Last week I started work as a substitute teacher. It isn't a very glamorous title - in fact, the word substitute holds a lot of stigmas. Close your eyes and think about a sub, what do you see? For me it is an older woman with a shin-length printed skirt, a wrinkled button up blouse and wool vest with pictures of apples and A+ all over it, glasses, disheveled hair and a bit of lipstick on her front tooth. Alright, maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but that's where my mind goes.
So many have told me that the gateway into teaching is starting off as a substitute. Boy were they right.
Last week I was the substitute teacher for a school's second grade teachers. They were administering tests so I had a new class everyday. The first day was a bit overwhelming, as I thought it would be. There were a handful of students that put some fear in me but at the end of the day I still had my sanity and even a faint smile hanging on my face. Every day after that it got a little better. Each class was vastly different in the makeup of personalities and characteristics, I learned so much from other teachers and even my students.
This week I have been blessed to work at two different schools. On Monday I was a substitute for a fourth grade class. I must admit that fear bubbled up inside of me at the mere mention of fourth graders. Little people I'm good with! But I was nervous about going into an older age group. This group of fourth graders was an absolute DREAM. They were attentive, respectful and dare I say, even wanted to LEARN! By the end of the day, though I was exhausted, I walked to my car, head held high with a big dopey grin across my face.
The true test came today when I subbed for a fourth grade bilingual class. I do have my ESL (English as a Second Language) certification and took three years of Spanish in high school, but lets face it, high school was ages ago and who paid attention in class anyway? I sure didn't. :)
Needless to say I had my reservations. The anticipation woke me up earlier than I would have liked and eagerness got me to school a whole 40 minutes early. I sat patiently in the office waiting for an administrator to get to work and sign me in. Before today I had been working at the same school everyday. I had grown familiar with the children, staff and layout of the building along with procedures and expectations. This was a very new environment for me. As I made it to my classroom the hunt for lesson plans from the permanent teacher began. Frantically looking in every possible place they could be I realized he hadn't left any. Nerves shot through my body like lightning and panic started to take hold of my stomach. In desperation I left my class to find a neighboring teacher who might be able to help. All I can say is THANK THE LORD FOR CURTAIN PARTNERS! The teacher next to me was also a fourth grade bilingual teacher. She was an absolute blessing, taking the time to sit with me and give ideas of things to do throughout the day. After my meeting with her the fear subsided and the excitement of teaching returned.
I had 10 students. The day was a huge whopping success. Before I knew it the announcements were on asking students to prepare for dismissal. I'm typically not one to "toot my own horn" but I am VERY proud of myself today. Being complemented on your ability to pronounce things with a Spanish accent by a fourth grader is quite the accomplishment. :) To add to that, I was also able to TEACH which is rare for a substitute. I can't explain the wave of excitement that overcomes your body when you see your students understanding a concept. Rounding decimals to the nearest tenth, hundredth... For not being a math teacher I rocked that one out of the park.
The stash of business cards I keep has been depleted and the phone has been ringing off the hook by schools requesting me as a substitute. My heart is smiling right now simply because I feel God's hand at work. This may not be what I initially desired, but I know that all good things come with time. Patience has become a dear, old friend. There is a permanent job out there for me somewhere, God just isn't finished growing it or me yet. Until then, I'll continue to be a sponge, soaking up all of the knowledge I can find.
I'd like to attempt to document all of the fun stories and quotes ... But this is enough for now. :-D
"The coolest substitute ever." - Unnamed students :)