for approximately two hours after the departure of the real teacher. They may try things such as telling the sub they get double snacks, suggesting proper recourse for a misbehaving classmate, or inferring that the sub is doing everything wrong. Self-doubt is preyed upon and must not be visible to the children!

4. The good thing about being a sub is that you get to make your own rules and don’t have to really do it the way the teacher would. You can wreak havoc and then never return.  *insert evil laugh here*

5. Children who are in special classes for extra help may not remember that you were there three weeks ago and know full well they know how to do their math homework and count to 20 on a number line, no matter what they say!

6. Watching two very mobile special education children on a playground with 150 other kids is not my idea of a picnic.

7. Carrying a 50 lb. special education kid who has fallen and scraped her knee makes you feel like you’re in the World’s Strongest (Wo)Man contest after about 100 feet.

8. Some classes are more emotionally unstable than others and you may feel as if you’ve played Dr. Phil to a host of tiny socialites before going home for the day.

9. Some boys will draw inappropriate additions to dot-to-dot animals that may crack up the substitute teacher – on the inside.

10. Orchestrating Dodge Ball between 50 children is one of the greatest thrills you could ever hope to have.

11. A PE whistle brings about an undue sense of power.

12. Some children who have problems at home may feel compelled to tell a complete stranger of their plight.

13. Having the appropriate response to “My dad’s in jail!” is not something I’d ever thought of before.

14. My son is now widely known throughout the school because his mother has been a substitute teacher. He beams with pride every day that I am there.

15. Children that I have had in class before remember me, holler at me, and hug me in the hallway.

16. This may be as close to a celebrity as I ever become.

17. I love decorating bulletin boards!

18. I’m only 5’9”, but second graders see me as an amazon woman, and point it out regularly!

19. School may be the only personalized attention that some children get all day.

20. I’m more thankful each day for my own children, for their personalities and abilities, for our family and our home life, for their ideas and independence, and for the chance to see the other side through the eyes of a substitute teacher.

See, and you thought kids were the only ones getting anything out of this thing called SCHOOL!

Now go out and hug a teacher today! And give thanks to the greatest substitute of all – Jesus.

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:14