I have taken up babysitting. This is also frequently referred to as substitute teaching. Substitute teaching is in no way similar to real teaching except that it occurs on a school campus.
- I don’t have to work every day. This is really convenient on days that I am sick.
- I have no before or after school responsibilities. No bus duty, no lunchroom duty, no metal detector duty, no staff meetings, no lesson plans to submit, no papers to grade. When the kids leave, I leave.
- I get to have a new specialty every day. In addition to History I have now “taught” Accounting, Chemistry, Psychology, Keyboarding, Economics, English, Algebra, Public Speaking, and Basketball. I do not think the PE teacher realized I was pregnant when she called me, but it was a week that I was feeling pretty good, so I went ahead and did it.
- By far the most significant: No irate parents.
- It’s really really really boring. Sometimes the most difficult thing I have to do all day is stay awake. Having been a teacher I understand the wisdom in providing a self-directed assignment for the kids to work on, but as a substitute I sometimes wish I had more to do than take attendance and hand out worksheets.
- The kids aren’t mine. Instead of knowing who just got a new haircut, and who’s trying out for the play, and who has been looking for an after school job, and who always writes in green pen, and who just moved in; I just have a list of names. The politely say “here” at the appropriate moment during attendance, and that’s about all I get out of them.
- No lesson plans. It doesn’t matter if I have an awesome idea for teaching the stock market crash, or if I know a really great activity to introduce Pavlov’s theories. My job is to follow the provided lesson outline which is usually to take attendance, and hand out the worksheet. Or take attendance and start the video. Or take attendance and tell the kids what chapter to read in their textbooks.
The job is different, and the kids are also significantly different. Rural farming community kids in no way resemble their inner city counterparts. They are remarkably submissive. They come into class and sit down without being asked, and they follow directions without argument. I wondered how far this compliance would go, and one day I told them that I needed them to line up in alphabetical order by the second letter of their middle name. They did it incredibly quickly. Nobody asked “why?” None of them said, “This is stupid.” The whole class just jumped up and started asking each other how to spell their middle names. It made me laugh. Then I divided them into teams for basketball.